With zesty orange flavor and a bright pink blood orange glaze, this blood orange pound cake brightens up winter days.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve hit what I call the “desperate” phase of winter – also known as the “get me out of here, when will it end” phase of winter. That time when the grey skies, constant snow and ice, and feeling like your face will freeze every time you go outside makes you want to lose your mind.
This blood orange pound cake is the only thing pulling me back.
Citrus, really, is the lone bright spot in winter produce for me. Root vegetables are fine and all, but there’s only so many roasted sweet potatoes or carrot cake scones one can eat. Not that I’m not up for a challenge where the latter is concerned.
No, when we hit this point in winter dreariness I need the brightness of lemons, grapefruits, and oranges to get me through (see, e.g., this grapefruit yogurt cake I made around this time last year).
I’m super jealous of Californians and Floridians who have these winter jewels at their disposal in their backyards. Oh, and Italians. Basically anyone who doesn’t live in the upper Midwest. Why do I live here again?
At least Imperfect Produce makes it easy for me to pretend I have an orange tree in my backyard. They sent me a bunch of blood oranges over the past few weeks, and I had to make them into something good. (See the end of this post for a coupon code to get 50% off your first box).
A couple years back I made this blood orange upside-down cake, and I loved how the olive oil cake paired with the brown sugar blood oranges. I wanted a bit of a firmer, more substantial cake this time, however, so I decided to go with a pound cake in loaf form. I feel like this is a more accessible, more casual form of cake than a traditional round.
Plus, let’s be honest, loaf cakes make it easier to slice off snacking portions during the day.
So, in this cake we’re using both blood orange zest and blood orange juice in the batter to bring out the flavor, and then topping it with a lovely (totally naturally colored) blood orange glaze. I love how bright pink this is!
Tips for blood orange pound cake success:
- Rub the orange zest and sugar together with your fingers before blending with the other ingredients. This releases the oils in the zest and makes your cake more fragrant with orange flavor.
- Cream the butter and orange sugar together until very light and fluffy. We’re introducing air bubbles into the batter using this method, which is important for the rise and final texture of the cake.
- When the flour is added, only mix until just combined, so you don’t deflate those air bubbles we created.
- For the glaze, start with the lower amount of juice called for, then slowly add by the teaspoon until the glaze is just pourable. You don’t want the glaze to be too thin or you won’t get that opaque pink we are going for. Also, glaze the cooled cake, not a warm cake, so the glaze stays thick.
So, here it is, my cure for the mid-February blues. This blood orange pound cake has a plush, rich crumb, and it’s not too sweet but still has that brightness from the blood orange glaze that sets it off perfectly. This cake may not stop your skin from drying out or make the sun come back any sooner, but it does help us remember that brighter days are ahead.
Until then, you can find me on my couch under a blanket until further notice.
Blood Orange Pound Cake
For the cake:
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (measured via spoon and level method)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- Zest of one blood orange
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature (1 stick)
- 2 large eggs (room temperature preferable)
- ⅓ cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice (from about 2 blood oranges)
For the Blood Orange Glaze:
- ¾ cup powdered sugar
- 2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed blood orange juice
For the Cake:
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8.5×4.5 or 9×5 inch loaf pan and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the dry ingredients until combined: flour, baking powder, salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, rub the sugar and orange zest together with your fingers until the mixture becomes fragrant. This releases the oils in the zest and makes your cake more flavorful.
- Add the butter and, using a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar/zest mixture on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add in eggs, one at a time, and mix until completely incorporated. Mix in blood orange juice on low speed (mixture may look curdled, that’s ok).
- Dump the dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients and stir together until just combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth out the surface, and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until cake springs back when touched and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. If you’re using a 9×5 inch pan, start checking at 40 minutes.
- Let cake cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then carefully turn out the cake onto a wire rack. Let cake cool completely, then glaze with the blood orange glaze.
For the Blood Orange Glaze:
- In a medium bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons of blood orange juice to start. Gradually add more juice, a teaspoon at a time, until mixture is thick but pourable.
- Evenly pour glaze over the cake and allow to drip down the sides. This is best done when the cake is completely cool, so the glaze doesn’t get too thin from the heat.
- Garnish with blood orange slices if desired and serve!
Thank you to Imperfect Produce for sending me the blood oranges I used in this recipe. All opinions are my own! If you want to sign up for your own Imperfect Produce deliveries, you can get 50% off your first box with code “katiebird”!