Like I’ve said before, my wife and I are cake people. I thought I’d try to get us out of our chocolate cake rut and go for something completely different. Since its citrus season here in Florida, I thought I’d try to highlight the variety of lemons and oranges in a cake.
So before I go into how it tastes, I should let you know what’s actually in the cake. The cake itself is flavored with both lemon and orange, and wedged between all four layers is a sheet of orange marmalade, orange flavored buttercream, and bits of candied citrus (I candied a variety of fruit–more on this later). The cake was then frosted with more buttercream and decorated with more candied citrus.
Flavor-wise, the cake was truly spectacular and texturally, light as air. The flavor was light, citrusy, and fresh in that way you only get from lemon (if that makes any sense). The buttercream was also a hit–very rich and lightly tinged with orange. The marmalade and candied citrus layers brought more forward citrus flavors to the cake, making the cumulative bite sort of like an orange creamsicle in very decadent cake form. Aside from being a delicious dessert, it was also quite refreshing and a beauty to look at.
Also worth noting is that this cake is very largely derived from Baking: From My Home to Yours (called the Perfect Party Cake) by the ever-tempting Dorie Greenspan (if you bake at all, trust me, you want this book). I had been drooling over the weekly takes on Dorie’s recipes by other food bloggers, so it was simply a matter of time before I caved and got the book as well.
And one last note: you’ll notice this cake uses a lot of egg whites. Put those yolks to good use and whip up a batch of ice cream or two!
- 2.25 flour
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1.25 cups buttermilk
- 4 egg whites
- 1.5 cups sugar
- 2 tsp orange zest
- 1 stick butter
- 1/2 tsp lemon extract
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 egg whites
- 1.5 cups (3 sticks) butter
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Candied Citrus
- did ~2 big handfuls of loquats
- 2 red navels
- 1 navel
- 1 meyer lemon
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- ~18 oz orange marmalade
Begin by candying whatever citrus you intend to use inside and on top of your cake. I used loquats, red navel oranges, normal navel oranges, and Meyer lemons. We’ve got options here in Florida–If you don’t, don’t worry! Also, I used probably twice as much citrus as I actually needed (I wasn’t certain when I started). Using just the loquats or just the oranges and/or lemons would have been adequate (but now you can count on seeing a future recipe that uses the leftover candied citrus).
I cut all of them into thin rounds and did my best to discard the seeds. Get a pot of water boiling and add the citrus for about a minute before setting the citrus aside, dumping the water, and repeating two more times. This step is to remove the bitterness you get from the white pith.
At this point, add the measured amount of water to the pot along with the sugar and lemon juice. Raise to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved, and then add all of the citrus. Drop the heat to a medium simmer and cover the pot.
Check back in 30 minutes to see if it is done cooking–the citrus should be candied and tender (eat a piece to see). If not, check again in 15 minutes. Once done, remove from heat and let this cool to room temperature.
Once cool, fish out the citrus and lay it all out in a single lay on parchment paper so it can dry a bit. Boil the syrup that’s left behind until it reduces down–you’ll either wind up with orange scented syrup or jelly (added bonus).
Now, onto the cake. Rub the sugar and zest with your fingers to release some of the oils into the sugar. It should smell pretty nice. Beat this in the bowl of a stand mixer and then add the butter (which is at room temperature), beating until light and fluffy. Add the extract and briefly beat this in as well.
Sift the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk the remaining wet items in another. Add a third of the dry to the butter bowl, mixing just until incorporated, followed by half of the wet. Repeat this until everything is in and well mixed, continuing to mix for 2 minutes.
Butter two 9 inch cake pans, line the bottom with a round of parchment paper, and butter that as well. Pour half of the batter in each pan and bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. When done, get these out of the pan and let them cool on a rack for at least an hour.
The last component you need to make: the buttercream. First, I should mention that if you want more step-by-step photos of the buttercream process, I’ve described it in greater detail in the past.
Put the egg whites and sugar in a mixing bowl and set this over a pot of simmering water (a double boiler) but make certain the bowl is not actually touching the water. Whisk this for 3 minutes, at which point, the eggs should look like marshmallow. Get off of the heat and transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer and continue to whisk for another 5 minutes, allowing the mixture to cool down.
Switch from the whisk to the paddle and add the room temperature butter in one stick at a time, beating on medium-high speed until thick and smooth. Figure this will take somewhere around 8 or so minutes. Drop to medium speed and very slowly (if you dump it all in at once, it will curdle and separate) add the orange juice followed by the vanilla. At this point, you should have a beautiful looking buttercream.
And now, with all the components ready, its time to assemble the cake. First, carefully cut the two cakes in half with a long serrated knife so that you have four layers. Spread a thin layer of marmalade on one layer followed by a quarter of the buttercream. Then spread some of the candied citrus before adding the next layer of cake. Repeat the process until you put the topmost layer of cake on. Don’t top this off with marmalade or candied citrus.
Spread the remaining quarter of the buttercream over the entire outside of the cake. Decorate the top with candied citrus however suits your fancy. I don’t have the best eye in the world when it comes to cake decorating, so mine looks a little…homey and humble. lol, I’ve done much worse, so this is progress to me!
With your cake all assembled, give it some time in the fridge so the buttercream (and therefore the whole cake) can firm up a bit. Finally, carefully cut a slice and enjoy!