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Orange Layer Cake

Servings: 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)

Nutritional Information

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


  • 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 9×1-1/2-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.
    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.
    Apply a thin layer of frosting with an icing spatula.
  • 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.


Rate or Review

Reviews (21 reviews)

  • PoseyBones | 05/11/2020

    I've made this cake several times now. The first time, the icing was too soft and it looked somewhat messy. The second time, I did not follow the instructions to the letter and failed to boil the curd long enough thereby creating a sloppy runny mess when I added the second layer. That attempt went into the garbage. And then lastly, I made it for a friend and was able to correct mistakes and check for possible pitfalls. Some tips; use fresh squeezed orange juice that you juice yourself and make sure to taste for bitterness as you will want the flavor to be sweet and citrus-ey; add a teaspoon of baking powder to the icing to make it a bit more manageable; boil the curd until it is set so that it won't run off the sides; decorate with simple orange zest or orange sanding sugar instead of the fussy mess in the photo; and finally, this is a 'next level' recipe and is built to eat from the top to the bottom so that one gets all of the flavors in one bite. Serve the slice top side up and not lying on its side for best results. This last one was massively well received and might have won me a new boyfriend! Dive in and try this one, particularly if it's summer. Happy Baking!

  • user-33410 | 02/09/2020

    I’ve been making this cake since it first appeared in FC years ago. My tastes may have changed, but I may have to stop making it because it is so sweet! The icing overwhelms it. Next time I may make just the cake. Oh, and today, since it’s winter, I used basil leaves instead of mint to decorate the top. Worked fine.

  • hrmargesty | 07/19/2019

    This is a wonderful easy absolutely delicious cake. With one exception I followed the recipe exactly and the cake was perfect. The exception was that I used lemon curd (already in the refrigerator) for the filling. I used the frosting recipe and not only was it sumptuous it was more than enough for two 9 inch layers. I took this cake to a dinner party and more than one person had two slices for dessert.

    I will make this cake again. I plan to try a lemon cake version simply substituting lemon juice and zest for the orange components.

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