As I mentioned in the last installment, Lora Brody’s cookbook Chocolate American Style (Clarkson Potter, 2004) is the only cookbook I regularly consult that consistently calls for extra-large eggs in its recipes. So it’s natural, after making a Brody recipe that calls for four eggs, to look for another recipe in the same book to use up the remaining two. That’s exactly what did this weekend, and I ended up at “A Medley of Pound Cakes” (pp. 174–175). The main recipe is for a chocolate pound cake, but I made the “White Chocolate–Orange” variant, which has no chocolate per se, just cocoa butter. Here’s how it went:
We start, as always, with the mise en place. To avoid dirtying too many dishes, I’ve simplified my mise slightly for this photograph. In the large Pyrex bowl, all the dry ingredients: 15 ounces (425 g) of all-purpose flour, 1 tsp baking powder, ½ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp baking soda, all sifted together. In the glass stand-mixer bowl, 250 g of granulated sugar and two sticks (225 g) of butter. Other ingredients include 6 oz (170 g) of Valrhona Ivoire (I think) white “chocolate”, 8 oz (225 g) sour cream, two extra-large eggs, 1½ tsp pure vanilla extract, and for the syrup/”glaze” topping, another 100 g sugar, 3 tbl Grand Marnier, and ¼ cup (60 ml) orange juice. You’ll note that the orange juice is quite dark: I used blood oranges (var. Moro), because seasonal.
The assembly of the cake proceeds by the standard butter-cake method, starting with creaming the butter and sugar, then mixing in the eggs until emulsified, as shown here. The dry ingredients are added in two lifts, with the second wet team between them.
The recipe says simply, “With the sour cream add 6 ounces melted white chocolate and 2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest.” It seemed to me that it would make more sense to mix the sour cream and melted white chocolate together, thereby raising the temperature of the former while cooling the latter.
And while we’re mixing stuff, it makes sense to get the orange zest mixed with the other wet ingredients; this ensures that the orange flavor and the zest itself are evenly distributed throughout the cake.
After mixing in the sour cream–chocolate–orange mixture and the second half of the dry ingredients, the cake batter is quite stiff.
I had this close-up of the cake batter that I couldn’t resist pasting here. You can see that the orange zest is nicely distributed throughout.
The recipe calls for baking in a 9½″ Bundt brand cake pan. I don’t own any of those, so I used a 10″ ring pan instead; these are — volumetrically at least — interchangeable. The batter is almost dough-like, and requires a flexible, short-handed spatula to get it smoothed down properly after spooning it from the mixing bowl into the pan. The cake bakes in a 350°F (175°C) oven for 45 minutes, until it’s golden brown and just barely cracked on top, and starting to pull away from the sides of the pan.
While the completed cake cools in the pan, we switch over to the stovetop to make the “glaze”, a simple syrup made by boiling sugar, orange juice, and Grand Marnier for about 30 seconds. It can then cool until the cake is ready to depan.
After about 15 minutes on a cooling rack, the cake can be removed from the pan. I put it on my glass cake stand, although I slightly squashed it in the process of inverting — not enough to matter. The syrup is simply brushed on with a pastry brush until it has all been absorbed by the cake; I made sure to brush it on the sides as well as the top. The small crack, and puncture holes from my doneness testing, provided points of entry where the syrup could soak even further into the cake, as you’ll see shortly.
The finished cake doesn’t really take on the anthocyanin color of the blood-orange syrup I used. Maybe it’s on the alkaline side?
I cut my first slice right next to a skewer hole, and you can see how well the crumb absorbed the syrup.
Results? It was a very, very tasty and tender cake. It does not have the flavor of white “chocolate” at all, but the cocoa butter contributes to a tender, unctuous crumb. Every single person who tried a slice liked it, even those not normally favorably disposed toward white “chocolate”. I’d say this one was a winner. (Now, what to do with the rest of that bottle of Grand Marnier…?)
|Serving size: 1/16 of a 10″ ring cake|
|Servings per recipe: 16|
|Amount per serving|
|Calories 414||Calories from fat 185|
|% Daily Value|
|Total Fat 21g||32%|
|Saturated Fat 16g||78%|
|Trans Fat 0g|||
|Total Carbohydrate 51g||17%|
|Dietary fiber 1g||4%|