I Still Have Some Buttermilk, So It’s Time For…THE Orange Walnut Cake!

Despite the batch of chocolate chip buttermilk muffins, I still have A LOT of buttermilk left.  I really, really shouldn’t make another cake since there’s, say, half a tres leches cake still in my refrigerator, but this is Kurt’s second favorite cake.  I used to make it every year for his birthday; he never tired of it (although the rest of us did).  He’s really addicted to cream cheese frosting, and this cake is slathered with one that’s not as light as the one on the red velvet cake.  This one is all butter, cream cheese and powdered sugar, flavored with fresh orange juice and zest.

The recipe is from my favorite 80s cookbook, Betty Rosbottom Cooking School Cookbook I’ve made a lot of dishes from this book (like the pork loin and barley dinner), and none have ever failed me.  I don’t remember when I first made this cake, but I’ve always been highly complimented.

The cake is made with ground walnuts and orange zest, yet is light because the egg whites are beaten then folded in to lighten the batter.  The three tiers bake beautifully, then each layer is spread with the orange-flavored cream cheese frosting and a good sprinkling of chunky chopped walnuts.  The texture of this cake is what makes is special!  (In the original recipe, there are directions to make candied orange peel to sprinkle on top, but I just won’t go there…)

I use my food processor to grind the walnuts; if you do, make sure to pulse, rather than leave the machine running, or you’ll end up with a paste (like peanut butter).  As always, have all ingredients at room temperature before you begin so your batter is all the same temperature when it goes into the oven.

Orange Walnut Cake (adapted from Betty Rosbottom’s Cooking School Cookbook)

for the cake

  • 5 eggs, room temperature, separated
  • 1 stick (8 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 2 c sugar
  • 2 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 c buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 TB orange zest (2 large oranges)
  • 1 3/4 c ground walnuts

for the frosting

  • 1 8-oz package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 stick (8 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 TB fresh orange juice
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 3 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 1 c walnuts, roughly chopped

Here’s how I made it:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter three 9-inch round cake pans, line the bottom with parchment, rebutter and flour.  Set aside.

Use parchment paper!

Use parchment paper!

Pulse the walnuts in a food processor until fine:

Use 2-3 second pulses

Use 2-3 second pulses

In a large bowl,cream the oil and butter with a hand mixer until smooth:

It's an off-white, thin mixture

It’s an off-white, thin mixture

Add the sugar gradually and beat thoroughly to blend:

Add sugar a little at a time

Add sugar a little at a time

Add the eggs and continue to beat until eggs are incorporated:

You can pour them all in at once

You can pour them all in at once

Add the flour and baking soda on slow speed; the batter will become stiff.  That’s ok.

I add the flour in 2-3 batches

I add the flour in 2-3 batches

Add the buttermilk and vanilla and mix on medium speed.

The batter loosens up considerably with the buttermilk

The batter loosens up considerably with the buttermilk

Add the orange zest and mix briefly to combine.

This very generous amount of orange zest is what makes this cake so good!

This very generous amount of orange zest is what makes this cake so good!

Add the walnuts and mix on low until combined.  Set aside while you beat the egg whites.

The walnuts aren't a bad touch, either!

The walnuts aren’t a bad touch, either!

Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.

If you want, you can test if they're ready by turning the bowl upside down-- they shouldn't fall out :-)

If you want, you can test if they’re ready by turning the bowl upside down– they shouldn’t fall out 🙂

Fold the egg whites into the batter in three equal batches.

The beaten whites ensure the cake is very light, so don't over mix when folding them into the batter!

The beaten whites ensure the cake is very light, so don’t over mix when folding them into the batter!

Pour the batter into the prepared pans,

The batter is light and full of air

The batter is light and full of air

and bake for 25 minutes until the top of the cake springs back when you press it lightly.  The cake will just begin to separate from the sides of the pan.

The scent of oranges is everywhere!

The scent of oranges is everywhere!

Unmold immediately onto wire racks and cool thoroughly.

Don't forget to remove the parchment when they're on the cooling racks!

Don’t forget to remove the parchment when they’re on the cooling racks!

When ready to frost the cake, prepare the frosting.  Beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and fluffy.  Gradually beat in the powdered sugar,

I also add the sugar in 2-3 batches

I also add the sugar in 2-3 batches

and add the orange juice.

Yeah, I don't bother to measure the OJ any more-- made this cake too many times!

Yeah, I don’t bother to measure the OJ any more– made this cake too many times!

Beat in the orange zest.  If the frosting is too soft, refrigerate for 15 minutes or until firm enough to spread.

The orange juice and zest takes this cream cheese frosting to a new level of yum

The orange juice and zest takes this cream cheese frosting to a new level of yum

Chop the walnuts.  When ready to assemble the cake, place the first layer on your platter.

I usually put the first layer upside down

I usually put the first layer upside down

Spread 1/2 c of the frosting on the layer, leaving a 1/2-inch border.  Sprinkle with half the walnuts.

Crunch walnuts and orange-flavored cream cheese frosting

Crunch walnuts and orange-flavored cream cheese frosting

Continue with the remaining layers.

Why stop at two layers when you can have three?

Why stop at two layers when you can have three?

Frost the top and side of the cake with the remaining frosting.

Another cake that's way too big for my family of four!

Another cake that’s way too big for my family of four!

Slice into 12 large or 16 regular slices.

Dig in!

Dig in!

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Filed under Baked Goods, Family, Fancy Cakes, Food

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