My Recipe Box

Orange Layer Cake


Serves eight to ten.

This is my mother’s recipe, which I always requested (and got) for my birthday. I love to eat this cake with a cup of Earl Grey tea. Leave yourself plenty of time to frost the cake; it works best if filled and then refrigerated before frosting. Remember to zest your oranges before juicing.

For the filling:
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice (from about 3 large or 4 medium oranges), without pulp
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 Tbs. salted butter
For the cake:
  • 2-1/4 cups (101/8 oz.) all-purpose flour
  • 2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup salted butter
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 tsp. grated orange zest (from about 1 large orange)
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice (from about 3 large or 4 medium oranges), without pulp
For the frosting:
  • 6 oz. (12 Tbs. ) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 4-1/2 cups (about 18 oz.) confectioners’ sugar
  • Dash salt
  • 1 tsp. grated orange zest
  • 5 Tbs. fresh orange juice
For the garnish:
  • 1 or 2 small oranges, sliced thinly, slices cut halfway through on one side, laid on paper towels to drain
  • 7 or 8 sprigs fresh mint (pick pairs of leaves)

Make the filling: Combine the sugar and the flour in a heavy-based saucepan. Whisk just to mix. Add the orange juice and egg yolks and whisk vigorously again to combine. Put the saucepan over medium-high heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture boils (3 to 4 min.). Cook another 1 min., stirring constantly (the mixture will thicken noticeably and become less cloudy). Be sure it boils for 1 min. so that the filling will thicken enough to support the cake. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap (lay the wrap directly on the filling’s surface), and refrigerate. Chill thoroughly before using.

Make the cake: Heat the oven to 350°F. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Grease two 9x1-1/2-inch cake pans and line the bottom of each with a round of kitchen parchment. Lightly flour the sides and bottom of each pan.

In a mixer, cream together the butter, shortening, and zest. Gradually add the sugar, creaming until the mixture is light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between additions and scraping down the sides.

Add the sifted dry ingredients alternately with the orange juice to the creamed mixture, beating well on low speed after each addition. Pour equal amounts of the batter into the two prepared cake pans. Tap the pans on the counter before putting them in the oven to remove any air bubbles and to even the batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 28 min. Cool the cake layers in the pans for 10 min. and then loosen the layers by running a knife between the cake and the edge of the pan. Remove the layers from the pans and put them on a rack to continue cooling.

Make the frosting: Cream the butter in the mixer. Add the confectioners’ sugar and salt and combine thoroughly. Add the orange zest and mix to combine. Add the orange juice and mix on high speed until well blended, scraping down the sides. It will be light and creamy. Refrigerate if not using right away.

Assemble the cake: When all the components are cool, put one cake layer on a cake stand or a cardboard cake round. Spread the orange filling over the cake to make a 1/4-inch layer. You’ll have about 1/3 cup extra filling; serve it alongside the cake, if you like. Put the second layer on top of the first and refrigerate the cake until the filling has chilled again and firmed up, about 45 min.

Orange Layer Cake Recipe
Spread the filling.

Loosen the frosting by beating with a spatula (if it’s very stiff, beat it with an electric mixer). Using an icing spatula, spread just a very thin layer of frosting over the whole cake (this is called a “crumb coat” because it secures loose crumbs) and refrigerate the cake to let the frosting firm up, about 10 min. Put on the final coat of frosting, taking care to work gently, as the top layer of the cake tends to slide around ever so slightly because of the filling. If it slides, just push it back. Create a pattern on the frosting using the icing spatula (heat it up under warm water and dry it). Transfer the cake (on its cardboard or by lifting it with spatulas) to a cake plate or pedestal.

Orange Layer Cake Recipe Orange Layer Cake Recipe
Apply a thin layer of frosting with an icing spatula. Create a pattern on the final coat of frosting.

Garnish the cake: Twist the orange slices into “S” shapes and put seven or eight around the top of the cake. Tuck a pair of mint leaves into each orange twist.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on ten servings, Calories (kcal): 800, Fat (kcal): 32, Fat Calories (g): 290, Saturated Fat (g): 16, Protein (g): 6, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 10, Carbohydrates (mg): 125, Polyunsaturated Fat (mg): 3, Sodium (g): 610, Cholesterol (g): 165, Fiber (g): 1,

Photo: Ben Fink

I didn't use the icing recipe for this, but the cake and filling were very good. Not too sweet and very refreshing. You don't need nearly as many oranges as they recommend. 3-4 decent sized ones should get you 2c of juice.

