Treasure State Tropical Bundt® Cake
I am wild about this cake, a buttery, eggy, not-too-sweet pound cake loaded with citrus flavor. Montana is known as the Treasure State, and western Montana, where we live and where the climate is strongly influenced by Pacific coastal weather systems, tends to have milder winters compared to the rest of the state. Because of this, a very popular bumper sticker appeared several years ago, proclaiming “Native of Tropical Montana.” Whenever I traveled by car to points south, people always commented on that message. Montana is, of course, far from tropical. But I make this cake to honor the sentiment on the bumper sticker and to use up egg yolks left over from angel food cake. This scrumptious cake has a fine crumb and tender texture and is great served in thin slices with tea or coffee. It stays fresh for 4 to 5 days, covered, at room temperature. Or you can bake and freeze it, uniced, for up to 2 months.
A couple of years ago I wrote an article for Gastronomica called Please Don’t Call It Pound Cake because many bakers were using the term “pound cake” for practically any kind of cake in a tube pan that contained unspeakable amounts of chemical leavening. The classic, original, and traditional pound cake–made with approximately equal amounts of butter, sugar, flour, and eggs–contains no chemical leavening.
This citrus cake is a pound cake in spirit even though it has 1 teaspoon of baking soda because I use the soda to neutralize the acidity in the sour cream. The soda’s leavening action is a side effect of that function.
Treasure State Tropical Bundt® Cake
Unseasoned dry fine bread crumbs, for dusting the cake pan
4 cups (16 ounces) cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 1⁄2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
2 cups (14 ounces) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Grated zest of 1 orange
Grated zest of 1 lime
10 egg yolks plus 3 large eggs (1 1⁄4 to 1 1/3 cups total volume)
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 cup full-fat sour cream
1 1⁄3 cups (4 ounces) sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1⁄2 teaspoon pure orange extract
1 1⁄2 teaspoons hot water
For the cake, butter or coat with cooking spray a 10-inch, 3 1⁄2-inch-deep nonstick Bundt® pan and dust it generously with the bread crumbs. Tap out excess crumbs and set the pan aside. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-third position and preheat the oven to 350°F.
Measure the cake flour by dipping a dry 1-cup measure into the flour container, filling the cup to overflowing, and sweeping off the excess with a metal spatula. Transfer the flour to a sifter set over a square of waxed paper. Add the baking soda and salt and sift together 3 times.
In the large bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed about 1 minute until it is smooth and creamy. While beating on medium speed, gradually add the sugar. Add the vanilla. Increase the speed to medium high and beat 5 minutes. The butter and sugar will become fluffy and white in color.
Add the zests and beat them in.
Beat the yolks and eggs together with a fork just to combine well. With the mixer on medium speed, slowly add the eggs to the butter and sugar in a thin stream taking about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium high and beat for 1 minute until very smooth. Then beat in the lime juice.
On low speed add the dry ingredients in four additions, alternately with the sour cream in three additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat only until each addition is incorporated. Stop periodically to scrape down the bowl well between additions. The batter will be thick.
Spoon it into the prepared pan and spread it level with a rubber spatula. The batter will fill the pan by about two-thirds.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the cake domes up above the rim of the pan, is a rich golden brown color and has cracks on top. A cake tester or wooden skewer inserted between the edge of the pan and the tube comes out clean and dry. If you take the temperature of the cake with a digital probe thermometer, it will register 200 to 205˚F.
Let the cake cool in the pan set on a rack for 30 minutes, then cover it with a cake rack, invert the two, wait about 30 seconds to allow the cake to release, and lift off the pan. If the cake is lazy and won’t come out, grasp the pan and the rack together with potholders, give a good shake, and the cake should release. Cool the cake completely with its top side down.
Prepare the icing by whisking together all of the ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. The icing will be the consistency of medium-thick cream. Adjust the consistency with a little more confectioners’ sugar or hot water if necessary. Set the cake on its rack onto a sheet of waxed paper. Spoon and spread the icing on the top of the cake to cover it completely, letting some drip unevenly down the sides. The waxed paper will catch the dribbles. When the icing has set, carefully transfer the cake with a wide metal spatula to a dessert platter. Cover and let the cake stand a few hours before cutting into thin slices for serving. Notice the cake’s fine crumb.
Store, covered, at room temperature for up 4 to 5 days.
Makes 1 large Bundt® cake, 12 to 16 servings.