Blood Orange Spice Cake.
Not to mention the bourbon candied orange glaze or the fresh ginger in the cake itself–this thing is glorious in all of its fancy flavors. My favorite part though? It’s a naked cake, so once you get it into the cake box and on its journey to the lucky recipient, you need not worry about how it’s going to look after it’s bumped the sides of the box a few (hundred) times. That was always my least favorite part about traveling cakes–all the beauty could be ruined with a quick stop in the car or a trip over a crack in the sidewalk.
I had the idea for this cake because I love puns and what’s funnier than a blood orange my bloody valentine cake? It makes me think about the fact that you could make this cake after a breakup–and then listen to that Good Charlotte Album from 2002 or watch the 80’s slasher film and eat your feelings. You could also give it to your current valentine and just call it a spice cake. Regardless, it’s so delicious. I note below, but I’ll say it up here too, simply double the frosting recipe to have enough to ice the entire cake, but be aware that the cake will need a thin base layer before adding the final layer of frosting as it is a touch crumby. And watch out for cracks in the pavement.
Blood Orange Spice Cake
Adapted from Grand Central Bakery Cookbook
- 9 T (4.5 oz) Unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/4 c (8.75 oz) Light brown sugar, packed
- 1 1/2 c All purpose flour
- 3/4 t Baking powder
- 1/4 t Salt
- 1 1/2 t Cinnamon
- 1 T Ginger, minced
- 2 Eggs, room temperature
- 3/4 t Vanilla extract
- 1 c Sour cream, room temperature
- 1 1/2 T Blood orange zest
- 1-2 Blood oranges, thinly sliced
- 4 oz Blood orange juice (about 2 more blood oranges)
- 2 oz Bourbon
- 1/4 c Super fine sugar (or to taste)
- 2 T Water
- 6 oz Cream cheese, at room temperature
- 4 T Unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 c Confectioners’ sugar
- 1 T Maple sugar
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Start by creaming the butter and sugar at a high speed in a stand mixer. While that gets to work, combine all dry ingredients in a separate bowl. The sugar will not completely dissolve in the butter, but the mixture should be fluffy looking and still a bit sandy feeling between the fingers. Scrape the sides of the bowl repeatedly throughout the entire process. Lower the speed on the mixer and slowly add the eggs one at a time followed by the vanilla.
To incorporate the remaining ingredients, add the sour cream and dry ingredients, alternating 1/4 cup at a time, making sure to end with dry ingredients. Just after adding the last of the ingredients, stop the mixer and incorporate the remaining mix and zest using a stiff spatula.
in a 9 inch pan, line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the sides. Fill the pan with the cake batter. Slap the pan a few times on a large flat surface to pull air bubbles, and follow up with running a butter knive through the pan in a circle smoothly without lifting it up, 1 inch from the edge. This will allow the cake to rise evenly–my favorite tip from the cookbook so far! Bake for 40 minutes until golden brown–a toothpick should come out of the center of the cake mostly clean (1-2 crumbs is fine). Remove cake from the pan and cool in a rack for 40-50 minutes.
Cut the cake once it’s cooled–I do this by tracing my way around with a paring knife first, then slowly following the lines with a long knife (see the above shot). This cake is deliciously crumby, so a light cream cheese frosting is very important to avoid pulling the cake apart as you frost. Reserve half of the frosting for the top, and create a thin layer on the bottom half. Add more to the top of the thin layer until you’ve used up the first half of the frosting. Here you can either place the top on or, for fun, skip down to the next paragraph and cook down the oranges and stick them in the middle! No? Ok then, slowly place the top half of the cake on top of the frosted center and repeat a thin layer on the top of the cake. Top with the rest of the frosting and even out using a flat icing tool or a flat icing knife. One trick I enjoy is heating whatever flattening tool you have in hot water before using on the cake. This will keep frosting from sticking to the tool and you can reheat it very easily. I preferred to leave this cake relatively naked–if you would like enough frosting to do the whole cake, simply double the frosting recipe.
Topping the cake is mostly based on your personal taste. I enjoyed the idea of candying the blood oranges to make them easier to eat–the visual of them on top of the cake I also find quite striking. If you’d like to embark on the adventure, you’ll find that it’s easy. Line the bottom of a pan with the orange slices, and top with the bourbon, sugar, and water, dispersing it evenly. Cook on low heat down to a syrup, flipping the orange slices as you go to ensure they cook through. Cool and place on top of cake.
Transfer to a cake box and deliver it to your best friend or love. Enjoy this blood orange spice cake and have a happy Valentine’s Day!