My Goodbye to Summer 2020 Cake, a wonderfully fragrant Orange Cream Cake inspired by the orange push-ups I enjoyed as a child (read more about it here), might seem intimidating on the surface, but by breaking down the whole into components, many of which can be made days in advance, this cake is achievable even by the novice baker.
This cake starts with a moist yellow cake, and thanks to the investigative efforts of The Pancake Princess, I took the Diva’s Can Cook Classic Yellow Cake recipe for a test run. Every bit as tasty as promised and easy to make, these cake layers held up well to slicing, filling and stacking. Find the recipe here and The Pancake Princess’s exhaustive rundown (in the best way possible) of the best yellow cake recipes here.
I baked three 6-inch layers (which can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator 3-5 days or in the freezer up to 3 months), cutting each one in half horizontally, for a total of six layers of cake. Mandarin Syrup soaked each layer, which were then filled alternately with Mandarin Curd and Orange Blossom Swiss Meringue Buttercream. To stabilize the cake, make sure to pipe a “dam” of the Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream around the edge of each layer, adding the curd or Orange Blossom Swiss Meringue Buttercream inside the “dam” (see the following image). Finally, I slathered the entire cake with Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream–my favorite recipe, from Sweetapolita, can be found here.
The easiest place to start is with the Mandarin Curd which can be made a few days in advance. I had great success using Veena Azmanov’s No-Fail Orange Curd recipe (found here), but I chose instead to use a few perfectly ripe mandarins, changing the method slightly in the process. Instead of using a double boiler, I like to live on the wild side and cook the curd over direct heat. Stirring constantly is a must unless you want to end up with sweet, citrusy scrambled eggs. If you are more patient than I am, use the double boiler for added security.
3 large egg yolks
1 whole large egg
1/2 cup (100 g) fine sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 tablespoon mandarin zest
1/2 tablespoon lemon zest
3/4 cup (180 ml) mandarin juice
4 tablespoons lemon juice
4 oz (113 g) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
1/4 teaspoon salt
***When making a curd, it is especially important to have all of your ingredients weighed, cut, measured out, ready to go. Curd can curdle so quickly, even if you stop stirring for just a minute to cut up the butter!
- In a medium saucepan, off the heat, whisk egg yolks, egg, sugar, cornstarch and zests until lighter in color and fluffy.
- Whisk in the juices.
- Over medium heat, constantly stir or whisk the mixture, making sure to cover the entire surface of the bottom of the saucepan, until very thick (about 8 minutes). Remove from heat, whisking in a few pieces of cold butter at a time until all incorporated.
- Strain the curd through a fine mesh sieve to remove the zest. Store in the refrigerator.
- When ready to fill cakes with mandarin curd, remove from refrigerator and whisk vigorously to loosen the curd.
This syrup adds moisture and flavor to the cake layers. Simply brush the top of each cake layer with the syrup after it has been stacked and before the filling is added.
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
One long piece of Mandarin zest
Place all ingredients in a small saucepan, heating on medium, stirring occasionally until the sugar is melted. Remove from heat and allow the zest to steep in the syrup until cool. Discard the zest.
Orange Blossom Swiss Meringue Buttercream
1 1/2 cups Swiss Meringue Buttercream
1/2 teaspoon Orange Flower Water
Mix together completely. Give it a taste—if you want a more pronounced flavor, add more flavoring, one drop at a time. I chose to add a small amount of orange coloring to complement the finished cake’s floral buttercream decorations.
To learn more about Why I Baked A Cake, visit my instagram @whyibakedacake.