This fine-grained, flavorful orange cake is perfect for any festive occasion. It is especially good when made with Apricot-Orange Cake Filling and frosted with Orange Buttercream.
You can slice each layer in half horizontally with a serrated knife, making a four-layer cake, or you can leave it a simple two-layer cake. The layers have a tendency to slide around as you are frosting them. You can stabilize them by anchoring the layers to each other with bamboo skewers.
The cake can be baked ahead, double-wrapped and refrigerated up to 2 days or frozen up to 2 weeks. To thaw, place wrapped cake in the refrigerator overnight.
Yield: Makes a standard 8- or 9-inch layer cake, 20 servings
- 2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour, plus more for dusting the pans
- 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup low-fat (2 percent) milk
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/4 cup plain, nonfat yogurt
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons orange extract
- 2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Coat two 8- or 9-inch round cake pans with butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray oil. Line the bottom of each pan with baking parchment or waxed paper, spray the paper liners with cooking spray and dust with flour. Tap out excess flour. Set the pans aside.
In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Place the egg whites in a large grease-free mixing bowl. With clean beaters, whip the whites until foamy, then gradually add 1/2 cup of the sugar while beating on medium-high speed until almost stiff (don't overbeat). The whites should be satiny, glossy and perfectly smooth. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and set it aside. Shake the beaters into the bowl, then return the beaters to the mixer without washing them.
In a small saucepan, heat the milk over low heat until just lukewarm to the touch (95 to 100 degrees on an instant-read thermometer). Set the milk aside.
In another large mixing bowl, combine the egg yolk, yogurt, oil, both extracts and the orange zest. Beat to blend, then add the remaining 1 cup sugar. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour in the lukewarm milk while beating constantly for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture is light-colored and the sugar is dissolved. Stop and scrape down the mixer bowl and beater.
With the mixer on low speed, gradually blend the flour mixture into the yolk batter. Beat until smooth. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and fold into the whipped whites, adding about 1 cup at a time until no large clumps are visible.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pans, smoothing the tops with a spatula.
Tap each pan once sharply on the counter to remove any large air bubbles.
Bake the layers in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until the tops are golden and springy to the touch and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean or with just a crumb or two attached. Remove to a wire rack. Top with another rack or a waxed-paper-covered cardboard disk and invert; remove the pans and peel off the paper liners. Cool completely.
To make a 4-layer cake and fill it with Apricot-Orange Cake Filling (see related recipe), use a serrated knife to slice each layer in half horizontally. Place one layer, cut-side up, on a serving plate and top with about 2/3 cup of filling.
Repeat, adding layers and filling, ending with a top layer cut-side down.
Frost the sides and top of the cake with Orange Buttercream Frosting (see related recipe).
Adapted from "Let Them Eat Cake" by Susan G. Purdy (Morrow, $25).
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