Beyond Happiness: Omi’s Orange Pound Cake from Jennifer Guttman

Although Beyond Happiness doesn’t discuss food per se, while writing the book, I thought a lot about the people who had influenced the way I think about life. Their wisdom helped me hone in on some of the techniques that today make up SLS.

One of those people was my grandmother. I reference her in the chapter called “Closing.” Omi, as I called her, was an amazing cook. When I think about comfort food, I think about many of the foods she made for me as a child, which represent quintessential satisfaction for me.

Remarkably, what I now realize is that she was preparing three-course meals out of a kitchen with basically no counter space. Her kitchen was so small, she had to use the sink as an extra drying rack for glasses; when she finished baking, she would take the item to a bedroom to “rest” before serving. I would eagerly search each bedroom, hunting down my favorite treat, orange pound cake. The cake had a slightly browned top and insides that were the perfect texture—never dry, and infused with just the right amount of orange to sweeten it without making it too sugary.

Omi held the recipe only in her memory over the years, from her childhood in Germany to her life in the United States. She wrote it down only when, as an adult, I asked her to. Even then, the measurements were approximated. Omi’s special orange pound cake can serve as a perfect breakfast food, snack, or dessert. Although I’ve made it many times, I can’t say I’ve ever mastered it as she did. Maybe the dose of love she added from her German childhood is different from the dose of love I add today. But if you try this recipe, adding your own dose of love will make a difference every time. I hope you enjoy it as much as she did, and as much as I still do!

-Dr. Jennifer Guttman

Book Club Menu, Note. and Giveaway


8-10 servings

Prep Time

25 mins

Cook Time

50 mins

Beyond Happiness: Omi’s Orange Pound Cake from Jennifer Guttman

For the cake
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 medium oranges, washed and dried
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the icing
  • 4 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  1. To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Grease and flour a 10-1/4 x 5-1/4 inch loaf pan.
  2. Sift flour and baking powder into a medium bowl.
  3. Grate the zest from one orange, and set aside. Peel the second orange, separating orange zest from the white pith with a paring knife (this step is crucial to prevent any bitter flavor) Chop the zest in small pieces.
  4. With mortar and pestle, or in a small food processor, grind zest with ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, until the zest is finely ground and no longer visible. Juice both oranges, reserving juice for the icing.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the remaining ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar and softened butter.
  6. With an electric mixer, cream the mixture together until it becomes pale and fluffy. With a whisk, add eggs one at a time, whisking until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract and grated orange zest. Gently stir in the sifted flour and baking powder until just combined, being careful not to overmix.
  7. Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely, and remove from pan.
  8. To make the icing: place powdered sugar and orange juice in a medium bowl and stir to combine. You can add additional juice for a thinner glaze. Drizzle the icing over the cake once it has cooled.