In baking, everything is in the details. That’s why I love to use recipes from Cook’s Illustrated. They explain the science behind their tested techniques. Case in point; because egg yolks are great emulsifiers, adding extra yolks to a pound cake will “help the batter retain air making the cake light. Their fattiness contributes richness, tenderness and moistness.” And their deep yellow gives the cake a gorgeous golden hue.
After seeing a pistachio pound cake in Bon Appetit this Spring, I decided to make one for a baby shower. But I chose to use the Citrus Pound Cake recipe from The New Best Recipe, and then added the pistachios as a garnish on top of a lemony icing. The combination was a hit. Someone at the shower came up to me and shook my hand. “You made the pound cake? ” he asked. “You should be congratulated.”
Citrus Pound Cake with Lemon Icing and Pistachios
serves 8 to 10
from The New Best Recipe
16 tblsp (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 large eggs, plus 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp water
1/2 tsp salt
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange
1 1/2 cups plain cake flour
for frosting and garnish
1 8-oz package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1 tblsp lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped pistachios
1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat thte oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan. Fit a sheet of parchment paper lengthwise in the bottom of the greased pan, pushing it into the corners and up the sides.
2. Beat the butter in the bowl of a standing mixer at medium-high speed until smooth and shiny, about 15 seconds. With the machine still on, sprinkle the sugar in slowly, taking about 30 seconds. Beat the mixture until light, fluffy, and almost white, 4 to 5 minutes, stopping the mixer once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. Stir together the eggs, yolks, vanilla, and water in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. With the mixer running at medium-high speed, add the egg mixture to the butter and sugar in a very slow, thin stream. Finally, beat in the salt and two zests.
4. Place 1/2 cup of the flour in a sieve and sift it over the batter. Fold gently with a rubber spatula, scraping up from the bottom of the bowl, until the flour is incorporated. Repeat twice more, adding flour in 1/2-cup increments.
5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula or wooden spoon. Bake until a toothpick or thin skewer inserted into the crake running along the top comes out clean, 70 to 80 minutes. Let the cake rest in the pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack. Place a second wire rack on the cake bottom, then turn the cake to-side up. Cool to room temperature. (if not serving immediately, wrap the cake in plastic, then in foil and store at room temperature)
6. For the icing: In an electric mixer on medium, beat the cream cheese until softened. Slowly add the zest, juice and sugar and beat until creamy, about 3 minutes.
7. Spread a thick layer of frosting on the cooled cake, and sprinkle with chopped pistachios.