Orange Pound Cake with Prune Filling

I have made butter cakes before, in fact, they are my favorite cakes to bake.  They’re mostly simple and quick to prepare, and they lend themselves to all manner of variations.  There’s this one, which uses graham cracker crumbs in place of some of the flour,  and this one, a banana cake flavored with banana chips and banana liqueur.   Another favorite is this one, which swirls together a lemon batter and a ginger-flavored batter for a delicious marble cake.  And I can’t forget this one, made with tahini and topped with a cinnamon and sesame seed streusel.  This cake is the latest addition to my butter cake collection and it is a winner.  It’s fashioned with the flavors of Brittany in mind; orange flower water, butter (of course), and an orange-scented prune filling.  Think of it as a combination of Far Breton, Gateau Breton, and good, old-fashioned pound cake.  The cake is rich and buttery, with a dense crumb.  There is a generous stripe of prune filling in the middle of the cake which adds a touch of sweetness and keeps the cake moist.  It’s even better the second day when the texture softens a little and the flavors seem to intensify.  Be sure that all your ingredients are at room temperature before you start to mix the batter for the cake.  You want to get the butter and sugar mixture very fluffy and light.  This, and the eggs, will provide lift to the cake as there is no baking powder in this recipe.  Enjoy!

Orange Pound Cake with Prune Filling
(makes one 9×5-inch loaf cake)
Mix together in a small, heavy saucepan:
3/4 cup prune juice
3 1/2 ounces pitted prunes, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the mixture is reduced to a thick paste.  Stir frequently to prevent sticking and burning, and mash the prunes as they cook.  This will take about 15 to 20 minutes.  Set aside to cool when done.  Preheat the oven to 300ยฐF and butter and flour a 9×5-inch loaf pan.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl, with a sturdy hand mixer), cream until fluffy:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Gradually beat in:
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
Add to the butter sugar mixture:
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
Beat in to the mixture, one at a time:
4 eggs, at room temperature
Sift over the butter mixture:
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Blend in the flour at the lowest speed until just combined.  Remove the bowl from the stand and stir in:
1 egg, at room temperature
2 teaspoons orange flower water
Run a large silicon spatula around the mixing bowl to ensure the ingredients are evenly combined.  Spread 2/3 of the batter (it will be a little stiff) into the prepared loaf pan.  Top with the cooled prune mixture, leaving a small border at the edges.  Top with the remaining cake batter, smoothing the top evenly.  Bake until the cake is deeply golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 30 minutes.  Cool the cake in the pan on a rack.
(from Bon Appetit, November, 1983)




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