Orange Currant Pound Cake

orange-currant-pound-cakeIf you read my previous post, you will know that I am into comfort food right now. Since I mentioned that the fruit compote would be wonderful with pound cake, I decided that I really should make a pound cake to go with it. This cake comes from Classic Home Desserts by the late Richard Sax. It is a wonderful cookbook by someone who died way too young. This cake would be delicious on its own, but serving it with the fruit compote kicks it up just a notch. The recipe makes two 8 x 4-inch loaves and freezes well. It’s perfect to have on hand for any last-minute guests.

Orange Currant Pound Cake

Yield: Two 8 x 4-inch loaves, each serving about 8

Ingredients

1 cup dried currants soaked in 1/2 cup orange liqueur (Cointreau, Triple Sec, Grand Marnier, or even Sabra which is chocolate-orange)

2.25 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon Kosher or fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2.5 sticks (1.25 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature

Grated zest of 1 large orange, preferably navel

1.33 cups granulated sugar

5 large eggs, room temperature

1/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt (NOT Greek-style)

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Confectioners’ sugar for garnish

Directions

  1. Soak the currants for at least 1 hour, stirring once or twice.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Generously butter two loaf pans and then dust with flour, shaking out any excess. Alternatively, use a cooking spray that has flour in it like PAM or Baker’s Joy. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl sift together 2 cups of the flour, the salt and the baking powder.
  4. Using either a standing or hand mixer, beat the butter and orange zest at high speed until light. Gradually add the sugar and beat until very fluffy – about 6 minutes.
  5. Lower the speed to the first notch and gradually add the sifted flour mixture. Just beat until the flour is mostly incorporated. Do not over beat.
  6. Increase the speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl as necessary.
  7. Add the sour cream or yogurt, vanilla and any unabsorbed liquid from the currants after draining the currants well. Just mix until blended. Do not over mix.
  8. Quickly toss the well-drained currants with the remaining 1/4 cup flour. This prevents the currants from all sinking to the bottom of the pan. I do this with chocolate chips as well.  Fold into the batter by hand, using a spatula.
  9. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans, tapping each pan gently on the counter to settle the batter.
  10. Bake until the cakes are golden and a toothpick inserted int the center comes out clean. This should take about 1.25 hours, but ovens vary so be sure to check it starting at 50 minutes. Do not over-bake.
  11. Cool the cakes in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then invert onto the rack and turn them right side up. Sift the confectioner’s sugar over the tops while the cakes are still warm and then cool completely. Return the cakes to the pans, tightly cover with plastic wrap and allow to stand at room temperature for at least 24 hours before serving. You can add more confectioners’ sugar when you are ready to serve. Alternatively, you could make a simple orange icing from orange juice, vanilla nd confectioners’ sugar and use that.

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