Early on in my marriage, I learned that my husband had the advantage on holiday traditions. He was born in Brazil to a mother who was Brazilian by birth, but the daughter of German and Portuguese immigrants. My father-in-law’s family, though American by birth, held onto the rich traditions brought to the States from England and Switzerland. My family traditions are very boring by comparison! Our own family traditions have been born out of my husband’s heritage and my attempt to rediscover my own. Orange Liqueur Soaked Pound Cake is kind of a staple holiday item around our house. We used to buy them at Trader Joe’s or at the small Italian grocery stores nearby where we lived in New York. Now I just make them because it’s a lot of fun to bake at home just the way we like it. I add a lot of almond extract and a pinch of cloves. And even though being drenched in syrup is really enough, I also top it with candied orange zest or slices. It makes for a very pretty cake.
For this cake, you don’t need a mixer. Just a big bowl, a whisk and a spatula. It doesn’t have as much butter as a traditional pound cake, but don’t worry, we’ll add that back in with the soaking liquid.
Orange Liqueur Soaked Pound Cake
adapted from Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan
For pound cake:
Zest of 1 large orange, finely grated
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup all-purpose flour (or cake flour for a finer crumb)
1/2 cup finely ground almonds (called almond meal)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
big pinch ground cloves, optional
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
For orange liqueur syrup:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier)
Juice of 1 orange Candied orange slices, for top (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a loaf pan and line it with parchment paper, leaving some overhang on each side of the pan. This will help you remove it from the pan. Set aside.
2. Place orange zest and sugar in a large mixing bowl. With your hands, rub the orange zest with the sugar until slightly damp and very fragrant.”
3. Whisk in the eggs, yogurt, and almond extract.
4. Add the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, salt, and cloves. Whisk well to combine.
5. Switch to a large silicone spatula, and fold in the melted butter.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool slightly while preparing soaking liquid.
7. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the sugar, orange liqueur, and fresh orange juice. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and let syrup simmer for a few minutes until all of the sugar has been dissolved.
8. Use a skewer to poke holes all over the top of the cake. Pour the syrup a little at a time over the cake, allowing it to be absorbed before adding more syrup. After all the last bit of syrup has been absorbed, top the cake with the candied orange slices. Let the cake stand for several hours to really absorb the syrup.
9. Carefully remove the cake from the pan and serve. Leftovers should be wrapped well and will keep for a week or two. (We keep ours in the fridge.)
10. Top with whipped cream or serve with a cup of coffee or tea.