Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bright, Brilliant Flavors: Citrus Cake

Last night at WiNKS, my local knitting group, we were asked to list which cake we loved most for our personal birthday celebrations. The list included, no surprise, many that simply said "chocolate anything!". And while I love chocolate cake (obviously, since it's part of the title of the blog), my favorite cake for my March birthday is Citrus Cake. It's luscious orange and lemon notes are perfect just when the weather can't get much worse and the days more dreary. It's bright flavors and cheery color are the perfect antidote to winter and more pedestrian cakes. This is one cake that benefits from being made a day in advance. Overnight, the orange and lemon juices and zests work their magic to infuse the cake so that it bursts with brilliant flavor.

Amazingly, I have never put it here on the blog! So it's time to remedy that.


Grease and flour 2 9" round cake pans; set aside.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temp
4 eggs
the zests of 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour ~or~ 2 3/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsps. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk

Cream butter and sugar in large mixing bowl on medium low speed. Add eggs one at a time; beat well until blended in. Add the zests of the lemon and orange, stirring to blend. Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl, and add alternately with the buttermilk, mixing well. Pour into prepared pans, and bake on a lower middle rack of the oven at 350 degrees for 30 - 35 minutes, just until a wooden pick inserted in the center is clean. After removing from oven, run a knife around the edges of the cake layers, and prick the layers with a fork all over. Immediately pour the Infusion Glaze over the layers. Cool for 5 minutes, then turn cakes out of pans onto waxed paper and allow to cool completely. Frost top, sides and middle with Citrus Buttercream Frosting. Best if flavors can marry overnight, but don't feel bad if you just can't wait. (Confession: I usually can't wait!)

Infusion Glaze:
juice of 1 LARGE lemon
juice of 1 LARGE orange
1 cup sugar
a smidge of salt

Combine juices in a small saucepan over medium low heat and bring almost to a boil; add sugar and salt, and stir well just until sugar disappears into the juices. Remove from heat. Refer to recipe for use, which is immediately after cake comes from the oven.

Citrus Buttercream Frosting
zest and juice of 1 large lemon and 1 large orange
1 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp. salt
10X (confectioners) sugar - (4 to 5 cups)

Zest the lemon and orange, then juice them; set aside. In large mixing bowl, cream butter and  salt, beating at medium speed until very light and fluffy. Add 2 cups of 10X sugar and beat for several minutes. Slowly add the juices and zest, and beat with additional confectioners sugar until the consistency is right for frosting and filling the cake, which is usually  2 to 3 more cups of the 10X sugar. Beat three to five additional minutes  after reaching desired consistency.   Place a cake layer, glazed side up, on a cake plate and use 1 1/2 cups or so of the frosting to fill the cake. Place the other cake layer, glazed side down, over the frosting and frost the cake sides and top, swirling the frosting into lavish curls. If possible, keep in a cake safe overnight. If you just can't wait, enjoy!

Makes 10 to 12 generous slices.

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