Wednesday, June 22, 2011

On Orange Rosemary Pound Cake, a Travesty

Pound cake is very inexpensive, very easy, and can usually be made with items you already have laying about. Butter, sugar, flour, flavoring, baking powder. Isn't this loaf gorgeous? Doesn't it just inspire you to fling open the doors of your pantry and get a mixin'? (Consider yourself warned: this little endeavor does not turn out like you're expecting it to. Unless you're a regular reader. Then you know exactly how it turns out.)



Oranges are very affordable right now. With frugality on my mind, I set about finding delicious ways to use them. Lemon is wonderful in pound cakes, so why not orange?

First, let's get organized:
(A) Dirty French press from the morning's coffee.
(B) Dirty salad spinner from salads from the day before.
(C) Clean slicer, from weeks ago when we made jerky but it's a real hassle to fit the thing back in our over-stuffed kitchen hutch.
(D) Clean dehydrator trays. See "C" above.
(E) Dried rosemary from three years ago. This is a clue.
(F) Token bottle of booze.

(Not an Instagram. Just poor photography and amateur Photoshop skills.)
And to spare ourselves some fat, I used half sour cream and half small curd cottage cheese. Hey, if you can replace oil with apple sauce for cakes and butter with black beans for brownies why not exchange part of one dairy product for another for pound cake? This plan is flawless.
Field Mortar and Pestle.
I don't have any fresh rosemary around to muddle, but dried will work just fine. I also don't have a proper way to grind herbs, but no matter. As they say, any tool can be the right tool. Into a small bowl goes the rosemary with a healthy glug of Grand Marnier to infuse. I know all it takes is a little pressure, a little moisture, and a little alcohol to soften these pine needles right up and restore the flavor they had fresh. After a quick soak and the heat of being baked in batter, there's no way they'll still be sharp, flavorless little sticks. This is a clue.

And we add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. We also add all the Grand Marnier from the rosemary bowl. The batter seems a little wet, but generally, baking is something you can wing. Adding that much extra moisture won't affect the final texture of the cake. This is another clue.
Oh what a lively batter! Look at the little flecks of orange zest and green rosemary. This will be a feast for the senses for certain! I made sure to beat it on high for a good three minutes to whip out any cottage cheese chunks.

Looks like I missed a few chunks, but no matter.

This is another clue.

And while it baked, I simmered some white sugar with a 1/4 cup of water, a few tablespoons of orange zest and yes, a good glug of Grand Marnier. This delicious dual-textured syrup will be drizzled on the pound cake while it's still hot. I'm certain the candied bits of orange zest will not threaten your fillings. Certain. Clue clue clue.

Behold! My beautiful loaf of Orange Rosemary Pound Cake, fresh out of the pan:

[Sigh.] You may as well know the truth.

Aaah!

Eeeek!

For shame!

I think I'll enter this in Food and Wine's Best Food Photo contest. Oh, wait...
Mystery-lovers, have you been following the clues I pointed out? Are you ready for the great reveal?

1) When they cookbooks instruct you to replace dried herbs once a year, they actually mean once a year.

2) Use fresh rosemary or no rosemary at all in baked goods.

3) Baking = Chemistry. (I actually did fail Chemistry.)

3) Strain drizzling syrup of orange zest.

4) COTTAGE CHEESE LUMPS DO NOT BAKE OUT.

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