A traditional pound cake is one pound each of flour, sugar, butter and eggs. So not only a pound of each ingredient, but pounds on your waistline, too… Here’s an alternative that also uses equal weights of each ingredient, but one that’s healthier and far more unique and flavorful. Don’t have a scale? No worries, I have you covered.
Originally shared as an off-curriculum recipe by Juliette Lelchuk, formerly of the San Francisco Baking Institute, I’ve made it dozens of times with lots of variations. The ingredients are equal weights, not volume, of boiled whole citrus fruits, a nut meal/flour (finely ground nuts), sugar and eggs.
Juliette stated that this could be made with any citrus fruit, but I’ve found that only oranges and tangerines work to my liking. Lemons were too bitter, and limes were just gross. In the images shown, I’ve used blood oranges because they are in season, but regular Navel, Valencia or Cavas are just as good. I primarily use almond meal/flour, but hazelnut and even cashew work, each offering slightly different tastes and textures based on how much oil there is in the nut. Did you notice that there’s no flour in this cake? Right, it’s gluten free! (The bolded text isn’t a hyperlink. I was just excited to tell you it’s gluten-free).
To be organic or not to be? It’s up to you, but whenever I use zest of a citrus, or fruit of any kind, I try and use organic. Why? I just don’t want to eat a mouthful of pesticides. Did I convince you? (see my Facebook post on “the Dirty Dozen.”)
Here’s the recipe:
Boiled Citrus Pound Cake
- 454 grams Citrus puree** (about 5 medium-small oranges. Weigh them at the market and get as close to a pound as you can) (this makes 1 and 3/4 cups puree)
- 454 grams Nut meal/flour*** (e.g., almond, hazelnut, cashew, etc.) (5 cups, gently spooned in – not scooped – and leveled. The internet will tell you a pound of almond flour is 4.75 cups, but I consistently get 5 cups when spooned into a measuring cup)
- 454 grams Sugar (2 1/4 Cups)
- 454 grams Eggs (9 large eggs)
- Make the citrus puree: Soft boil whole, unpeeled citrus for 75-90 minutes in plenty of water until soft. A knife should easily pierce the peel and fruit. Set your timer and go do chores or watch TV. You don’t have to stand at the stove and watch the water boil. Just don’t leave the house with the burner on.
- Remove the fruit from water. Quarter each fruit, and remove any seeds and let cool.
- Puree via food processor, blender, or hand-mince the hell out of it. (Yes, including the peels!) I used blood oranges so mine looks red. Regular oranges (Navel, Cava, Valencia) will look orange.
- Stir all ingredients in a bowl until well mixed.
- For weights of 454 grams (one pound) of each ingredient, bake at 350F degrees in a greased parchment or foil-lined 9 X 13 pan for 45 – 50 minutes.
- When the center of the cake springs back to your touch, and the cake is lightly browned all over, it’s done.
- Once completely cooled, dust with powdered sugar. A dollop of crème fraiche, sour cream, or whipped cream is also nice.
*Note: This cake is scalable to any amount if the weights of the ingredients are the same. This recipe uses one pound of each ingredient for a 13 X 9 pan and baking times are based on this weight. Your oven and the size of your pan may affect baking time. Start checking five minutes before the time provided to check for doneness. This is a very moist and forgiving bake, but still, you’ve gone this far, so keep an eye on it, ok?
**Tip: If you’d like to make a double or triple batch of the citrus puree for future cakes, it freezes just fine in a well-sealed freezer bag. Slices of the baked cake tightly wrapped in plastic wrap also freeze well up to a month (you know, just in case you’re craving a snack weeks after you’ve made the cake.)