[Photograph: Carrie Vasios]

The original recipe for pound cake is a glimpse into the early days of baking. It calls for a 1:1:1:1 pound ratio of flour, eggs, butter, and sugar. The simplicity of this recipe implies the days before the Food Network or Epicurious, when elaborate recipes were closely guarded family secrets, or at least much more difficult to spread around. It also makes me wonder why the contestants on Top Chef flounder so easily when required to bake a cake. Make a pound cake, guys. You can't forget the recipe (at least I hope you can't) and it's almost impossible to go wrong.

The real beauty of pound cake is how easily it is to adapt. For example, in the summer, I'll cut this cake into layers and fill it with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. But I like its winter incarnation equally—I flavor the rich, buttery cake with oranges and ginger. The bright citrus flavors do so well at mediating the pound cake's tendency towards heaviness that I leave it as one giant cake, no layers needed.

The icing is a simple mix of freshly squeezed orange juice and confectioners' sugar. You could forgo the icing to keep this cake extra simple, but I wouldn't. It adds an extra punch of flavor and makes the dish even more impressive to the guests you'll need to invite over to finish this behemoth off.

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Glazed Orange Pound Cake »


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