When the weather is still cold and there’s not much out there in terms of fresh fruit, I love to reach for citrus. This cake is reminiscent of Tish’s Fresh-Squeezed Orange Layer Cake but a bit simpler. I went with an American-style buttercream and skipped the soaking syrup, but it’s got a nice burst of orange flavor nonetheless. The key to the buttercream is reducing the orange juice to concentrate the flavor, which I recommend doing while the cakes are cooling. I made little oranges out of modeling chocolate for the outside but decorate as you wish!

Makes one 8-inch cake


Orange Cake

  • 16 tablespoons (227 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (396 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs (200 grams)
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 3 cups (342 grams) cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (240 grams) orange juice

Orange Buttercream

  • 1 ½ cups (360 grams) orange juice
  • 24 tablespoons (338 grams) unsalted buttercream, softened
  • 3 cups (345 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt


Make the Cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° Grease and flour three 8-inch cake pans and set aside.
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and orange zest to incorporate.
  1. Add the eggs one at a time to the mixture, beat on medium until incorporated before adding the next. Then drizzle in the milk.
  1. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and then alternate adding with the orange juice in 3 batches, scraping down the bowl as needed.
  1. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Place on wire racks to cool completely before turning out and continuing.

Make the Buttercream:

  1. Add the orange juice to a saucepan and simmer over medium heat until it is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. You should have ¾ cup of juice in total when complete. Cool completely in the refrigerator.
  1. In a bowl fitted for an electric mixer, add the butter and sift the confectioners’ sugar on top. Using the paddle attachment, mix on low until combined.
  1. Add the vanilla extract, salt, and reduced orange juice, turn the speed up to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Use immediately.

Assemble the Cake:

  1. Level the cakes, fill and frost the outside, and decorate as desired. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve, allowing for time to come back to room temperature. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


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AnnMarie Mattila
AnnMarie Mattilahttps://pastryathome.com
AnnMarie Mattila is a writer for Pastry Arts Magazine, as well as a freelance baker and pastry chef in New York. She has a master’s degree in Food Studies from New York University and is also a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education.

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