This orange cake is infused with real oranges, an orange buttercream and garnished with candied citrus slices and peel. | tchakayiti.com

An orange cake with candied citrus, a birthday baking challenge

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There’s an orange confit garnished cake on the blog! Did you read that?! There’s a cake on the blog. That’s a big deal! You should all be excited about it. Why? Because I prepared a cake from scratch. I, the non-baker, baked a cake from scratch. I even whipped up my own buttercream, and prepared candied orange slices and orange peels. Now that’s something worth celebrating.

See, I have never been into baking. It requires more discipline and work than I am willing to put in. When it comes to being in the kitchen, I am definitely a freestyler. I cannot follow a recipe to the T. I love and need to adapt everything to taste. And that’s a definite no in the baking world. So naturally, most of the time, my pastries are a failure. I am the one who once forgot to add butter to a cake batch because I tried to prepare it from memory. Yes, that did happen. My baking skills, or should I say lack of, are that terrible.

This orange cake is infused with real oranges, an orange buttercream and garnished with candied citrus slices and peel. | tchakayiti.com

So why bake a cake today? Because it was my birthday and I was up for a challenge. Plus, this cake is not just any cake. It’s an orange flavored birthday cake.

Orange cakes and I have a long history. One that dates back to my childhood. Growing up, that was the one and only cake I requested for my birthday. And it came from a very specific bakery. Unfortunately, after my tenth or eleventh birthday, that place closed shop. My favorite cake was no longer. And I haven’t had an orange cake ever since.

I never forgot it, however. I have committed it to memory as the best cake I have ever had. I still remember its bright orange frosting and the rich orange flavors that permeated every layer.  For years, I longed for it. But no one could deliver.  There is not one bakery in Haiti that prepares one quite like it.

After craving it for so long, I had to take matters into my own hands; thus, today’s cake.

Now I will be the first one to tell you that it doesn’t really come close to the one I remember. Since I have no recipe for that version, I borrowed a few recipes here and there. The cake batter is from a local cookbook “My Favorite Recipes, Creole Cuisine from Haiti and Elsewhere” by Marie-Denise Célestin. As for the buttercream, it is CakeWhiz’ Easy Orange frosting.

These candied citrus peel and slices are amazing. You will want to eat them like candy. | tchakayiti.com

The candied fruits and fruit peel are my personal addition.

They were not part of the original cake I grew up with. I prepared them from freshly handpicked citruses from our lakou lakay. I have a thing for fruit preserves lately. And those were the perfect option to cover up the fact that I am an amateur. Cake decorating is not my forte. The candied citrus slices thus helped hide my sloppy frosting.

All in all, I am happy with this orange cake. The recipe combinations may not have led to an exact replica of that infamous orange birthday cake. But I am proud of myself for successfully taking on this baking challenge.  Perhaps I foresee more baking in my future.

Orange buttercream cake with candied citruses

The cake recipe is from “My Favorite Recipes” by Marie-Denis Célestin. It included its own frosting but I chose to go a different route. I have replicated the cake batter ingredients below and written the steps in my own words.

As for the buttercream, grab CakeWhiz’ Easy Orange Frosting recipe here.

I prepared these candied fruits from our homegrown citruses. The slices are sour oranges and the peels from citruses. I use the word citrus instead of oranges because I cannot confidently say which variety our fruits belong to. But you can definitely prepare them using oranges and oranges only.

Prep Time 2 days
Cook Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

For the candied citrus

  • 4 oranges you can use a combination of sour and regular oranges
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Start anise
  • All-spice
  • Sugar for sprinkling

For the cake

  • 3 sticks of butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 ½ cup of sugar
  • 2 ¾ cups of flour sifted
  • 3 tsp of baking powder sifted
  • 1 tbsp of grated orange peel
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup orange juice

Instructions

For the candied fruits

  1. Wash the oranges
  2. Slice 2 of them thinly
  3. Remove as many seeds as possible without removing the pulp
  4. Transfer to a pot
  5. Make incisions in the remaining 2 oranges
  6. Carefully separate the peel from the pulp
  7. Using a knife, try to remove as much of the inner white peel as you can
  8. Add the outer peel to the pot
  9. Cover with water and bring to a boil
  10. Drain that first cooking water and discard
  11. Repeat the process of covering and bringing to a boil a second time
  12. Discard that water as well. These two steps are essential to reduce the acidity and bitterness especially if you’re including sour oranges
  13. Remove the fruit slices and peel from the pot
  14. Measure 4 cups of water
  15. Add the sugar and sweet spices
  16. Bring to a boil until the sugar has fully melted
  17. Add the fruit slices and peel
  18. Let simmer for about 45 minutes
  19. At that point, remove the fruits from the cooking liquid and line them on a parchment covered tray
  20. Sprinkle generously with sugar and let air dry for about 24 hours. The fruits will retain their softness. Should you wish to harden them, you can dry them in the oven. But I definitely prefer the soft version.

For the cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F
  2. Cream the butter and sugar with a mixer
  3. Add the eggs one at a time while still whipping the mix
  4. Incorporate the sifted flour and baking powder with the mixer still running
  5. Slowly pour in the orange juice and whip until fully incorporated
  6. Add the vanilla and mix well
  7. Spread the batter evenly in 3 buttered and floured molds
  8. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes
  9. Remove from the oven and let cool
  10. Once cool, unmold by turning the molds upside down onto a flat surface

Putting it all together

  1. Layer the 3 cakes by spreading some buttercream in between each layer
  2. Cover the cake with a thin layer of buttercream
  3. Decorate with the candied fruits
  4. Chill in the fridge for a few hours before serving

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