Patriotic orange vanilla cake
My oldest daughter's birthday is on July 3rd and this year she celebrated a milestone by turning 10. When she was little she used to think that the 4th of July fireworks were for her birthday and honestly, I didn't have the heart to tell her otherwise. She did figure it out though as she grew older. I don't dabble much in cake making because, although I do bake I do not have real high baking skills. But, this year for her birthday I thought I would try my hand at making her an honest to goodness birthday layer cake with a little nod to the celebration of our Independence Day. And, for not being a baker per se, I thought my cake turned out pretty good.
For the cake*
2 sticks organic butter, room temperature
2 C organic granulated sugar
3 C organic, all purpose flour, plus more for prepping the pans
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract or the seeds of 2 vanilla beens
1 C buttermilk, room temperature
1 tbsp orange zest
2 tbsp orange juice
1/4 to 1/2 tsp gell red food coloring
1/4 to 1/2 tsp gell blue food coloring
*the butter, eggs and buttermilk must be at room temperature. You can leave the eggs and butter on the counter overnight and take the buttermilk out of the refrigerator at least 2 hours before making the cake
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using a pastry brush or your fingers, butter two (2) 8 inch round cake pans all around the inside and up the sides. Cut two 8 inch parchment paper rounds and fit them into the bottom of the buttered pans. Butter the pans again on the bottom on top of the paper rounds. Flour the pans by adding about 1 tbsp of flour to each pan and rolling it around so that the whole pan is floured. Tap out the excess flour. Set the pans aside. In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Add the vanilla extract or seeds along with the orange juice to the buttermilk in a measuring cup. Set aside. Add the room temperature butter and sugar to the bowl of a Kitchenaid stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the butter and sugar on med-high speed until completely incorporated and pale yellow in color. Reduce the speed to med-low and add the eggs to the butter-sugar mixture one at the time, waiting for each egg to be completely incorporated in the batter before adding the next one. Add the orange zest and mix in. With the mixer on low, start adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture to the batter in 5 additions, starting and ending with the flour. You should add flour 3 times and buttermilk twice. Mix the batter until well incorporated but do not over mix. Take the mixing bowl off the stand and using a spatula, mix the batter by hand a few times to make sure that the batter on the bottom of the bowl is well incorporated with the rest. Pour half of the batter into a different bowl. Add the red food coloring to the batter in this bowl and blue to the batter left in the mixing bowl. Mix well with a spatula until the color is distributed evenly throughout the whole batter. Use as much or as little food coloring as you desire. Pour the batters into the prepared cake pans and tap the pans on the counter a couple of times to bring any air bubbles to the surface and distribute the batter evenly into the pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes until a cake tester inserted in the middle of each pan comes out clean and the sides of the cakes begin to pull away from the pans. Take out of the oven then place the pans on a cooling rack. Allow the cakes to cool in the pan then take the cakes out and onto the cooling rack and allow them to cool completely.
For the frosting
5 large organic egg whites, room temperature
1 1/4 C granulated sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp orange juice
1/2 tsp salt
Add the egg whites, salt and juice to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Start breaking up the whites on low then beat on med-high speed until soft peaks form. At this point, turn the mixer on high and start adding the sugar in a steady stream until all the sugar is gone. Do not rush this process. Continue beating if necessary until the whites are shiny and have formed stiff peaks. Use immediately.
Assembling the cake
When the cakes are completely cooled, using a sharp serrated knife, gently remove some of the bowed top part of each cake to make them even and straight. Set those top pieces of cake aside. Using the same serrated knife, place it in the middle of one cake, on the side and, rotating the cake, slice it in half length wise. Be careful to keep the same spot in the middle of the cake as you rotate so that your cake halves are equal in thickness. Repeat with the 2nd cake. Take some parchment paper pieces and place them all around at the edge of a cake stand. Set the bottom part of the blue cake, baked side down, in the middle of the cake stand on top of those paper pieces. They will keep your cake stand clean when you frost the cake. Place a 1/2 C of the meringue frosting in the middle of the cake piece and using an offset spatula start spreading the frosting towards the edges of the cake in an even layer, rotating your stand. Leave about 1/4 inch margin, as the frosting will push outwards when the next piece of the cake is set on top. Take the top part of the red cake and set it on top of the frosted blue cake half, cut side up. Repeat the frosting process. Finish with the bottom part of the red cake, cut side down, so that the baked side faces upwards. Pour the rest of the frosting on top and with the same offset spatula gently push the frosting outwards and on the sides of the cake. Use the spatula to evenly frost the cake until completely covered, then use the spatula again with a touch and remove motion all over the cake to achieve the wavy look. This look is beautiful but also easy to do and the best to use if your cake is not perfectly even. Crumble the pieces of cake that you sliced off of the tops of the cakes, mix them together and decorate the top of the cake with them. Gently remove the parchment paper pieces you used to keep your stand clean. Cover the finished cake with the cake stand lid and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving. This was a very tasty and quite beautiful cake that my daughters and their friends throughly enjoyed eating. Pofta Buna!