Sometimes I conduct food experiments.
I’m not referring to cooking or baking, but more of what I eat. Yesterday was going to be such an experiment, but halfway through the day, I changed my mind.
Now and again, I dial back my carb intake for a few days, as my own little detox. It’s very easy for me to get pretty intense cravings for sugar or starch, and when they seem to overpower my desire for more nutritious food, I take a few days to get back on track.
So yesterday, I had a plan to avoid sugar and starch. I thawed some chicken soup from the freezer – it’s heavy on the chicken but has enough carrots and celery to provide some veggies, and planned on a few nachos for dinner (sounds funny, I know, but a serving of tortilla chips smothered with taco meat and cheese is surprisingly low in carbs). Breakfast was rough, as it always is when I try to avoid starch; pretty much the only thing I can tolerate in the morning is something with grains, especially this time of year. I nearly overdose on yogurt with fruit each summer, so that’s often out of the question come January. Instead, I had a piece of swiss cheese and a handful of mixed nuts.
It made me sad.
I did make it through breakfast and lunch, but after shoveling for the second time that day with the wind whipping snow in my face, all I wanted was a steaming mug of cocoa. Preferably with a marshmallow.
And this, folks, is why I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions anymore. (Incidentally, I heard on the news yesterday that the third Monday in January marks the day people are the most depressed in winter – a combination of the holidays having passed, lack of sunlight, and failed resolutions. Because in the US it was a holiday yesterday, they’ve pushed depression day back a week.)
Instead, I reminded myself that I’ve been working on a cooking/baking bucket list for the year. I reminded myself that over the past year, I’ve made a lot of changes on how I eat, without really changing what I eat. I am the type that needs to truly allow myself to have what I want to eat, and balance that with what I need to eat.
It can be very difficult, allowing yourself whatever you please. I tried that for years, but truthfully, I could never do it without feelings of guilt. But then something big happens in life, a game changer. All of a sudden, you view food differently, in terms of it satisfying both your nutritional needs, as well as the needs of your soul. The harmony of these needs is what makes me happy and feeling good.
So to achieve personal nirvana (or so I tell myself), I decided to make this pound cake. I’ve been itching to use one of my bags of frozen cranberries, and I even had some oranges in the fridge, oranges that I bought specifically to entice me into using the cranberries.
I love the sweetness of the orange glaze combined with the tart cranberries, all wrapped up into a moist sour cream pound cake. It’s a burst of sunshine to your day when nature refuses to provide it.
Orange Cranberry Pound Cake
somewhat adapted from Everyday Food, July/August 2010
½ cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
zest of 1 orange
2 large eggs (room temperature)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 12 ounce bag fresh/frozen cranberries
1 ½ cups + 1 teaspoon all purpose flour, divided
½ teaspoon aluminum free baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup sour cream (room temperature)
for the glaze:
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon milk
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease 9×5 inch loaf pan with butter (or use cooking spray), then line with parchment, first with a sheet covering the long side of the pan, then with a sheet covering the short side of the pan, with about an inch or two of overhang on all sides. Grease the top of the parchment with butter.
Whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl, set aside.
Beat the sugar and orange zest on medium to break down the oils in the zest. Add the butter and cream on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add eggs, one at a time until blended, then add vanilla.
Reduce speed to low and add the flour in 3 batches, alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour. Be careful not to overmix. With a spatula, scrape the batter off the sides and bottom of the bowl and fold to mix. Add cranberries, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon flour; fold to mix. Transfer batter to prepared loaf pan.
Bake for 1 ¼ hours or until an inserted toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then remove to wire rack sitting on a baking sheet to cool completely.
Prepare glaze. Whisk confectioners’ sugar, milk, and orange juice until smooth. Drizzle over cake.
When glaze has set, transfer cake to serving platter before cutting.