orange cake with marzipan layer and vanilla bean buttercream frosting

Sticking with things hasn’t always been my strong suit. Generally, my interests were always arts-related and I tried various things in that category – trying to “figure it all out”, as we all do. More often than not, I would become frustrated with myself if I didn’t excel quick enough and would give up all together. The only thing that is more irritating than not excelling at something you enjoy, is having a long list of things you “quit”. I cannot stand that word – quit. It has always been a word that weighed down on my shoulders, hovering over me the second that I became skeptical over a new activity I’d chosen. I think I had actually become guilt-ridden because I hadn’t found something that I was passionate about that I could stick to, and I don’t think that I’m the only one who has ever felt this way.

Looking back over the past year, though many things stand out, what I find truly fascinating is how patient you can be when you’re involved in the things that you truly love, and are happy as a whole. Something I’m constantly asked is how I can bake all day long and then happily cook supper that night. I think that when you really love something, the hours you put in are not only effortless, but exciting. And when the time comes to leave the kitchen that day, throughout the night I ponder new flavours and ideas for inspiration the next day.

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So here we are, the end of the first month of 2015. How are you doing? This month is known as “the Monday of months”, and maybe it’s a causation of what I was talking about above. We set these “resolutions” and end up expecting so much change (too much) in ourselves in one month, and when we stray off course, we get frustrated and give up. Here’s my proposal: take each day for the day that it is and how you feel in each moment. Address the things that aren’t serving you in a positive way, do what you can today to make a small change. Goals are great, but if we constantly have our eyes looking straight up, we’re going to trip a time or two.

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If this month has indeed felt like the Monday of months for you, I’ve got a little something that will surely brighten up your kitchen, no matter how grey and snowy (currently ice-laden here, woo!) it is outdoors.

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The orange flavour in this cake really shines through, while the addition of light spelt flour gives the cake a nice soft crumb and a boost in nutty flavour to compliment the marzipan. If you don’t have marzipan and don’t want to go out of your way to get it, that’s cool! The combination of orange and vanilla is beautiful on its own. Plus, if you’re feeling conscious of your diet, the sugar content of this cake is reduced by a large proportion when compared to traditional cake recipes – this cake won’t leave you feeling heavy.

++I used biscuit cutters to make my cakes into mini cakes, but this recipe will make one 8-inch double layer cake.

+++The frosting recipe will make enough to give your cake the “naked frost” as shown above. If you’re wanting a thicker frosting, double the recipe.

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Orange Cake with Marzipan Layer and Vanilla Bean Frosting
(makes one 8-inch double layer cake)

for the cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 cup light spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk (i used the leftovers from making butter, which gave it a nice buttery flavour. you can opt for skim, or unsweetened almond/soy/coconut)
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 2 tbsp honey (can sub additional cane sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • few drops of pure orange oil (can sub with 1/2 tsp orange extract)

for marzipan layer:

  • 1/2 tube of marzipan (your supermarket should have this in its international section!), roughly 1/3 cup, packed.

for the frosting:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 tbsp solid coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
  •  2 tbsp milk (roughly – or until icing reaches your desired texture)
  • pinch of kosher salt

1. For the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and butter and flour two 8 inch cake pans.

2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flours, sugar, baking powder & soda, salt, and orange zest.

3. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together orange juice (about 2 tablespoons), milk, oil, honey and extracts. Add to dry ingredients and stir, gradually adding boiling water and stirring just until the batter comes together. Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans. Bake cakes for 25-35 minutes, until the edges begin to golden in colour, it springs back in the middle when poked, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (a few crumbs are okay).

4. Allow to cool in pans for 5 minutes and then invert on cooling racks to cool completely.

5. Make your frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a mixing bowl, you can totally do this by hand with some elbow grease!) beat together butter and oil on a low speed until combined and soft. Sift in powder sugar, add vanilla bean paste/extract and a pinch of salt and beat again, gradually adding a splash of milk until the icing reaches your desired consistency. Allow to chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes prior to frosting.
+++Tip: CHILLED cakes are MUCH easier to frost – chill your cake (once already completely cooled in air temp) along with your frosting for 30 minutes.

6. Level your cakes if necessary. If using marzipan, roll the marzipan out super thin – 1/4 inch, roughly (I find that a thin layer of this is preferred) and use cake pan to cut out the round of marzipan.Top one cake with a thin layer of frosting, followed by marzipan round, and another thin layer of frosting. Place the other cake on top and frost as desired.

This cake will stay perfectly moist when frosted for at least 3 days – enjoy!

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