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Perfect Pound Cake

Cookbook author Ina Garten considers herself a pound cake aficionado. She loves the simplicity of it: flour, sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla. This recipe takes a bit of extra time to make because of the sifting, but it really does make the texture more delicate. Serve the cake with tea in the afternoon or for dessert with some fresh berries and a dollop of crème fraîche.

Ingredients:

  • Baking spray with flour, such as Baker’s Joy
  • 1/4 cup demerara or turbinado sugar
  • 3 cups sifted cake flour (see notes)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 16 Tbs. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Seeds of 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 tsp. grated orange zest (2 oranges)
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Directions:

Do not preheat the oven. Place a rack in the oven so the cake will sit in the center. Generously spray a 12-cup tube pan (not one with a removable bottom!) or 2 loaf pans (each 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 2 1/2 inches) with the baking spray to coat evenly. Sprinkle with the demerara sugar, tilting the pan or pans to make an even coating of the sugar over the bottom and sides. Set aside.

Combine the sifted cake flour and salt and pass the mixture through a sieve or a sifter from one bowl into another 3 times. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until the mixture is light yellow and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract, vanilla seeds and orange zest. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the cream and beginning and ending with flour, and scraping down the sides of the bowl to combine. (Don’t worry if it looks a little curdled.) Increase the speed to medium and beat for 3 minutes. The batter should be very light and fluffy.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans, smooth the top and place in the cold oven. Turn the oven to 350°F and bake until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then carefully remove the cake, rounded side up, to a wire rack and let cool completely. Serves 12.

Notes: Measure sifted flour by spooning it lightly into the measuring cup. If your kitchen is cooler than 72°F, you might have to soften the butter for a few seconds in the microwave.

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Foolproof, by Ina Garten (Clarkson/Potter Publishers, 2012).