I have had a realization lately: the crusts on the majority of my plain (i.e., unglazed) pound cakes are lacking. How do I know this? The last 3 pound cakes I have made, all from Lauren Chattman’s Cake Keeper Cakes, have had far superior kick ass crusts. Just fabulous–to the point that I find myself leaving the top for last, like a muffin. Kind of crispy and extra flavorful–a true crust. I have yet to decide what she is doing differently or what I was previously doing wrong.
This latest pound cake–with another awesome crust– is top to bottom stunning in an understated sort of way. It is flavored with citrus and black pepper, notable for being unusual, but no one flavor dominates. It is not borderline tart, like my Ultra Lemon Bundt Cake nor is it really super perfumed with orange, as some orange cakes can be. It is just citrus. The black pepper is noticeable but not overpowering; it is not hot, like some of the dried chile pepper desserts I have made. However, as the days go by, the black pepper does get a bit stronger, just kind of hitting the back of your throat with warmth. This flavor combo was just really, really good. I hope that some of you who are skeptical will give it a try.
Oh, in case you are wondering, we are all better except Alex. It is almost as if the other 3 of us got hit with a stomach virus while she got the flu. You name a symptom, she’s had it–except for inner ear pain I guess. But we are all back to eating like normal, thank goodness. Not that I’ve shared the cake with them. That’s why I made the banana bread!
1 1/2 cups (165 g) cake flour
3/4 t baking powder
1 – 1 1/2 t freshly ground black pepper (I erred on lower side)
1/4 t salt
zest of one lemon
zest of one lime
zest of one orange, or a little less (you are aiming for equal amount of all 3–my oranges were huge)
1 cups (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature, likely beaten
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grease and flour a 9X5 loaf pan–be sure to grease thoroughly as my cake did stick in a few spots (I was able to dislodge with a flexible silicone turner–a handy trick, by the way). Set aside.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, black pepper and salt. Set aside.
Cream the butter with the citrus zests until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and cream an additional 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl down as necessary. With the mixer on medium low speed, pour the egg mixture into the bowl, stopping to scrape the sides as needed. Mix until blended.
On low speed mix the flour mixture in, adding it in 4 additions. After the last addition, mix on medium speed for 30 seconds.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 60-75 minutes, until a toothpick inserts into the center comes out with only a few crumbs attached and the sides of the cake are pulling away from the sides of the pan. Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes, and then invert the cake onto a cooling rack. Cool completely before slicing and serving.