This is my penultimate post as part of the 2018-19 Abrams Dinner Party, but I'm not done with these cookbooks. I will keep cooking and baking from my favorites moving forward. The cake this recipe comes from is one of those that will serve as an endless source of inspiration.
When I first went through Icing on the Cake by Tessa Huff, I had marked the pink lemonade cake to try. But then I ran out of strawberries, and then I ran out of butter. And then I didn't pay enough attention to the strawberry mixture and burned it, and that was the last of them. So I had to put the ideas aside for a week. But I kept thinking about this cake that had salted honey and orange together and it just seemed so perfect for spring, and when a co-worker announced her resignation I knew it would be a good one to bring for the goodbye break.
As laid out in the cookbook, this cake would have three 6-inch layers, a salted honey custard, an orange cake, and a honey buttercream. I think I've said before that I don't have three 6-inch cake pans, nor would I have a cake holder that would fit a cake that high if I did. So I was adapting this recipe to two 9-inch layers. This mean I wasn't sure it was worth making the salted honey custard for just one layer, but I do think it would have been a nice textural and taste contrast to the other two parts. I also didn't do the flower petal icing technique on the outside that she shows, choosing instead to borrow the side technique from the cake I originally intended to make, and use the rest of the remnants of that to just put a few things on top. I will only include the parts below that I used.
I was worried about the sweetness of the buttercream, which seemed very sweet when I first made it. But I made this cake two days before the party, and the buttercream the night before, and apart from two separate 15-minute periods where I put the cake in the fridge to set it, I left it out at room temperature. By the time I tasted the final product around lunchtime the next day, it all was lovely and mellow, but you could still taste the honey and orange. This may be the perfect tea party cake, or Easter, or baby or bridal shower. I know I will be making it again.
Orange Honey Cake
(adapted from the Orange Salted Honey Cake in Icing on the Cake)
For the Orange Butter Cake:
2 1/4 cups (295 g) cake flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar
2 tbsp finely grated orange zest from about 2 large oranges
1/3 cup (80 ml) fresh orange juice
2/3 cup (160 ml) buttermilk
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks/170 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
For the Honey Buttercream:
4 large egg whites
2/3 cup (160 ml) honey
2/3 cup (135 g) granulated sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups (4 sticks/450 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Make the Orange Butter Cake
Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C). Grease and flour three 6-inch (15-cm) cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl.
In a small bowl, rub the orange zest and granulated sugar together between your fingertips until fragrant. In a separate bowl, stir together the orange juice and buttermilk.
In the bowl of a stand mixture with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the sugar-zest mixture and mix on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.
Turn the mixer to medium-low and add the vanilla. Add the eggs one a t time, mixing until each is incorporated before adding the next. Mix until combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.
Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. After the last streaks of the flour mixture are incorporated, mix on medium for no more than 30 seconds.
Evenly divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 25-28 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before removing from the pans. Allow the cakes to cool completely, right-side up, on the wire rack before removing the parchment. Level the tops of the cakes with a long serrated knife as needed.
Make the Honey Buttercream
Put the egg whites, honey, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Gently whisk them by hand until just combined. In a medium saucepan, bring an inch or two (2.5 to 5 cm) of water to a simmer over medium-low heat. Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double boiler (be sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water). Whisking intermittently, heat the egg white mixture until it reaches 160 F (70 C) on a candy thermometer.
Carefully affix the mixer bowl to the stand mixture (it may be hot) and fit the mixer with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg white mixture on high for 8-10 minutes, or until it holds medium-stiff peaks and the outside of the bowl has returned to room temperature.
Turn the mixer down to low and add the vanilla. Add the butter a couple of tablespoons at a time, mixing until each is incorporated before adding the next. Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment.
Turn the mixer to medium-high and beat until the buttercream is silky smooth, 3 to 5 minutes.
(Please see cookbook for assembly directions since I went rogue!)
Icing on the Cake came out April 2, 2019.
Inside you will find recipes for beautiful and decadent cakes, cupcakes, pies, tarts, and even two styles of macarons. When I have some days off I plan to come back to this one and maybe try macarons again. So far they have eluded me but her directions are so clear!