When the winter holidays start you want them to last forever. The festive atmosphere, the cozy blankets, the sweets and chocolate and all those days off when you can catch up on the favorite serials and shows, all day long snuggling under the warm comforter, with your loved on one side and the kittens on the other….I didn’t want all that to end or for January to come. It was like I was stuck in that moment and my fictional worries couldn’t touch me and the unpleasantries of reality were in a different universe. My days were filled with reading, playing games and watching movies, to afraid to start anything else that might take away the serenity and peace and through me back into a black hole of stress, fears and anxiety. I kept prolonging those days as much as I could, refusing to face anything.
I made this orange almonds cake a month ago, for our last meeting of the year, at work. Then I kept it hidden from the online world until now. Not one word. Not one photo…and that’s alright.. A cake this size, for two people (and 3 cats) is more than we can handle so there was no doubt about making one on this random occasion. I was excited for weeks at the thought of it and even made a test-cake before the actual thing. I really wanted some flavors that are X-masy, but would have the freshness of fruits, so straight away I knew I wanted to make a cake with oranges. The smell of the fruits invaded the whole house and later the office. Not to mention that it balanced the sweetness of the buttercream. There was time spent looking for ideas, testing the recipe and taking notes. Each cake kept me in the kitchen for roughly 5 hours (I take a lot of notes and do measurements to wright about it, but it will take you much less) and I was thrilled every second of the way. But then I just couldn’t get myself to sit down and put it into words. I’m not organized or systematic, but that’s alright. I’m more of a cook and less of a blogger. I’m more of a baker and less of a writer. And that’s alright also .
For the 2 cake layers (cut into 2 after baking)
10 eggs, at room temperature
1 and 3/4 cups (400g) granulated sugar
2 cups and ½ (350g) all purpose flour, sifted
2 cups (240g) almond meal (grounded blanched almonds)*
2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest (from 2 large oranges, divided)
4 teaspoons orange juice (squeeze the 2 oranges you just grated)
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 tablespoons vanilla sugar (32 grams ) (2 packs)
200g unsalted butter, melted
Food colors orange and purple (powder or gel)
juice from 1 orange
juice from 1 lemon
(plus the rest kept from the cake layers)
750 grams mascarpone
zest from 2 oranges (then cut the oranges into bite sizes, without the skin, as here)
3 tablespoons (40 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 cups (380 grams) powder sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 tablespoons (120 ml) heavy cream
pinch of salt
Food colors orange and purple (powder or gel)
For the 2 layer cakes
I prefer making the cake layers the day before so they can cool completely (otherwise it will be difficult to slice it and trim it or the cream might spoil from the heat)
You have to prepare 2 large bowls and 1 medium bowl
Divide the fallowing in each large bowl, to bake 2 separate cake layers:
1 and ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 cup (120 grams) ground blanched almonds
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 and ½ tablespoon vanilla sugar (16 grams ) (1 packs)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
In the medium bowl add :
all 10 eggs
all the sugar quantity (1 and 3/4 cups /400g)
4 tablespoon of orange juice (keep the rest of the juice refrigerated to use later to moist the cake)
- Cover 2 cake tins of 23 cm in diameter with a baking paper cut into circles of approximately the same diameter
- Preheat oven at 200 degrees Celsius.
- Once everything is divided in the 3 bowls, whisk the eggs, sugar and orange juice for about 18 minutes until thick, pale and it triples in size. It should be almost reaching the rim of the bowl. Start on medium speed then increase gradually to high speed. If you will use a hand mixer as I did, then have a book, phone, laptop whatever by your side to keep yourself entertained. The longer you mix it, the fluffier it will get as it will create a lot of bubbles of air, so be patient
- Divide the egg mixture equally in the two large bowls containing the flour. For me it was about 900ml of egg mixture per bowl. Add the food coloring** if you intend to use it and gently and slowly mix everything with the spatula until well combined. Avoid using a mixer as it will knock off all the air bubbles from the eggs mixture and it will be a flat cake layer.
- Pour each batter into the baking tins and place in the oven***. After 5 minutes reduce the temperature to 180 degrees and bake for about 40 minutes or until set to the touch. After 30 minutes you can switch the tins between each other so both bake on the lower then upper level of the oven.
- Let them cool completely (preferably overnight)
- In a medium size bowl whisk the mascarpone with the mixer, for about 1 minute, until light and fluffy. Add the lemon and orange zest, sugar and vanilla and whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Keep it in the fridge until ready to use.
- In a medium sized bowl whisk the butter for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and gradually add the powder sugar until the buttercream can form peaks but still has a creamy consistence. Divide it in 3 bowls and add a bit of the purple and orange food coloring.**
- Once the cake layers have cooled completely, trim the top of each layer to have a flat surface. About 1-2 mm, not too much. Then cut each layer horizontally into 2 layers (equal or not, as you prefer). I used a serrated knifed. Cover each cake layer with a flat plate of almost the same size and trim the edges. Be careful to keep the knife on a 90 degree angle with the plate. Put each cake layer over baking paper to easily maneuver. You can stack them one on top of the other. (see example here)
- On the cake stand spread a small dollop (about a tablespoon) of buttercream to secure the cake. Put one layer of cake, then pour about 4-5 tablespoon of syrup, covering the entire surface. Cover with a generous layer of mascarpone cream and spread a few pieces of orange. Repeat for the rest of the layers, ending with the cake layer.
- Using the buttercream, cover the top and sides of the cake with a light layer of buttercream to secure the crumbs. Chill it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- Cover the top of the cake with a generous layer of buttercream and gently spread it with a spatula or knife. Also over the edges. Warming up the spatula or knife, under hot water (and towel dried) will make the spreading easier.
- Once the top is covered, put dollops of the purple buttercream on the lower half of the cake and the orange buttercream on the top half. Using the spatula spread until the entire cake is evenly covered. (see video here)
- Decorate with sprinkles if desired.
*if you can’t find almond meal, but blanched almonds and grind in a blender or kitchen robot. Can also use unblanched almonds, but they cake will turn out somewhat brown and less intense colors.
**put just a bit, it only takes the tip of the spoon of powder or a few drops of a good quality food coloring. Add gradually untill you obtain the desired color.
*** I recommend baking them at the same time, not let the batter sit for too long as the air bubbles with disappear and the baking powder and baking soda will lose their baking potential
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