So I had some sour cream to use up. A lot of the cooking I do starts this way. As an effort not to waste things. I can't remember now why I had sour cream in the fridge, but I couldn't let half a carton sit and spoil, no matter that it did cost all of $1.25 or thereabouts. I once made batch after batch of chutney just to empty a glass vinegar bottle, which - with its pretty embossed leaf pattern - I had designs on repurposing as a water jug. A good friend pointed out, quite sensibly, that I could have bought the bottle and just tipped its contents down the sink - but I just can't bring myself to waste anything. Besides, it's a good excuse to cook. So. The sour cream. I could have made cornbread. I could have baked a potato. But with all this glorious sunshine Sydney's been enjoying of late, I had organised a weekend picnic, so it seemed a cake was called for. This one I'd bookmarked from a blog a while ago, being a fan of all things orange, in colour and in cooking.
This recipe uses both the zest and juice of the fruit for a full-bodied citrus flavour. The sweetness of the orange is tempered nicely by the tang of the sour cream, which also gives the cake a stunningly smooth texture. It's light yet robust, and in its loaf form, eminently transportable - the perfect picnic cake. I'll be making it again (and again, no doubt as then I'll have the other half of the sour cream carton to use up).
Recipe adapted from Lottie and Doof, who in turn adapted it from Piece of Cake by David Muniz and David Lesniak
I was sort of on autopilot while making this cake, so didn't read the instructions for making the glaze at the end, only the list of ingredients. Assuming I just needed to combine them and pour over the cake, that's what I did (and was more than happy with the result) but include the original instructions here.
2 1/4 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons orange zest (from about 3 oranges)
3/4 cup (6 oz) butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups confectioner's (icing) sugar
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
Preheat the oven to 350 deg F. Butter a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan, line with parchment and dust with flour.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Combine the sour cream, vanilla and orange juice separately and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the sugar and orange zest on low speed til fragrant. Drop in the butter 2 tablespoons at a time until it is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. On low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as you go. Alternately add the flour and sour cream mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour, and mixing only until just combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
Bake the loaf for 45-60 minutes or until a cake tester emerges clean. Let it cool for about 10 minutes before releasing it from the pan.
To prepare the glaze, combine the confectioner's sugar and orange juice in a small pan and bring to the boil, stirring once or twice. Simmer for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and brush/pour over the warm cake. Let the cake cool completely before serving. Use a serrated knife to slice cake, as the glaze will be hard.