A burst of cold-weather citrus, bright and sparkling, adds an extra dimension to cakes and cookies. Lemon is usually the flavor luminary, its tang complementing a confection's sweetness. But oranges are another staple of winter, and they too make a perfect flavoring for baked goods.
One of the best ways to showcase them is in a sour-cream-based cake batter. Steep grated orange rind in orange extract while the batter is being prepared; this allows the flavor to blossom. The cake itself is straightforward -- eggs, sour cream, butter, sugar, salt, flour, and baking soda.
After baking, it is lacquered with orange juice, lemon juice, and granulated sugar, a glaze that underscores the orange flavor and provides textural contrast.
If you've thought of orange as the poor stepchild to the mighty lemon, this will change your mind.
Gently fragrant and marvelous with tea. Makes one 10-inch cake (about 16 slices).
FOR THE CAKE
|Butter and flour for the pan|
|2||tablespoons freshly grated orange rind|
|2||teaspoons pure orange extract|
|2¼||cups all-purpose flour|
|3/4||cup cake flour|
|¼||teaspoon baking soda|
|1||cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened|
|2 3/4||cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar|
|1||cup sour cream|
2. Butter a one-piece, straight-sided 10-inch tube pan, line the bottom with a circle of wax paper cut to fit, then butter the paper and dust the pan with flour, tapping out the excess.
3. In a small, nonreactive bowl, lightly stir together the rind and extract.
4. Sift the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking soda, and salt onto a sheet of wax paper.
5. Cream the butter in the large bowl of a freestanding electric mixer on moderate speed for 4 minutes. Add the sugar in 4 additions, beating for 1 minute after each portion is added. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 30 seconds after each addition. Blend in the orange rind mixture. On low speed, alternately add the sifted ingredients in 3 additions with the sour cream in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the sifted ingredients. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula frequently. Turn the batter into the pan and lightly smooth over the top with a rubber spatula.
6. Bake the cake for 75 to 80 minutes or until it's risen and golden on top and a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean. The cake should pull away slightly from the sides of the pan.
7. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Invert onto another cooling rack, peel away and discard the wax paper, and invert again to cool right side up. Place a sheet of wax paper under the cooling rack.
FOR THE SOAKING SYRUP
|1/3||cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice|
|1||tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice|
|1/3||cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar|
2. Using a pastry brush, immediately brush the juice and sugar mixture over the top and sides of the cake while it is still warm, scooping up the sugar onto the brush as you do so; use all of it. Cool cake completely. Store in an airtight container.