Saturday, November 20, 2010

Orange Spice Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Orange overload! I've always liked oranges, but in cake form I knew I would love them more! It's been too long since I posted a baked dessert. And as always, I am inspired by the fruit of the season. I have no doubt that orange peel desserts started to stretch the precious treat that was an orange. Which makes me happy to enjoy this cake in a seasonal fashion. This is also my first spice cake. My mother never made them much, and if she did somehow spice cake doesn't sound as yummy as chocolate. But now that I am older, I have learned to enjoy cake in all its forms.

I am using once again, Small Batch Baking. A great cookbook with scaled down desserts. I love it because I don't have to bake a huge cake that I either eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner or that I end up throwing away because no one is around to help me eat it. The book advocates baking in the can method that I have talked about before (see carrot cake post here), but I normally do cupcakes to spread out the servings a little more. This time I did mini cupcakes because I wanted a cute bite sized treat that I could enjoy after meals this week.

I also think if you are planning a small Thanksgiving (family of 6 or less), that these would be perfect to make (in mini cupcake form), because everyone always "just wants a bite" of all the desserts. I think a small batch of something that gets eaten completely is better than bringing a whole cake that goes home half eaten. And it's always nice to run out and to hear people say "Oh I wish there were more." You know then, you've got yourself a winner.

Or if it's just gonna be two of you celebrating together. Go ahead and make the larger cupcakes or the mini layer cakes. The "spice" part reminds me of pumpkin pie, but the orange adds a refreshing flavor to the holiday. I've been enjoying these little bites for the last few days. I don't keep cake in my house, so these have been nice little treats.

Do you have any orangey or spicy desserts you are going to make these season? Please share in the comments section!

Orange Spice Cakes
(Makes two mini layer cakes)

4 tablespoon (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing cans
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted, plus more for flouring cans
1/4 cup buttermilk
Yolk of 1 large egg
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1/c cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
Orange Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)

Pans Required:
Two 14- or 14.5-ounce cans
1 baking sheet

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325F.

2. Lightly grease the insides of the cans and dust them with flour, tapping out the excess. Place the cans on a baking sheet for easier handling, and set aside.

3. Combine the buttermilk, egg yolk, and orange zest in small bowl and whisk to mix.

4. Place the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and ginger in a medium-sized mixing bowl and whisk to blend well. Add the butter and half of the buttermilk mixture. Beat with a hand-held electric mixer on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 45 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Pour in the remaining buttermilk mixture; then beat on medium speed for 20 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

5. Spoon the batter into prepared cans, dividing it evenly between them. Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.

6. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the cans to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Then run a thin, sharp knife around the edge of each can and invert them to release the cakes. Turn the cakes upright and let them cool completely on the rack.

7. To frost the cakes, cut each one in half horizontally. Spread a layer of the Orange Cream Cheese Frosting about 1/4 inch thick on the cute side of one cake half and then stack the other half on top of it. Frost the top and sides of the cake. Repeat with the remaining cake and frosting. (The cakes can be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated, covered. Let them return to room temperature before serving.)

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
(Makes 1 cup)

4 ounces cold cream cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon thawed frozen orange juice concentrate

Place the cream cheese and butter in a medium-size bowl and beat with a hand-held mixer on medium speed until blended, 20 seconds. Add the sugar, orange zest, and vanilla, and beat to mix. Then add the orange juice concentrate and beat until the frosting is fluffy, 1 minute. Use right away, or cover and let stand for up to 1 hour before using.

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