Enough depressing talk. It's all over now, and I, for one, am ready to do some celebratin'! Starting with baking a cake. An orange and poppy seed pound cake, to be exact.
For those not in the know, the designation "pound cake" comes from the fact that the cake is made from a pound of each of its core ingredients: flour, butter, sugar and eggs. Whoever came up with this original, golden ratio was an effing genius. This was the best cake I've ever baked, texture- and taste-wise. The crumb was dense and moist (helped by the substitution of half the butter with 250g of cream cheese, no doubt), and the flavour from all that butter was present, but not to such a degree as to overwhelm the added fragrances of the orange essence. The poppy seeds gave it a great crunch factor.
Basically, I've pretty much decided after tasting this pound cake that this will be my go-to recipe from now on for all "Western-style" cakes, buttercream, fondant and all. This cake slices really neatly, and holds its shape well.
And, best of all, there are so many ways to tweak the recipe for different flavours. Along with the orange extract (purchased from Life Organic in Newtown), I also bought a bottle of hazelnut extract. Ferrero Rocher in pound cake form, anyone? Yes please!
Haha, the goose fat didn't go into the pound cake, do not worry! I found it at the Harris Farm Markets in Broadway. I have plans to use it for roasting chicken henceforth.
Unfortunately, I overmixed the batter slightly so that my cake was had some minor "tunneling" issues (explanation of this term available at Baking Bites). I could tell while I was mixing the batter that gluten was starting to develop, because the batter had taken on an elastic quality reminiscent of the dough I once made for some Asian-style soft breads. You can see some of the "tunnels" in the picture below:
Fortunately, I don't think the texture was affected that much by the overmixing. The use of cream cheese may have had something to do with the moistness retained.
And, just in case it wasn't obvious already...these photos are the result of another (dodgy) attempt at food-styling and photography. I love looking at the beautiful photos of food placed "just so" over at Foodgawker and Tastespotting, but it always makes me so envious of the talent of the amazing people behind the cameras. These photos were taken on my iPhone, and the spotted backdrop happens to be one of my old shirts. Lol. Think I may need to enroll myself in one of those photography courses. And get a camera that doesn't come with internet and a keypad.
Recipe for Orange and Poppy Seed Pound Cake
Adapted from Elizabeth's Edible
Makes 1 10-inch cake
250g butter (I used salted), softened to room temperature
250g cream cheese
3 cups white, granulated sugar
6 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp good quality orange essence or extract
1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius
2. With an electric beater or mixer, beat together cream cheese and butter at medium speed until creamy.
3. Gradually add the sugar, continuing to beat until light and fluffy.
4. Add the eggs, one at a time. Mix until incorporated.
5. Sift together the flour and salt. Add to the butter mixture gradually, folding it in with a rubber spatula. Be careful not to over-mix, to prevent gluten formation (which will make your cake tough and dry).
6. Pour cake batter (which will be very thick!) into a greased and floured 10-inch Bundt pan, or chiffon/angel cake pan. Smooth the top of the batter with a spatula to make it flat.
7. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour and 40 minutes, or until cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Take out of oven, and cool in the pan on a wire rack until it can be removed from the pan without giving you third degree burns. Slice, and enjoy with a cup of tea!
C is for cake, and that's good enough for me!