Tuesday, February 5, 2013

ORANGE-PECAN POUNDCAKE WITH CHOCOLATE GANACHE


What could be more Southern than poundcake?  And this one will make Southerners smile:  The top of an orange-flavored poundcake is studded with broken pecans, a succulent orange glaze is brushed over the  warm cake, then the cooled cake is thinly frosted with chocolate ganache and topped with whole pecans.  Serve plain or with ice cream, whipped sweetened heavy cream or creme fraiche for a decadent, delicious dessert.

For a successful cake, instructions should be followed exactly.  It may seem like a lot of trouble to whisk the flour first, then sift it twice, but that's how you get a smooth batter that rises beautifully and produces a delicate, soft-textured cake.  Believe me when I say that this cake is worth the extra trouble.

Other great poundcake recipes:
Orange-Glazed Pecan Sour Cream Poundcake with Chocolate Ganache
Sour Cream-Rum-Pecan Poundcake with Chocolate Ganache
Elvis Presley's Favorite Poundcake

Orange-Pecan Poundcake with Chocolate Ganache
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Rating:  9.5 out of 10
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CAKE:
1-1/2 tsp. unsalted butter, soft, for pan bottom + 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) soft for cake
1 cup broken or chopped pecans + 8-10 whole pecans to decorate top**
1-3/4 cups + 2 Tbsp. King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour*
1 tsp. baking powder
3-ounce pkg. Neufchatel or regular cream cheese, room temperature soft
3/4 tsp. Diamond Kosher salt
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp. finely grated orange zest
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract (I used my homemade vanilla powder.)
1 Tbsp. orange liqueur, such as Triple Sec
5 large eggs, room temperature
3 Tbsp. milk

*Though optional, toasting the pecans brings out a deeper flavor that enhances the cake.
**Whisk flour, then lightly spoon and level to measure.  You may substitute Gold Medal or Pillsbury unbleached all-purpose flour, if desired.

ORANGE GLAZE:
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. finely grated orange zest
3 Tbsp. orange liqueur, such as Triple Sec
1/2 tsp. orange extract

GANACHE:
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup good-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped

MAKE THE CAKE:  Adjust oven rack to center position.  Heat oven to 325F.  Butter a 9-cup Bundt pan with 1-1/2 tsp. soft butter and sprinkle bottom of pan with 1 cup broken or chopped pecans.  Sift flour and baking powder twice and set aside.

In bowl of standing mixer, using paddle attachment and medium speed, beat together butter, cream cheese, salt, sugar, zests, extract and liqueur for about 5 minutes, till well combined and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time and beat on medium speed after each addition till eggs are incorporated. (Mixture may curdle, but will come back together.)  Beat on high speed 3 minutes.  Stir in milk on lowest speed, then gradually add flour mixture on low speed, mixing just till combined.  Batter will be smooth and thick, but still pourable.  Pour and scrape batter into prepared pan, being careful not to displace pecans.


Bake 50-60 minutes, till a toothpick inserted near center returns with just a few crumbs, or an instant-read thermometer registers 200F.  Cool cake 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack to finish cooling -- nuts will now be on top.

Brush warm cake with glaze.  When cake is thoroughly cooled, carefully pour warm ganache over top.  Decorate top with whole pecans.

MAKE THE GLAZE:  While cake is baking, in saucepan, boil butter, sugar, zest and liqueur about 5 minutes till syrupy.  Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 tsp. orange extract.

MAKE THE GANACHE:  When cake is almost cool, in saucepan, boil cream.  Remove from heat and stir in chocolate till mixture comes together and is smooth.

TIP:  How long it takes to bring ingredients to room temperature depends on the temperature of your room. If your room is 70F or above, plan on 1/2 to 1 hour.  If it's below 70F, it could take as long as 2 hours.

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