This was delicious from the cake, to the ganache, to the frosting. However, it was super sweet. I actually reduced the sugar significantly. Instead of 1.5 cups I used 1 for the cake, instead of 4.5 cups for the frosting I used 1 and it was still terribly sweet. Maybe the oranges I used were extra sweet. I will make it again with less sugar in the ganache because it is a worthwhile recipe. With less sugar it is a solid 5 stars. Don't be intimidated by all of the steps it actually does not take that long to make the longest part of the process is waiting for the cake and ganache to cool!

Filling is so good

Can vegetable shortening be sustituted in this recipe?

With the time and effort Amazing and Refreshing!! My daughter asked for "orange cake" for her 4th birthday. We do NOT use anything artificial so it was a struggle to find a recipe that did relay on a commercial orange cake mix or orange jello. This cake was a delight to bake and had amazing flavor. I used fresh OJ for the cake itself but good quality store bought OJ for the curd and frosting. It has won a sleeve in my dessert recipe binder!


The cake cooked quicker than listed - glad I checked it before time.

Fabulously easy to make. The cake is light and refreshing. This is a new favorite in my home!!!! Thank you for posting!!!!

(a) as an orange cake, one of our most favorites (especially with a tad of Grand Marnier in the icing)! (b) DO NOT DO WHAT I DID YESTERDAY! I got the "brilliant" idea to swap lemon juice for the various orange juices,1:1. Icing was pleasantly tart (a tad of Limoncello subbed for some juice for good measure); curd was very, very tart; cake was like hockey pucks - far too much lemon juice; doubtless the acidity knocked out the baking powder. There's one for the "epic cake fail" files!

I made this cake for a special friend's birthday. It was very easy to make and tasted fabulous. I definitely recommend making the orange filling the evening before you bake the cake, and it will go together quickly. I found the recipe to make more than enough batter for 2- 8" rounds and did not need to double or even make half again as much as someone else mentioned. Maybe their baking powder wasn't fresh so the cake didn't rise. Mine was definitely much higher than the one pictured. The orange curd filling is fabulous and made enough to fill two layers, so if you wanted to split the layers into four, you could put a layer of buttercream frosting between the two curd filled layers and it would be beautiful and tasty. Will definitely make again. Do NOT scrimp and use store bought orange juice or dried orange rind in a jar. Definitely worth zesting and juicing the oranges. A major hit!

A delicious orangey combination. I've just made my second cake this week. This time I added some grated orange rind to the filling as I found it was a bit bland and not orangey enough on its own. Big improvement - this will become an essential part of the recipe from now on. I make the filling the night before, and the cake is easy and not too time consuming to bake and assemble the next day.

I made this for a special birthday and I decided the cake looked too short in the picture. I made 2x cake recipe baked in 3-8" pans, 2x curd filling and 1.5x frosting. Perfect proportions. I froze the cakes 1st and used bamboo skewers to support it. I spread the baking/assembling over 2 days. Every part of this cake is delicious on its own, and together, it becomes magnifient! 3 layers makes it heavy, so I will make it as-is one day. The possibilities for each component are endless!

Probably the best citrus cake I've ever tasted. It has plenty of orange flavour; and the cake crumb is tender and moist. While making this cake is definitely more time-consuming than using the ubiquitous Betty Crocker recipe, it is by no means an all-day project, and the results are worthwhile. :) I'll definitely be making this again!

We love this cake! Have made it many times because it's my husband's favorite birthday cake. (In fact, I am making it today for his 48th birthday.) It's a little involved but the more times you make it the easier it gets. I highly recommend this recipe.

I made this cake for my sister's birthday. Alway scary to take a new recipe to an event, but since it came from Fine Cooking...I tried it. The recipe was quite involved...allow an entire day to accomplish all the steps. The fresh squeezed OJ is the key to success. The cake was perfect! I think it will be the request every year for her birthday.

I always make this cake because it always turns out beautifully. It looks so nice with mint and sliced oranges as garnish.It is a wonderful birthday, mother's day,or any special occasion cake.

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