Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Almond Orange Pound Cake

So given the recent news in regards to Paula Deen's admission to having type II diabetes, I was a little hesitant to post this recipe as it is my own adaptation of Mizz Paula's Cream Cheese Pound Cake, which is heavenly by the way. I know everyone has his or her own opinion of Paula and her cooking/baking habits. I am a little annoyed that the timing of her 'coming out' goes along with her being the spokesperson for her pharmaceuticals. While I feel that we should all be responsible when it comes to picking and choosing the foods we eat, including baked goodies, and we shouldn't be blaming Paula if we, too, choose to add a stick of butter to everything, I am slightly disappointed that she is now the face of a drug company. I do not wish to have a discussion about this really, but I KNOW that there are other options, HOLISITIC AND NATURAL options, especially for controlling type II diabetes, such as dietary changes and countless herbal remedies. I happen to be the client of an excellent Master Herbalist, who knows Traditional Chinese Medicine inside and out and has saved me from hormone hell. I couldn't ever imagine going back to prescription meds, not even for something severe. But to each her own. This is Paula's choice, and I still love her...and her buttery pound cakes.

Let me be clear. I DETEST cream cheese. I know. How can this be, who doesn't love cream cheese?? I make great cream cheese frosting, but you won't catch me dipping my own paws in it. Well, except for my cinnamon cream cheese frosting which hardly tastes like cream cheese (my brother once stated he would bathe in it). I can bake a great cheesecake, but I have NO idea what they taste like. So it was a surprise to me when I discovered that I REALLY love this pound cake. While most traditional pound cakes call for a pound of butter, this one uses three sticks and an 8 oz. brick of cream cheese. But being the mix-master that I am, I wanted play around with the fats more and see if I could create a cake that was both buttery and velvety but still a bit soft and plenty moist. So many pounds cake are tasty but then dry out after just a day because of all the butter. So, I took out an additional stick of butter and substituted a stick of non-hydrogenated margarine. I have found that in nearly all of my cake recipes, it's best to use a combination of both butter and shortening, or butter and vegetable oil, or in this case butter and margarine. Butter is for flavor, but the moisture and fabulous texture comes from the oil in the margarine. I used Smart Balance because it was what I had on hand. Typically if I use a margarine product for anything in my kitchen, I go with Earth Balance. It tastes great, and there's nothing artificial and no hydrogenated icky stuff. Yes, you can still use the cheap stuff that was created in God-knows-whose science lab, but I always recommend using the highest quality ingredients your pocketbook can afford.

And finally, the almond-orange combination just appealed to my hormones at the time of birth for this cake. You only need the zest of one orange and a little almond extract for the cake, and then save the juice of the orange for the glaze. If you happen to have sliced or slivered almonds for garnish, great! If not, it's still great with them. The final result of this cake is a perfectly dense, velvety, and fine crumb that still retains lots of moisture and packs a big, bright flavor. The cake is rich, so you will be able to get many slices out of one bundt cake. This is also a perfect bake-ahead-and-freeze dessert that you can just thaw a few hours before a last-minute dinner party or craving for sugar. Enjoy. 


Almond-Orange Pound Cake
  1. 3 C. sifted cake flour (or all-purpose that has been sifted 2-3 times and then measured)
  2. 3 C. sugar
  3. 2 sticks of butter (1 C.)
  4. 1 stick of margarine (½ C.)
  5. 8 oz. brick of cream cheese
  6. 6 eggs
  7. ½ tsp. salt
  8. Zest of one orange (also save the juice of this orange for the glaze)
  9. 1 ½ tsp. almond extract
  10. ½ tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Prepare a 10-cup bundt pan with butter and flour, or do it the easy way—Baker's Joy!
Mix together the flour, salt, and orange zest. Set aside.
Cream together the butter, margarine, and cream cheese.
Add the sugar and cream until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes (slightly longer if using hand mixer).
Add in the extracts and give the few mixer a whirls.
Drop in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Slowly add the flour and mix on low, just until all the flour is incorporated into the batter.
Pour batter into pan and bake until toothpick inserted comes out clean. (It is going to take quite a while to bake, about an hour and a half for me, depending on your oven. The time could be considerably more or a bit less for someone else.) If you feel you have too much batter for your pan, like I did, just pour the rest into mini loaf pans for smaller pound cakes.

Almond-Orange Glaze:
  1. 2 C. powdered sugar
  2. 3-4 Tbsp. fresh orange juice
  3. ½ tsp. almond extract
  4. 1 Tbsp. butter, room temperature
  5. Pinch of salt
  6. Sliced almonds for garnish (optional)

With electric mixer, beat together the sugar, orange juice, extract, and salt. Start off with 3 Tbsp. Of juice and add more if needed. You are going to beat in the butter to thicken the glaze up a bit and for flavor, so keep this in mind. Once it's all well mixed, beat in the butter. You can simply put the glaze in a Ziplock bag, snip off the end, and go to town drizzling this all over your cooled pound cake. Toss the almonds over the glaze while it's still wet and allow to dry and set completely before slicing.

My suggestion is to bake this the night before you actually want to eat it. The cake is fabulous when it's still warm, but the glaze can be a bit overpowering at first. It's very sweet because of the orange juice, and the almond extract only intensifies that sweetness. Give the cake and glaze a chance to get to know each other and mellow out before you slice. If you MUST eat cake right away, then slice a piece and glaze the rest you plan on eating later. 


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