High Altitude Baking: Orange pound cake with balsamic berries (recipe)
Editor’s note: High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall, and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips that make baking in the mountains successful.
Pound cake is the Miss Congeniality of the cake world. Everyone likes it and this one, with a mild citrus flavor and fine crumb, is as pleasing as a sunny day. Present it on its own, for a casual dessert, or dress it up with a few berries, like the one in the photograph. However you serve it, it’ll be a welcome addition to any meal.
Here’s further proof that this little sweetheart is eager to please: The cake is best the day after baking, so you can make it ahead. And, olive oil is used in place of butter, eliminating the creaming that pound cakes usually require, so the batter comes together quickly and easily, no mixer needed.
For the required half an egg, break a large egg into a one cup measure, beat to combine the yolk and white, 1½ -2 tablespoons of the mixture is half an egg.
Orange Pound Cake with Balsamic Berries
Adjusted for altitudes of 8,000 feet and above
Make in an 8x4x2½ inch
(4 cup capacity) metal loaf pan
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons bleached all-purpose flour (spoon and level)
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ large eggs
½ cup plus 2 (two) tablespoons superfine granulated sugar, preferably Baker’s
½ cup mild olive oil
¼ cup whole milk or plain yogurt
1 tablespoon brandy
1 tablespoon orange liqueur
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
About ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
Several drops orange oil or undiluted orange juice concentrate to taste, optional
8 ounces ripe strawberries
2-3 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees with a rack in the center. Line the pan, from long side to long side, with non-stick or regular aluminum foil, extending it several inches on both sides to use as handles when removing the baked cake. Grease all exposed parts of the pan and the regular foil with a vegetable oil-flour spray.
2. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt until well combined. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until blended. Add the oil, milk, brandy, orange liqueur, both zests, and 2 tablespoons orange juice and whisk thoroughly. Gently stir in the flour mixture, only until all the dry ingredients are absorbed and a wet batter forms.
3. Scrape batter into prepared pan, filling it no more than 2 inches from the top. (Some loaf pans claiming to be 8X4 inches are actually a little smaller; if yours is one of them, you may not use all the batter.) Bake until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 32-37 minutes. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes and then use the foil handles to remove the cake from the pan. Return it to the rack to cool completely.
4. Glaze the cake: Whisk ¼ cup of the confectioner’s sugar into the orange juice and continue adding sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture thickens but is still pourable. Give it a taste and add orange oil or OJ concentrate if you desire a stronger orange flavor and, if necessary, whisk in more sugar to return to the proper consistency. Drizzle glaze over the top of the cake, letting it run down the sides, and let it harden. If possible, store the cake, covered in the refrigerator, overnight before serving.
5. One to two hours before serving, make the balsamic berries: Wash, hull and slice the strawberries, add them to a bowl and toss them with superfine granulated sugar (amount depending on the sweetness of the berries) and the balsamic vinegar until all are well coated. Cover and set aside at room temperature. Slice the cake and serve with berries. Store leftovers in the ‘fridge for three to four days.
The cake recipe is a variation of one from Eugenia Bone.
Vera Dawson, author of the high-altitude cookbooks Baking Above It All and Cookies in the Clouds, (available at The Bookworm in Edwards and Next Page Bookstore in Frisco), is a chef instructor with CMC’s Culinary Institute. Her recipes have been tested in her Summit County kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at email@example.com.
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