I make this cake every year for a holiday meal. This year it was for Thanksgiving but more often it’s for Christmas Day. The flavors are just fantastic and it is so beautiful. The combination of the orange flavored cake, the brown sugar/cream cheese frosting and the cranberry sauce make a spectacular presentation for this amazingly delicious cake that is so perfect for the season.
I’ve been a single parent since my children were very young and I like to think I know them pretty well; their likes and dislikes. So no one was more surprised than me when I told my youngest daughter Lauren this past Wednesday before Thanksgiving that I was concerned about getting everything done. I had neighborhood teens in the house Wednesday to help with some cleaning and I found that my need to direct them took me away from baking and I hadn’t accomplished all that I had hoped. She asked what I needed yet to do and when among the list I mentioned pumpkin pie, she asked, “Why? We don’t need pie, I LOVE that cake you’ve made.” Seriously? She doesn’t like cranberry sauce but loves this cake? I never knew…but what a relief to know that instead of disappointing her I was doing exactly what she preferred. Whew!
I’ve been making and decorating cakes for my family since before I had children. The most elaborate one ever was a Blue Selectric Typewriter cake for my husband’s secretary and I’ve done one each year for each girls birthday. Bubble gum machines, ballerinas, music notes…whatever they were into at the time I tried to make a cake that represented them for each birthday. Now it seems easier because there are no shapes to cut or forms to build but I’ve struggled with wanting them to look just a bit more finished; I can never seem to get that icing on the outside edge smooth as, well, you know.
I’ve seriously enjoyed the work of Gail Dosik, a friend I met on Twitter (OneToughCookieNYC.com). Gail makes simple and extraordinarily clean finished cakes which she then decorates with fabulous cookies.
Pictured is a thank you cookie Gail made for Abby Dodge to send to friends on Twitter who have been supportive of her new book, Desserts 4 Today! Abby is such fun and I enjoyed featuring a recipe from her book so I was a lucky recipient and I can attest to them not being just another pretty face; so good too!
Though I’ve mostly associated Gail with cookies, when I saw photos of one of her finished cakes, I was envious of the perfectly smooth surface she achieved on her cake sides. At her suggestion, I purchased a plastic bowl scraper to use for the process of smoothing that edge. Sadly, it wasn’t here on Thanksgiving Day when I finished this cake and my metal dough scraper didn’t quite do the trick but hoping you will have seen the last of those evident lines of frosting…oh the horror! Sorry Gail.
The frosting quantity has been modified from the original recipe to allow me enough to pipe some finishing details on the bottom and top so if you choose not to do that; you will have some leftover frosting. But…I promise you, it’s equally fabulous on a simple graham cracker. I know this for a fact!
Cranberry Glazed Orange Layer Cake
1 hr 15 mins
- 3 cups sifted cake flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
- 6 large eggs, separated
- 2 teaspoons grated orange peel
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons orange extract
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 1 12-ounce package fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel
Brown Sugar Frosting
- 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup butter, room temperature
- 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons orange liqueur (Substitute 2 Tbsp orange juice concentrate if desired)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Combine cranberries and sugar in processor. Using on/off turns, coarsely chop cranberries.
- Transfer mixture to heavy medium saucepan. Add 1 cup water and orange peel and bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat; simmer until mixture is reduced to 2 1/3 cups, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
- Cool to room temperature.
- Cover; chill overnight or up to 2 days (mixture will thicken).
Brown Sugar Frosting
- Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until fluffy.
- Add brown sugar; beat until well blended. Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup (scant) at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Beat in orange liqueur or orange juice concentrate and vanilla.
- Chill until firm enough to spread, about 30 minutes.
- Makes about 4 cups.
Cake Instructions and Finished Product
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides.
- Sift flour, baking powder and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until creamy. Gradually add sugar; beat until light and fluffy, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Add egg yolks 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Beat in orange peel, vanilla extract and orange extract.
- Whisk milk and yogurt in small bowl to blend.
- Add dry ingredients to yolk mixture in 3 additions alternately with milk mixture in 2 additions, beating well after each addition.
- Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another large bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/3 of whites into batter, then fold in remaining whites.
- Divide batter between pans. Smooth tops. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes.
- Cool cakes in pans on rack 15 minutes. Run small knife around sides of pans to loosen cakes. Turn cakes out onto racks and cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap in plastic and store at room temperature.
- Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on platter. Spread top of cake with 3/4 cup Creamy Brown Sugar Frosting. Spread 1 cup Cranberry Glaze over frosting, leaving 1/2-inch border all around cake.
- Top with second cake layer, flat side down; press slightly to adhere. Spread 2 cups frosting over sides of cake
- Spoon remaining frosting into pastry bag fitted with medium-size star tip. Pipe decorative border around top and bottom edges of cake. Refrigerate until frosting is firm, about 1 hour.
- Spread remaining Cranberry Glaze over top center of cake. Chill until glaze is set. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate.)
Adapted from original recipe in Bon Appetit Magazine