Honey Vanilla Pound Cake with Orange Whipped Cream

Between 1987 and 1988 I attended Abraham Pierson School, for the fourth and fifth grades. It is the most handsome school in Clinton, Connecticut. Built of brick, three storeys high, the structure sits back from Main Street with a flagpole, gazebo, and statues of important and historic men on its lawn. It is located between the town green and town hall. In summer this street is crowded above eye level with deciduous leaves and American flags and in winter it is all lit up with wreaths and white lights, a crèche for Christmas and the booths of crafters and food vendors for a fair in summer displayed on the hill in front of the white Congregational Church. You can alternately smell the sea and the Driftwood dive bar, even though the latter is closed going on over a year, and which I consider as important and historic and central to the town I grew up in as the statues of the men who founded Yale.

Honey Vanilla Pound Cake

Inside the grammar school children who are all old enough not to pee their pants but who are not yet ready for sticky adolescent dances change classrooms for various subjects, do book reports on novels and projects on continents, tease each other mercifully, pass petitions, and peer through the great glass windows overlooking the dreaded gymnasium. I learned about Aborigines, JFK, and multiplication tables there. It was in Ms. Jacobson’s room, a stuffy in the summer with the windows open and steamy in the winter with the radiators whistling kind of classroom, where we moved our desks into a horseshoe shape with scraping and squealing and ditto papers falling from the front opening, so that we could better see the board and all the attending visual aids hulking Mrs. Jacobson made for our benefit. There were groups of numbers everywhere, numbers that fit together for a reason, that left a searing sort of imprint on my brain. There were a dozen ways of making us understand how three times four came out to be twelve in every single instance, but this way of seeing integers in a relationship makes sense to me still, better than flash cards or pictographs or calculator results.

This is how I think about ingredients sometimes, when I am lying in bed awake, considering cake. Threes of things that go together, according to a Platonic state or universal mind or an order according to the laws of music and of physics. Vanilla, orange, and cream. A transcendent triptych of flavors. They can be arranged and rearranged in infinite possibilities. This is how they came to me one afternoon this week as I was sick on the couch contemplating a vase of daffodils. It’s a good pound cake, though you may start to wonder after 72 minutes if it ever will get done. It will, be patient. Test the center with a toothpick and tent with foil if you fear the top getting burnt. I love a whipped cream hardened with a little booze, but use an extract if you prefer. This topping is only just a little sweet, and pairs perfectly with the dense but delicious dessert. Add some blackberries to the plate just for kicks.

Honey Vanilla Pound Cake1


Honey Vanilla Pound Cake with Orange Whipped Cream

  • Yield: 1 Loaf 1x


For the pound cake:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 cups sifted cake flour*
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

For the orange whipped cream:

  • 1 cup cold whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier) or orange extract
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 2 heaping tablespoons confectioner’s sugar


For the pound cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Prepare a loaf pan with butter and flour.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream butter and sugar, 4-5 minutes.
  4. In a measuring cup or small bowl crack eggs and measure in vanilla, honey, and lemon zest. Add this to the batter, scraping down after the addition of each egg.
  5. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add dry ingredients to the batter, until just combined.
  6. Pour into prepared cake pan. Bake 65-80 minutes, tenting with foil if needed for the last 10 minutes.
  7. Allow the cake to cool in a pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a plate to finish cooling.

For the orange whipped cream:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or using handheld beaters, combine cold whipping cream, orange liqueur or extract, orange zest, and confectioner’s sugar. Beat on medium-high until soft peaks form. Don’t overwhip!


Adapted from a recipe by Barefoot Contessa


Jillian Bedell

Jillian Bedell is a writer and mother living in a farmhouse in Cushing, Maine. She is very good at talking about herself in the third person. She is co-author of Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road.

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