A few years ago I baked cakes with a wonderful group of bakers called the Cake Slice Bakers. Life got busy, so I dropped out after a while, but was invited recently to bake with them again. Life is still busy, but since the chosen book is the Southern Cake Book by the Southern Living magazine, how could I resist? Pecans, bourbon, lots of butter, as well as cream cheese, sweet potatoes and red velvet cake are well represented in the book. I'm going to attempt to do a linky link so that you can also visit the other Cake Slice Bakers and see which recipe they chose and how it went. Will be back about the same time next month with another delicious cake.
This is the first post using that book and we had a number of choices. I chose to bake the Orange Pecan Spice Pound Cake recipe. I have lots of pecans on hand for Thanksgiving pies, had a few oranges in a bowl and my cupboard has lots of spices in it. I decided to only make half the recipe and to bake it in a loaf pan instead of a tube pan, but otherwise I followed the recipe as written for ingredients...strange for me, but part of the deal. I did change the method just a bit. I rubbed the orange zest into the sugar a la Dorie Greenspan, mixed the orange and lemon extracts into the milk and the spices into the flour. That way I was less likely to forget to add an important ingredient at the end.
This has been an absurdly busy week due to a lot of baking for my scholarship group and also due to helping a friend who is struggling with an illness. With the overload I can just imagine leaving out the sugar or something unfortunate like that!
This is a delicious cake with the typical density of pound cake. It smelled heavenly while baking, both from the nuts and spices and from the heady scent of orange. I love the texture that the chopped pecans give to the crust and was happy that the spices are more hints than hits. This is not a terribly sweet cake if you skip the Orange Syrup like I did, which is great. It is nice and moist and folks went back for seconds last night. We had it with a little good bourbon on the side to keep in the Southern spirit of things.
Orange-Pecan-Spice Pound Cakeadapted from the Southern Cake Book by the Southern Living magazine
1 cup finely chopped toasted pecans, divided1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 cup butter, softened3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Take about 1/2 cup of the chopped pecans and sprinkle them over the sides and bottom of a loaf pan that has been generously buttered. Evenly coat the bottom and sides by shaking the pan.
In a small bowl, combine the sugar and the orange zest. Use fingers of your clean hands to rub the zest into the sugar.
Beat 1 cup butter until creamy. Gradually add the orange sugar. Beat well to add air. Add the three eggs, one at a time. Scrape bowl sides and beaters often to keep the mixture from clumping. Blend well.
In a large bowl combine the flour, salt, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg (freshly ground is wonderful!), and ground cloves. Set aside.
In a small bowl combine the milk with the vanilla, orange and lemon extracts.
With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture alternately with the milk mixture to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat until well blended after each addition, keeping speed at low.
Stir in remaining pecans, mix well and spoon the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top.
Bake at 300 degrees F for 1 hour. Long wooden pick inserted in center should come out clean. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes slide a knife around the sides of the pan and turn the cake out onto a wire rack, bottom side up. Let cake cool completely before serving - about an hour.
The original recipe called for an Orange Syrup to be brushed over the cake, but I skipped that part...too sweet.