Orange Party Cake

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.

Slice of Orange Party 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!

  • Cake
    • 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
  • Buttercream
    • 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

Candied Citrus


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.

Candied oranges, loquats, and lemon

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).


Beat the zest, sugar, and butter

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.

Beat the batter

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.

Freshly baked cake

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.


Orange buttercream

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.


Assemble the cake: cake, marmalade, buttercream, loquats

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.

Decorate the frosted cake

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!

Orange Party Cake

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!

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38 Responses to “Orange Party Cake”

  1. deeba Says:

    Oooh it’s lovely to see a party cake here Mike. Citrus is one of my fave flavours & this cake does look SO REFRESHING! Very yummy indeed!

  2. Joan Nova Says:

    W-o-W! It’s beautiful and you can tell that it’s light and fluffy. Great job! (as usual)

  3. RecipeGirl Says:

    Nice! Dorie sure has some great recipe in that book. It’s definitely a must-have for baking. I love the addition of the citrus in there. Makes it looks so refreshing and seasonal.

    Hope you’ll enter my Superbowl Recipe contest! You can win a $250 gift card!

  4. Terri Says:

    Mike, this looks wonderful. I’m really tired of dense, gooey, sticky desserts and ready for something citrusy and light. This oughta do it! I’m going to have to give this a try.

  5. mikky Says:

    wow… this is just perfect… light and citrus sounds great… :) happy chinese new year to you and wife…

  6. Bellini Valli Says:

    Dorie Greenspan seems to be the maven of baking these days. Her recipes always taste delicious as well as work well!!

  7. grace Says:

    yep, refreshing is definitely the word popping into my head. wowza. i can safely say i’ve never had an orange-flavored cake, but i wouldn’t mind it, no sir. the texture looks awesome, and the frosting could be consumed by itself. lovely.

  8. Holler Says:

    You constantly astound me with your cake baking skills Mike! I bow down to you in wonder (drooling a bit too!) :)

  9. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) Says:

    That is one sunshiny cake — the perfect antidote to these grey New England days!

  10. Bunny Says:

    Your talkin my language Mike, I love this cake. I’m quite partial to citrus! Lovin this!

  11. the caked crusader Says:

    stunning looking cake – I’m impressed at the candied peel too! I bet it all tastes very fresh and delicious

  12. Aparna Says:

    Your cake looks gorgeous. The contrast between the orange and white is lovely, so much so that I’m tempted and I’m not really a cake or frosting person.

  13. Sandie Says:

    Why can’t it be citrus season here in KC? Oh, that’s right, we can’t grow oranges here in Kansas and Missouri! When the citrus starts looking a bit better in our local markets, I’ll be giving this cake a whirl. It just screams refreshing!

  14. pam Says:

    That cake needs to be on the cover of a magazine!

  15. we are never full Says:

    my mom just landed in florida and texted me a pic of the beach. i’m sitting in brooklyn freezing my a$$ off. i want it to be ANYTHING season besides stew season. i’m cold! and i’m hungry and i’m looking at this post and getting very jealous. this looks so ridiculously good. i have a sweet tooth right now.

  16. lisa (dandysugar) Says:

    Yum, your citrus cake is divine! The texture looks so light and moist. I love Dorie’s party cake recipe. I made a mixed berry variation awhile back. But, the citrus gives it such a fresh new take. I love it!

  17. Heather Says:

    That just looks like a creamy bite of sunshine, right there. I usually don’t go for desserts, but (good) cake is my weakness.

  18. Dragon Says:

    This is my kind of cake!

  19. Hélène Says:

    Gorgeous and I love cake also. Keep baking them.

  20. nina Says:

    I love orange cake, but I love all the texture you ahve added to this cake…..simply delicious!

  21. Sam Says:

    Hello Mike,
    I accidentally came across the blog, The Daily Tiffin where i read the article posted by you today about how you go about picking up things for your daily cooking depending on what’s available in the season.I liked the article and i do the same too.I’m also into blogging and i also publish posts on food, i must say that food has been my priority.So i invite you to take a tour of my blog……………..

  22. Jan Says:

    I don’t like cakes (only coz I’d rather eat two dinners) LOL. But that really does look good!

  23. sunita Says:

    What a beautiful cake Mike…I can actually smell it :-)

  24. robin Says:

    This cake looks fabulous Mike. Are the tiny little candied round loquats? And are they different from kumquats? They’re very pretty.

  25. Mary Says:

    You are killing me with these cakes! I LOVE cake. But if I make a cake I’m the only one eating it. My husband does not like cake and prefers pie instead. I guess I’ll just have to drool over photos of your cakes. Sigh.

  26. Peter Says:

    Mike, where’s the party?

    This cake bursts with florida sunshine…got an an extra slab for me?

  27. Marti Says:


    Gorgeous cake. I’m dying to try the recipe, but… I’m with Robin. What you are showing in your picture are KUMQUATS…. like mini oranges only you eat them whole and for the taste of the peel?

    These are loquats:

    Totally different and NOT a citrus fruit.

    I’m still going ape over your recipe and pictures! :)

  28. Steph Says:

    Mike, your cake looks amazing!! I made Dorie’s cake a long time ago, actually it was my first vanilla layer cake. I was wondering, what did you think of the texture the next day? Still fluffy? I’m having a lot of trouble finding a recipe that stays fluffy and soft. Even after a few hours I notice that white cakes start to crumble.

  29. Chuck Says:

    Ok Mike I want to come sit at your table and have a piece of that delicious looking cake. Looks amazing!

  30. ingrid Says:

    Where are you in Florida? I’m in Florida, too and I KNOW you haven’t eaten all of that cake yet!!! I’m coming over for a slice…! I haven’t eaten lunch, it’s about to rain, and that would hit the spot & cheer me up that practice this evening will be in the rain! :-)

  31. Kevin Says:

    This orange cake looks and sounds so good! I like the candied meyer lemons!

  32. joanne at frutto della passione Says:

    Mike your buttercream recipe intriques me! I have been going crazy looking for a buttercream that a) isn’t too sweet (especially for my Italian husband and son who don’t like it very sweet) and b) doesn’t used crisco or any other veg shortening (unavailable here).

    I have been experimenting with all kinds of recipes but haven’t found the right one yet.

    I will be trying this very soon, and that cake looks amazing!!

  33. Joy the Baker Says:

    How did I miss this cake!? It’s gorgeous!

  34. Honey-Nut Brownies from Mike's Table Says:

    […] (and since you ask, it was a few weeks ago ), I was kind of caked out. I just happened to have made lots of cakes leading up to it, so we instead decided to celebrate with something different for dessert: […]

  35. Sauced Says:

    I’m not even much of a cake person but I’m on a serious citrus kick right now and this looks delicious! I love the pictures of the assembly!

  36. MariannaF Says:

    looks incredible, and sent some sunshine through my screen to brighten up this gloomy day in paris today!! lovely recipe!

  37. Orange Anise Ice Cream from Mike's Table Says:

    […] decide if you want to have chunks of candied citrus mixed into your ice cream. I had some handy from a previous dessert (recipe posted there), so it was […]

  38. Nancy Says:

    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 second that! I’ve made about a dozen items from the book and they all rock!

    The French Pear Tart is wonderful!! Even better with Asian Pears,

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