Thursday, 4 October 2012
This cake is part of my continuing search for the perfect snack to eat outside the library.
It needs to be:
a/ robust enough to handle being bashed around in my bag.
b/ self-sufficient - i.e not need anything else to go with it (including tea).
c/ filling enough to fuel reading.
d/ able to keep well so I can have it for several days.
e/ tempting enough to be used to reward/bribe myself.
This recipe fulfils all my criteria.
Pound cake is a term for a traditional creamed sponge, so named because they used to make huge cakes involving a pound (around 450g) each of butter, flour, sugar and eggs. This is a slightly different recipe - with the oil and milk and so on - but its roots lie in that tradition.
I flavoured the cake with orange zest and freshly ground cardamon. I wanted the flavours to be subtle instead of punchy - as I'm eating it unadorned, there aren't any other flavours competing, so it doesn't need to hit you over the head.
I had a friend coming round the evening I made the cake, so I siphoned off a bit of the mixture into a tiny loaf tin so it would bake faster and we could eat it earlier. Alas, my genius plan was flawed - I had to wait for the big cake to nearly finish baking so it didn't sink because I'd opened the door. So yes. It's not a shortcut.
Also - if your kitchen starts smelling very strongly of orange cough syrup while the cake bakes, do not panic. The cake itself does not smell of orange cough syrup and it does not taste of orange cough syrup. It freaked me out. I don't like orange cough syrup.
P.S. I'm getting glammed up and heading to the Cosmopolitan Blog Awards tonight - wish me luck!
Cardamon & Orange Loaf Cake
(adapted from Alice Medrich's Olive Oil Pound Cake in Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts)
zest of an orange
200g caster sugar (I used golden)
4 whole cardamon pods
165ml extra virgin olive oil
big pinch of fine sea salt
3 eggs, cold from the fridge
200g plain flour
1 and 1/4 tsp baking powder
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line a 9x4" (23x10cm) loaf tin with baking parchment. In the bowl of a stand mixer (ignore my other bowl above, this will save on your washing up), rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers until the sugar has turned orange (this releases the oils in the zest). Crack the cardamon pods by crushing them with the side of a knife. Remove all of the little black seeds and discard the shells. Grind the seeds up with a pestle and mortar. Add the cardamon, olive oil and salt to the mixer bowl. Beat with the paddle attachment until combined. Add the eggs one by one, mixing well between each addition. Beat on medium-high for 5 minutes - the mixture should look paler and thicker.
Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Add a third of the flour to the mixer, stirring on low until combined. Add half the milk, then another third of the flour, the rest of the milk and the rest of the flour, mixing until uniform in between each addition. The mixture will be pretty liquid. Scrape the beater and the sides down and fold in. Pour into the prepared tin and place in the bottom third of the oven. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes until well risen, golden brown and a knife/cake tester can be removed cleanly from the middle. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes then remove from the tin. Keeps well for four or five days in airtight tin/box and freezes well.
(Makes one loaf)