In The Kitchen: Orange Cake

I posted a photo of this on Facebook after I baked it and several people requested the recipe. Easiest to put it here rather than there. I'm not sure where I found this recipe (I've had it for years). Gourmet, perhaps? Anyway: the original recipe identified it as St. Louis Orange Cake. At our house, it's known as Christmas cake, and as Bill's Favorite Cake. The great thing about this cake is that it's light. There's nothing heavy or rich about it, but it's bursting with flavor.

Orange Cake

The secret to that flavor is the final step: soaking the warm cake with glaze. It keeps well (in the frig, if you think it'll hang around for a few days) and makes a great breakfast cake, too.

  • 1-3/4 c. flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 2 sticks buttered, room temperature
  • 1 c. sugar
  •  3 t. finely grated or chopped orange zest (two oranges worth)
  • 3 eggs, room temperature, separated
  • 1 c. PLAIN  yogurt (not sweetened!)
  • 2 t. vanilla (use the real stuff, folks; it's worth the money)
  • pinch of salt
  • GLAZE:
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. orange juice  (squeeze the heck out of the two oranges you zested)
  • 3 T. lemon (roughly the juice of one lemon)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly butter and flour a bundt pan (10 or 12 cup) or a tube pan. Tap out the excess flour.

In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking  powder, and baking soda three times.

I use a stand mixer (you could it all by hand if your shoulders and wrists are up to it). Beat the butter on high speed until light and fluffy, roughly five or six minutes. Gradually add the sugar and orange zest, beating until the sugar is fully dissolved  and the mixture is light. This takes about eight minutes.

Add the egg YOLKS one at a time, beating until fully incorporated. Add the yogurt and vanilla and continue beating until light and fluffy, another couple of minutes.

Using a large wooden spoon, gently fold in the dry ingredients. (You could use the mixer, but if so, keep the speed low and don't overdo it. Overmixing makes for a tough cake.)

In a different bowl, using medium speed, beat the egg WHITES and the salt until firm. (Dip and lift the beaters. The whites should just stand.) Using a spatula, gently fold the whites into the batter until just blended. Again, don't overdo it. Spoon the batter into the pan and smooth the surface.

Bake 50 to 60 minutes. In my oven, it's done at 5o minutes, so keep an eye on it and a tester handy. Cool on a wire rack for ten minutes.

While it's cooling (or just before the cake is due to come out of the oven), combine the glaze ingredients in a small pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce to low heat, and simmer until the syrup has reduced to about a half cup. This will take ten or fifteen minutes.

Use a knife to loosen the cake from the pan. Invert it onto a serving platter. Brush or drizzle the glaze over the cake. There's a lot of glaze and this will take several minutes. You want the glaze to saturate the entire cake. And do this while the cake is warm! Otherwise the cake won't absorb the glaze as easily or fully.