Monday, May 30, 2011

Orange Velvet Cake

Orange Velvet Cake - made May 28, 2011 from A Piece of Cake by Susan G. Purdy

As I'm now (I think) at least a dozen cookbooks past the halfway point for my baking challenge (finally!), I'm starting to get into cookbooks I've either never used, rarely use, or haven't used in a long time.  Which always begs the question, why do I still have it/them??  Not a new question.  But no matter, we slog forward anyway.  This is an old book and I have no memory of when and where I bought it or why but I must've been on either a cake kick or a Susan G. Purdy kick since I have multiple cake books and several cookbooks by Susan G. Purdy.  I've hardly made anything from this cookbook so I can't assess (yet) how good it is or not.

I still have oranges from my mom's orange tree to use up and there are many more oranges left on her tree so this was a good time to try out orange recipes.  My earliest memory of orange cake was in the 4th grade when a friend was bringing a sheet cake of orange cake with frosting to share with her class.  She gave me a sneak preview taste in the morning while we waited for the bus and to my childish taste buds, that was the best cake ever.  In retrospect, it was probably some kind of boxed cake mix with canned vanilla frosting but to my 9-year-old bad self, it was divine.  I've gotten infinitely more finicky about baked goods since then but I still have a soft spot for orange cake to this day.  Not orange pound cake (although I like that too) but cakey orange cake, like cake with the tender texture of a boxed cake mix but with the fresher (and better) taste of real oranges.  So I was both anxious and hopeful for this cake to turn out.

I don't think I baked this cake as long as I should have.  The texture was a bit dense so it was more pound-cake like (though not as heavy as a pound cake) rather than cakey-like.  The glaze or soaking syrup moistens the cake and makes the texture more dense so it wouldn't hurt to bake this cake for the full amount of time.  Nevertheless, I thought it turned out pretty well.  I only made a half recipe so it only came out to one layer which makes for a pretty flat cake.  But since it wasn't a fluffy texture, it was fine.  You wouldn't want a dense, two-layer cake.  I liked the flavor and even the denser texture.  Fresh oranges make a big difference in providing a citrus-y flavor.  The glaze sets once it cools and it complements the cake nicely.

1 ½ cups sifted cake flour (5 ¼ ounces)
½ cup sifted cornstarch (2 ¼ ounces)
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, separated
½ teaspoon orange extract
Grated zest of 1 large orange
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice

½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Grated zest of 1 orange
1 tablespoon butter

Orange Buttercream
½ cup unsalted butter, softened but not melted
1 large egg yolk (optional)
Pinch of salt
Grated zest of ½ orange
4 to 4 ½ cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
5 to 6 tablespoons orange juice, or as needed

1.      Prepare 2 8- or 9-inch round cake pans: spread solid shortening on bottom and sides of pans then dust evenly with flour; tap out excess flour.  Preheat oven to 350⁰F.
2.      Sift together dry ingredients.  Set aside.
3.      In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and smooth.  Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition.  Beat in the orange extract and grated zest.  Alternately add to batter the flour mixture and orange juice, beginning and ending with flour.  Beat slowly to blend after each addition.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl often.
4.      In a clean bowl with a clean beater, beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry.  Stir about 1 cup of whites into the batter to lighten it, then gently fold in remaining whites.
5.      Turn batter into prepared pans.  Level the batter, then spread it slightly from the center toward the edges of the pan so it will rise evenly.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, and the top is golden and lightly springy to the touch.
6.      While the cake bakes, prepare the orange glaze.  Combine the ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, and stir to dissolve the sugar.  Set the glaze aside, but warm it just before using.
7.      When the cake is baked, set the pans to cool on a wire rack.  With a bamboo skewer or 2-tine roasting fork, prick holes over the cake.  With a pastry brush, paint the warm glaze all over the hot cake, wait a few minutes, and apply remaining glaze, dividing evenly between the two layers.
8.      Cool the cake completely, top with another rack, invert and lift off pan.  Fill and/or frost with Orange Buttercream.
To make Orange Buttercream:
1.      In an electric mixer or food processor, cream the butter until soft, then beat in the egg yolks, if using, the salt and grated zest.  With the mixer on low speed or pulsing the processor, add about ¼ cup of the sugar.  Beat smooth.  Alternately add the juice and remaining sugar, blending smooth between additions.  Scrape down sides of bowl.  Add more orange juice if too stiff.  Chill the icing to harden if too soft.



  1. I love orange cake! This looks delicious! Glad I found your blog!

  2. Wow! I think I need an occasion to bake this yummy cake. It looks so good.

  3. This looks absolutely wonderful! I'm a big fan of orange flavored desserts and this looks perfect with the orange buttercream. I'll definitely put this on my "to make" list. Thanks for sharing on A Well-Seasoned Life's Sweet Indulgences Sunday.