Fresh Friday: The Perfect Christmas Orange Cake

12.23.16

This is the cake to make for the holiday!!! Citrus is in season big time and not only do I love citrus but orange is so refreshing, and such a nice change from the heavy or earthy flavors normally associated with this time of year.  Every year in my stocking my parents give me that delicious chocolate orange that you slam on the counter and it breaks into segments.  The flavor of orange and chocolate together is heavenly, and I decided they’d go together perfectly in a Christmas Cake. Nothing makes me happier than being able to redo a recipe because it wasn’t quite what I wanted. I made this cake for my Christmas gathering and while everyone was kind enough to eat it, and really there was nothing particularly wrong with it my frosting was closer to whipped cream than buttercream, and not stiff enough to hold the layers on top very well.  That plus the fact I let my curd sit out a bit so it was room temperature and  less firm led to some epic weeping out the sides of my cake.  It was messy, I was frustrated, and I was going to be very sad if I couldn’t make it how I wanted.  But I found some time and did!!!! This time around it was perfect, and beautiful, if I may be so bold!!!! Adding the small adornments on top makes it the perfect centerpiece to your Christmas table.  Imagine tiny little people playing in your rosemary sprig forest throwing confectioner sugar snowballs!  PRECIOUS!!!!!

 

Orange and Chocolate Cake
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For the Orange Curd
  1. 1 cup sugar
  2. 1/4 cup cornstarch
  3. 2 cups orange juice
  4. 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  5. 1/4 cup butter
For the Cake
  1. 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  2. 2 cups flour
  3. 2 tsp baking powder
  4. 1 tsp salt
  5. 1 1/2 cup sugar
  6. 3 eggs
  7. 1 cup buttermilk
  8. 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  9. zest from 2 oranges
For the Chocolate Buttercream
  1. 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  2. 1 1lb box of confectioners sugar
  3. 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  4. 2 tsp vailla extract
  5. 1-3 tbsp whole milk
For Garnish
  1. Three sprigs of rosemary
  2. A pinch of confectioners sugar
For the Orange Curd
  1. In a medium saucepan whisk together sugar, cornstarch and orange juice
  2. Whisk in beaten eggs
  3. Over medium-high heat bring to a boil, whisk constantly
  4. Once boiling and thickened, turn heat down to low-medium and whisk another 1-2 minutes tops, then immediately remove from heat
  5. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes, place plastic wrap directly on top of curd and place in fridge to fully cool. Use immediately, or pour into airtight container and keep chilled.
For the Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and flour and grease three 6" cake pans
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together, flour, baking powder, and salt, set aside
  3. In the bowl of a stand up mixer beat butter until fluffy, about 3 minutes
  4. Slowly pour in sugar and allow to combine
  5. Add in eggs one at a time, then slowly pour in buttermilk on low speed
  6. Staying on low speed add in dry ingredients 1/2 cup at a time until all is added in, scrape down sides of the bowl
  7. Add in vanilla and orange zest and allow to just combine where zest is evenly distributed
  8. Pour out batter evenly between the three cake pans and bake for 27-30 minutes and cake tester comes out of the center clean
  9. Allow to cool about 10 minutes in the pan, then invert and allow to finish cooling on wire rack
For the Buttercream
  1. Sift all of cocoa powder and confectioners sugar into the bowl of a stand up mixer
  2. Using a paddle attachment mix the dry ingredients on low speed
  3. Slice up butter and add in a little at a time, allowing it to just combine before adding the next
  4. Add vanilla extract
  5. Add in milk 1 tablespoon at a time until correct consistency is reached, in high humidity less milk will be needed
For Assembly
  1. Place a small dollop of buttercream in the center of your cake stand to secure first cake layer
  2. Place first layer right side up (slicing off the top if domed, and doing the same with each layer) for an even surface
  3. Spoon orange curd in the center of the cake, it's helpful if it's chilled so it's a bit firmer
  4. Pipe frosting around curd and continue to pipe all the way to the edge of the layer
  5. Add the second cake layer and repeat curd and frosting steps
  6. Add third layer upside down for an even top surface
  7. Pipe frosting around the outside and with a straight edge scrape excess frosting off to create a crumb coat
  8. Chill for 10-15 minutes
  9. Continue frosting until cake is covered, scrape as necessary for an even surface
  10. Trim three rosemary springs and place in the top of cake where desired
  11. Sprinkle with fingers, or using a sifter, a bit of confectioners sugar over rosemary for "snow"
  12. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. *Curd can easily be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
  2. *Cake layers can also be made one or two days ahead of time, as long as they're wrapped tightly in plastic wrap after they've cooled
Domestic B(i)atch http://domesticbatch.com/

Also it’s going to be super easy for everyone to know when I take night pictures, because I’ve figured out how to make lovely bright pictures with artificial lighting and white reflectors.  To be honest, a lot of the occasional stress comes from the fact that trying to find time during natural daylight can be tricky, especially during winter.  If I work during the day I can easily not get home til almost 5. During December, daylight starts to dwindle by 4:30. I’ve been waking up early before heading to work in the morning to snap pictures, but it leaves me pretty beat by the end of the day. Seeing that I can make pictures that I find acceptable lifted such a weight off me I couldn’t stop talking about it to the Hubs. I’m sure he was over it the first time I said it, but I definitely kept talking about it.  I’ll continue to play around with the lighting, styling food in it and such to make sure quality doesn’t suffer for lack of sunshine. But it’s exciting right???

I adapted the curd from here.
I adapted the buttercream from here.

I’ve learned that if you find a buttercream that tells you to add all your liquid (milk, heavy cream, buttermilk) at once, BEWARE!!!! You never know how weather and your home will affect your baking.  Always add it in a little at the time, and give it a bit of time to make sure it’s all mixed in before deciding if it needs more or not. This was my mistake the first go-round.  Adding in 1/3 cup milk all at once was insane, and I knew deep in my heart it was wrong but went for it anyway.  (Especially because it claimed to be the “best” buttercream. Beware of these titles too.) I got what I deserved and figured I’d deal with it this time, but I had to remake it later. The second time was the charm.

Merry Merry Christmas! (or Happy Happy Hanukkah!) I hope your Sunday is filled with as many loved ones as you can stand, some good laughs, this cake, and a little booze. This season is truly about enjoying the time spent with those that mean the most.  Don’t forget that, I know I do sometimes.   I cannot wait to wake up on Christmas and kiss the Hubs and know our only task that day is to enjoy each other. I’ll throw a little countdown your way next week with some of my favorite recipes from the year. 

Ps. My husband and a few friends and I have a Christmas band called The Sugar Plums! We cover a few Christmas songs every year and put them online to listen to and download for free! You can listen to this year, and the past four years here

 

We all deserve a little treat.....share!
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