Orange Pound Cake

A somewhat healthier version of Barefoot Contessa’s orange pound cake. A sweet, citrus cake perfect with tea.

There are certain defining years in my life. 2006, the year I got married. 2004, the year I graduated college. Of course, 2003, the year I turned 21. I’d say that was also a defining one for my parents. Or at least a defining day when they found out about the little ER visit and the attempts at biting the nurse trying to strip me of my vomit covered clothes. But 1998, out of all 29 of them so far honestly sticks out as the most memorable.

Orange Pound Cake

It was the year we became upperclassmen in high school, the best season my soccer team ever had, an amazing summer with friends, boys, drinking parties (sorry mom and dad) in the woods and most notably, the year we all got our license.

Orange Infused Pound Cake

My birthday is in the spring so I’m not terribly old or young for my grade, but that year it felt like an eternity waiting for April to roll around. Thankfully, Melissa’s birthday was in January.

Melissa and I had played soccer and been friends since about 5th grade. We were both on the same club soccer team 30 minutes north of where we lived, we had the same group of high school friends and most importantly at the time, Melissa had a car. A late 80’s baby blue Chevy Cavalier. For some reason I also want to say it was a nun’s car before Melissa owned it (I could be completely making that up, not sure) which I think just adds something to the visual. A bunch of rowdy teenagers riding around in a car previously owned by a holy person. Ironic, no? It took us on many trips to the mall, to soccer practice and to parties. It was freedom epitomized. Until she totaled it, and then totaled the next one, and the next one too.

Easy Orange Pound Cake

That was 14 years ago. Today, Melissa turns 30.

Last night her and Ethan came over for dinner and we got to celebrate with wine and cake (we’ll forget about the fussy baby part).

Orange Pound Cake

If anyone knows cake, it’s Ina. The woman’s got butter and sugar down. I actually ended up tweaking one of her recipes a bit and making it a somewhat healthier. And by healthier, I mean just not heart attack inducing upon the first bite. This is not a “healthy” recipe in any way, shape or form.

I have to say, this time around, I’m happy to let Melissa go first on the birthday front. I’m going to milk these next 94 days for as long as possible.

Moist Orange Pound Cake

Happy birthday Melis, here’s to 2012, another defining year.

Yield: 8-10 servings

Orange Pound Cake

Orange Pound Cake

A somewhat healthier version of Barefoot Contessa's orange pound cake. A sweet, citrus cake perfect with tea.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes


For the Orange Pound Cake

  • 3/4 stick unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup orange zest
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • scant 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Glaze

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a loaf pan.
  3. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until fluffy (about 3 minutes)
  4. Add applesauce to mixer and combine.
  5. Add eggs one at a time while continuing to mix.
  6. Add orange zest
  7. Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk together.
  8. Combine remaining wet ingredients in another small bowl and whisk together.
  9. Alternate adding dry ingredients and wet ingredients to mixer, ending with the dry ingredients.
  10. Mix until well combined.
  11. Pour batter into loaf pan and smooth the top.
  12. Bake for approximately 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out dry.
  13. Cool in pan for 5-10 minutes then invert and then place on drying rack until fully cooled.
  14. Mix glaze ingredients in a small bowl and pour over the cake once cooled.


What was your most “defining” year and why?

filed in: Dessert
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  1. Julie @ Table for Two

    hahaha I loved reading your defining years, especially year 21. Trying to bite the nurse — classic! What a sweet story about you and your friend :) and amazing pound cake to go with that story!! I love pound cake (even though it’s so deadly dangerous) and the fact that you incorporated CITRUS in this is amazing! Yummm! I can’t remember a defining year..let me get back to you after this year, cause I have a feeling it’s a good year ;) and you’ll find out why very soon..!

    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      Yeah, that’s definitely a story. I’m not so sure about sharing that one with the world. Might have to be an in real life thing ;)

  2. katie @KatieDid

    oh god 21 sounds like it was a fun one….
    This brought me right back to high school when my oldest friend was always the one shuttling everyone around to beach parties and all the other trouble we somehow got ourselves into.
    And the bread- looks awesome, seeing tons of orange and also cranberry flavored dishes lately and it’s got me craving something like this badly!

  3. Heidi @ Food Doodles

    Oooh, I haven’t had pound cake in so long. I love the little things you did to make it a little healthier, and it still looks delicious :D Awesome memories – I wish I had more friends that I’ve known most of my life, but I moved a few times growing up. Thankfully there are still one or two :D I have to say 17/18 were pretty defining for me being in a new school for grade 12 and meeting my hubby. Oh and getting into LOTS of trouble, haha :D

  4. Barbara

    Well, …not sharing your story with the world…too late it’s in print…on the web…where
    everyone can see everything :o

  5. Baking Serendipity

    I love this post! And I love that you still have such a close friend from high school :) Makes me think of my high school years, and resolve to be a little more lenient with the students I keep expecting to sit up straight and stay silent in my classroom. I definitely needed that one! Delicious cake :)

  6. meg

    Yum. Can’t wait to make this for a special occasion (you know, so I don’t eat the whole thing by myself). I like that it has applesauce in it so it’s not as rich. Definitely pinning this so I remember it!

    My most defining year. I would choose 2007, the year I got married!

  7. Krissy @ Krissy's Creations

    Happy Birthday to your close friend :). I love pound cake — all the butter & sugar, yum! Your version looks fantastic!

  8. Melissa

    I absolutely loved coming over for dinner and then this post topped it! Thank you for having us for dinner and dessert, it was perfect!


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