My Most Popular Recipe. For a Very Good Reason.
This cake is where my cooking blog journey began. I had made many many orange cakes throughout the years, but never had I made one that I felt was “it”. There was always something not quite right. I decided to come up with one myself, seeing as I was the only person who knew what I was trying to achieve.
First and foremost, I wanted it to be a simple cake, but good enough to be worthy of a celebration. And it had to be truly bursting with orange flavor. Thinking about my beloved chocolate buttermilk sheet cake, I thought why not try making an orange version? After several tries, I got exactly what I’d always dreamed my ideal orange cake should be.
It’s made in a half sheet pan and comes together quickly. You’ll notice I’ve called for an entire orange and half a lemon in the batter. Yep, that’s the whole orange – peel and all, minus the seeds. The same goes for the lemon. This packs a flavor punch that delivers a fully rounded flavor profile. The little bit of bitterness from the peel offsets the sweetness of the rest of the cake.
I call for adding a few tablespoons of buttermilk to the blender when pulverizing the orange and lemon, as it adds the liquid needed to enable the fruit to puree.
I then add even more buttermilk to the cake because it tenderizes the crumb and the tangy flavor is also welcome. It’s important to be careful and not over bake the cake. It only needs 18 to 20 minutes in the oven. Pull it out as soon as a toothpick comes out clean and it’s pulled away from the sides of the pan. In this way, you’re guaranteed a very moist cake.
The icing has more buttermilk, orange juice, lemon juice, melted butter and powdered sugar. I use a small amount of orange oil * in both the cake and the icing. It only serves to reinforce the orange flavor. I don’t recommend orange extract. The flavor isn’t good and tastes fake. The orange oil isn’t essential. The cake will still be delicious without it.
The cake is only cooled for 5 to 10 minutes and the second you’ve mixed the icing it needs to be poured onto the still warm cake. Some of the icing will melt into the cake which makes it even more delicious.
I chose to garnish the cake with slivers of candied orange peel, but again, this isn’t necessary. It just adds an extra hit of orange.
When I first put this recipe out there I could only hope that others would like it, too. As it turned out, many people made it and loved it as much as I did. This gave me the confidence to start developing more and more of my own original recipes. I was then lucky enough to have my cake recipe, along with two other original recipes featured in the Spring/Summer issue of Raised Southern Magazine . My blog was a natural progression and it has become one of the joys of my life. I love hearing from all of you and sharing what I’ve been cooking. I get the greatest pleasure when you let me know you’ve made one of my recipes and liked it. There’s nothing better. Please know I appreciate it enormously and thank each and every one of you.