Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cake of the Week: Orange Cake

Has anyone else noticed a pervasive air of misery recently? 

It may be because we’re at that wintery point, where the wonder has worn off and the cold is just dragging on. Or it may be the let-down at the end of the Olympics. Or perhaps the world is depressed about the fact that post-college, Spring Break no longer exists...Really, I don’t know the ultimate source - I just know that recently I haven’t been the bundle of joy, love, and sunshine that I usually am.

So what does the world (and me) need? A sunshine-colored sweet slice of happiness, perhaps?

I'm not a huge orange person (remember my last post? It doesn't go with peanut butter).

Mainly because when I was a kid, my mom put a baggie of orange slices in my lunch box every single day. And every single day, I tried desperately to trade them away. There were rarely any takers - how can orange slices compete with Gushers? Or Lunchables? Now that I'm older and wiser (yes, take a moment and laugh), I can appreciate oranges' sweet juicy goodness - most often at the end of a race. Those big boxes of orange slices you see for the competitors at the end of a 5K? OMG yes please!

But sometimes I prefer my orange slices in cake form.
I planned this cake a yoga class (meditation has never been my strong point). I was feeling the need for an opulent orb of orange goodness - and I have to say, I was more than impressed with the results!

I adapted the recipe from
Baking Bites, but made just one small change. Instead of mixing in the eggs, I separated them and beat the egg whites to stiff peaks before folding them to the rest of the batter. This makes the cake lighter (I think. I would try it the original way and compare, but why mess with something so good!)

And the cake part of this cake is one of the BEST cakes I've made. No joke. I want to try this recipe with lemon, with grapefruit...with...well, that's all I can think of...feel free to share any other ideas!

The only "bad" part of this cake was the frosting. It was a disaster. Because the problem with oranges is that they're really sweet.
 (Well, that's not a problem, but in the context of frosting it can be). My frosting had orange juice and zest, but the ending result was a super-sugary-orange-flavored paste. Too much. I'm not even going to tell you about it.
So instead, I recommend you make a cream cheese frosting, with just a half-teaspoon of orange zest, and orange juice instead of vanilla.

Cake Ingredients:
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 tbsp orange zest (about 2 oranges)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk (any kind)
1/2 cup orange juice (fresh, if possible)

1. Heat oven to 350F and lightly grease a 13×9-inch baking pan (pyrex or metal), or 2 9-inch round pans, or cupcake pans (the recipe yields about 32 small cupcakes).
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
4. Separate the eggs. Add egg yolks to the butter and sugar.
5. Combine orange zest, vanilla, milk and orange juice in a measuring cup. Add flour mixture alternately with orange juice mixture to butter mixture in the large mixing bowl, beating well after each addition and ending with an addition of flour.
6. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.7. Fold beaten egg whites into the rest of the batter.8. Pour batter into pans. Bake 13x9-inch cake 45 to 55 minutes, round cakes about 35 minutes, cupcakes about 20 minutes - or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting or freezing.

I made one 9-inch cake, which I cut in half to make a 2-layer cake. And then I made 16 cute little cupcakes to bring to work. 
So if you're looking for some way to perk up your day/week/life - make an Orange Cake and spread the slices of happiness!