Sunday, January 22, 2012

Citrus Flavoured Butter Cake

My quest, for as long as I can remember, has been to make a perfect butter cake.

I love butter cakes more than any other cake on the planet. A simple butter cake — you know, the kind you have at birthday parties, iced with a delicious buttercream topping that's sweet and uncomplicated? A butter cake that is tender and moist?

Yup, butter cakes make me happy. It reminds me of my childhood, of family, of close friends and of happy occasions. No one mourns or sulks with butter cake. Nope, that's what ice cream and chocolate is for. Butter cakes are celebratory.

I've tried a number of recipes and while always tasty, they were never perfect. The texture was never just right, you know? A little dry, a little dense. A crumb that was too thick or not apparent enough. It was frustrating, to say the least.

Then I stumbled upon a recipe for Trish Boyle's Plainly Perfect Pound Cake. Now, I've never quite understood the difference between the two (the pound cake and butter cake). To my understanding, the difference is that a pound cake is supposed to be made with a pound of each of the main ingredients: flour, butter, sugar and eggs and if you adjust the quantities, you have to adjust them equally). Taste wise, I'd say the two are very similar, except that the pound cake is perhaps a little denser.

 Trish Boyle's Plainly Perfect Pound Cake is kinda like a pound cake (the measurements for all four ingredients are equal, almost) but it sure tastes like the butter cakes I grew up eating and still love to eat so much. If someone else has a better distinction between the two I'd be indebted to learn. :)

Apart from the four essential ingredients (flour, butter, sugar and eggs) and the leavening agent (baking powder), she also adds a small measure of heavy cream which gives the cake an obvious rich and creamy texture which I really adored.

The citrus accents from the zests of both oranges and lemons added a freshness to the cake that I welcomes.

Hers came plain, without any frosting which is fine but I decided to slather on a thin layer of butter cream frosting, also flavoured with the citrus zest.

Trish Boyle's Plainly Perfect Pound Cake
(adapted from Shirley of Kokken69)

200g plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
226g butter (softened)
226g sugar (you don't have to be so precise; 200 or 250 is fine)
4 eggs
80ml heavy cream
1 tsp orange zest, or slightly more if desired
1 tsp lemon zest, or slightly more if desired
1 tsp vanilla essence

Topping (enough for only the top of the cake)
50g butter, softened
100g icing sugar, sieved

Preheat the oven to 170C

Sieve the flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.

Cream the butter until light and pale. Add the sugar and beat till light and fluffy, about 3 mins.

Add the eggs, one at a time and mix till well incorporated. Add the vanilla and the zests.

Lower the speed of the mixer and add the flour in three installments, alternating with the cream.

Pour batter into a greased/lined/greased and lined loaf pan.

Reduce the heat to 160C and bake for 60-70 mins or till a tester  inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Let cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting, cream butter until light and add the sugar. Beat till fluffy. Chill for at least 30 mins. Remove and beat till soft (about 2 mins) and spread on the cake once it has cooled.

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