Friday, May 18, 2007

Martha Stewart Pound Cake With Orange-Blossom Syrup

Indian, Middle Eastern and Greek desserts have captured my attention for years now. They're the pinnacle of sweet decadence often deep friend and then soaked in a sugar syrup. It's hard to eat a lot because of the intensity of sweet. Our Halal butchers offer a variety of Middle Eastern sweets that knock your socks off (and your blood-sugar levels up) like Baklava, Bellah Essham (churros-like dough fingers deep fried and soaked in syrup) and Basboosa, a coconut cake, which once baked is also soaked in syrup. Clearly in the Middle East dessert is all about the syrup.

I made a loose version of the Basboosa minus the coconut that features orange-blossom essence in the syrup that permeates the cake. I use a modified version of Martha Stewart's pound cake recipe adding a syrup of sugar, water and orange-blossom essence while the cake is still hot out of the oven.

Here's a half recipe of the pound cake:

2 cups sifted flour (Martha suggests cake flour but I used all-purpose to a good result)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsps baking powder
1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar (the original recipe calls for more than twice that but we'll be putting enough in the syrup)
8 eggs at room temp.
1/2 cup milk at room temp.
2 tsps orange-blossom essence (Martha called for 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest, but we know better)

Here's the recipe for Orange-Blossom Syrup:

1-1/2 cups water
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange-blossom essence

For the Cake:

Preheat oven to 325F. Butter and flour a round 9 x 3 inch cake pan. Whisk the flour, salt and baking powder in a medium-sized bowl and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, mix the butter and sugar together until fluffy (this takes a lot of elbow grease and some time or you can just use a mixer if you have one, I don't). Add one egg to the sugar-butter and beat until fully incorporated. Add each other egg one at a time beating to fully incorporate before adding the next. Once the last egg is incorporated, add the milk and orange blossom essence and stir until they are well mixed in. Add the flour mixture into the wet ingredients 1/3 at a time. Bake for 1 hour or until the cake is a deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. With the same toothpick poke deep holes all over the cake at 1 centimeter intervals. This will help the syrup to be absorbed.

For the syrup:

Pour the sugar and water into a saucepan and bring to a boil, cooking until all the sugar is dissolved. Take off heat and add the orange-blossom essence. Pour slowly onto the cake, making sure to saturate every part of it. Hopefully you will be able to use the high rim of the cake pan to catch extra syrup so that it doesn't spill over. Let cake rest until completely cooled (a few hours at least) before serving. Music to let cake rest by: "Stickshifts and Safetybelts" by CAKE (you just gottsta LOVE this song!) This is very sweet (but not as sweet as the halal butchers' Basboosa!) so it goes very well with an unsweetened cup of black coffee or a shot of espresso.

Now, my cake is tasty, but to see orange blossom cake at its beautiful best, go to Passionfruit and Mangoes!


Blogger nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

thanks for the recipe. I can smell it now.

5:45 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

. . . bucket seats have all got to go. When I'm driving in my car, they make my baby seem so far . . .

Great idea. I love the orange blossom water series. When my lemon tree is blooming, I sometimes make Moroccan tea with fresh mint, lemon blossoms, hot water, and sugar. It's amazingly fresh and special.

Happy day!

11:26 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Ragazza, And it DOES smell good!

Hi Christina, That tea sounds marvelous. How do you get the essence out of the lemon blossoms? Do you just steep them along with the tea and mint?

10:33 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yes, I just toss a handful of blossoms in the teapot with the mint and sugar, and pour boiling water over all. Super simple.

I'm making your carnitas recipe for dinner tonight. I'm looking forward to it.

11:55 PM  

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