Orange Checkerboard Cake

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Would you look at that? It’s the end of May. And that means, that 1) temperatures are starting to heat up, and 2) it’s my mother’s birthday. As usual, I was tasked with making the birthday cake. So, naturally, I was going to pick something that I liked…er, I mean, something that mom likes. I thought it would be nice to make a fruity and light cake, since it is beginning to feel like summer. I’ve also been obsessed with checkerboard cakes. Although oranges aren’t quite in season, I remembered that I had one more in the refrigerator and how well the orange chocolate cupcake were from a few months ago, and decided to adapt that recipe.

I’ve now made the checkerboard cake a few times, and I have definitely improved every time (there is less yelling at the cake to tell it to hold together 🙂 ). You can either use a special pan that has dividers and pour the batter, alternating the batter. However, I like to make two separate cakes, and then cut the cakes into rings to alternate it. You use frosting to glue the cakes together, giving it a clean look.

I love baking because it’s truly the intersection of art and science. I still have yet to invest in cookie cutter rings, where you can simply press down to create the rings. Instead, I’m sticking to a homemade engineered way of using a ruler anchored down by a straw as a protractor and cutting around in a circle. The key is patience and a steady hand. That, and well, ensuring that your cake has completely cooled and settled; otherwise, every cut will end in a crumbly mess on the ground with ants invading. Ok, sorry, that escalated quickly. Moving on…

My mom said that she enjoyed this cake, as it wasn’t too sweet. Of course, you can always add more sugar to your tasting. She liked that I used orange juice in the frosting instead of cream and vanilla. This gave the cake a more natural taste instead of an orange creamsicle flavor (which sounds tasty nonetheless). I really don’t like to use food coloring and opted out of adding it to the orange frosting. The only added color was to the lettering ‘Happy birthday mama,’ which I used a dash of grenadine.

Happy baking!

Xoxo,
JJC

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Recipe

Making the Cakes

Ingredients for 1 9-inch vanilla cake
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs

Ingredients for 1 9-inch chocolate cake
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup of buttermilk
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of butter (1 stick), room temperature
3/4 cup of sugar
2 eggs

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt (plus cocoa powder for the chocolate cake)
2. In a measuring cup, combine the buttermilk and vanilla extract.
3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
4. Add the eggs to the mixture one at a time.
5. Add the flour mixture and the liquids alternately, beating well after each addition. Consistency should be similar to a pudding.
6. Spray two 9 inch cake pans with cooking spray and pour in the batter
7. Bake the cakes at 350F for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

*Let cakes stand until cool, at least 2 hours*

When the cakes are nearly cool, make the frosting. I made 2 frostings–vanilla and orange. I used the vanilla as the ‘glue,’ and frosted the outside using the orange.

Vanilla Frosting
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup cream
3-4 cups confectioner’s sugar

Orange Frosting
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 teaspoon orange extract
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3-4 cups confectioner’s sugar

1. Whip the butter until it is light and fluffy.
2. Mix in the liquids and confectioner’s sugar until it is at a desired consistency.

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Construction of the Cake
1. Using cookie cutters, create rings in the cake.
2. Take the outer ring, and frost the inside of that ring.
3. Take the second smallest ring of the other flavor, and insert it into the first ring.
4. Continue until you are at the center.
5. Frost the top of the first cake.
6. Repeat to create the second layer of the cake.
7. Put the second layer on top of the frosted layer.
8. Frost the outside of the cake and decorate!

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Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

Orange Chocolate Cupcake

Greetings! Two posts in two days? Yup! I need to somehow make up for not posting in nearly a year. That, or it might be the dreary February weather of New England. Three storms, including two blizzards, 4+ feet of snow, and more on the way. I’ll be staying in, baking tons of desserts, and blogging about them.

I spent the morning thinking of what flavor I should try next and what I had in my pantry. One thing that I love is Terry’s Chocolate Oranges. So, why not try a chocolate orange cupcake? I absolutely loved this recipe and wish I could continue eating all of the cake I made without feeling guilty of half a dozen cupcakes (I halved the recipe listed below). This recipe is not that much different from a normal chocolate cake recipe, but the added coffee and orange extract made it 1000 times better than “plain” chocolate cake. Adding the coffee is optional, but I prefer a darker tasting chocolate.

The only challenge with this recipe was the frosting. The frosting that I made was an orange vanilla buttercream. Orange extract by itself does not smell, let alone taste, that great. When mixing it with vanilla extract, the frosting begins to smell like an artificial orange creamsicle. Spoiler alert: I added a few teaspoons of freshly squeezed orange juice, which helped eliminate the creamsicle taste.

Without further ado, here’s the recipe!

Happy baking!
–JJC

RECIPE

Cake
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange extract
1 tablespoon brewed coffee
1 cup sugar
½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
2 eggs

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
2. In a measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, vanilla extract, orange extract, and coffee.
3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
4. Add the eggs to the mixture one at a time.
5. Add the flour mixture and the liquids alternately, beating well after each addition. Consistency should be similar to a pudding.
6. Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full.
7. Bake at 325F for about 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Batter

Frosting
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1½ stick)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon orange extract
¼ cup milk/cream
3-4 cups confectioner’s sugar
A dash of fresh orange juice

1. Whip the butter until it is light and fluffy.
2. Mix in the liquids and confectioner’s sugar until it is at a desired consistency.
3. Frost cupcakes and decorate.
4. Enjoy!

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