Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Orange Marmalade Cake
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I am posting this with Alphabe-Thursday where the letter of the day is "O" for Orange Marmalade Cake.
I have been waiting to make Orange Marmalade Cake ever since I read the Mitford books. The recipe did live up to my expectations! I loved that it had orange juice poked into the cake after baking. I also loved the whipped cream and sour cream frosting. It did take awhile to make, but I think it was worth it!
It was made famous, given almost cult-like status, by Esther Bolick one of the characters in the Mitford books by Jan Karon. She baked it for every occasion, but would never give out the recipe. Oh, there were rumors each year that she might give out the recipe, but that never occurred!
A man, named George Gaynor, who secretly lived for a time in the loft over the parish, stole some orange marmalade cake that was in the parish fridge. When he allowed himself to be discovered (during a church service!) he said, "I came to thank you for your hospitality, and to say to whoever made that orange cake--that was the finest cake I ever ate in life." (From "At Home in Mitford," page 247.)
Father Tim, who was diabetic, went into a nonketotic hyperglycemic coma after eating two slices of her cake. I will give you the section from the book "At Home in Mitford" (page 390) that describes his temptation with the Orange Marmalade Cake. At the end of the post, you can link directly to Amazon for the book "At Home in Mitford."
"He saw the tea container in the refrigerator door, but the sight of the cake carrier was so compelling that he couldn't take his eyes off it. Something cold! The cake would be cold. And sweet. Dear G-- he was wrenched with a craving for something sweet, if only one bite. Surely one small bite couldn't hurt. He took the carrier out gingerly, as if trying to prevent an alarm from going off and announcing his indiscretion to the neighborhood. His hand shook as he snapped off the top and stood staring at what Esther Bolick had done in an act of innocent generosity. Then, without thinking about it any further, he cut a large slice, ate it standing over the sink, and went back for another piece."
After not taking care of his diabetes as he should and eating two pieces of Esther's cake, poor Father Tim went into a coma. Luckily his cute neighbor found him and was able to call for medical attention. After this episode with the cake, he had to take his diabetes more seriously.
From what I can gather, people kept on asking Jan Karon, author of the Mitford books, for the Orange Marmalade recipe and she told them there wasn't a recipe. Then, I believe a recipe was created by a chef.
"Esther's Gift, A Mitford Christmas" was entirely devoted to Esther's decisions on whether she would make the Orange Marmalade cake to take to her friends for Christmas--was it too expensive---was it worth the time?
Esther's Orange-Marmalade Layer Cake
This recipe was adapted from a recipe given on Jan Karon's page at Penguin Books; as mentioned above, there are several versions of this recipe out there.
Yields: 1 cake, 10 to 12 servings
For the Cake:
3 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) softened unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten lightly
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
For the Orange Syrup:
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
For the Filling:
1 cup orange marmalade
For the Frosting:
3/4 cup well-chilled heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup well-chilled sour cream
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans, line with parchment or waxed paper, and butter and flour the paper, shaking out the excess.
2. In a bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, and salt.
3. In a bowl with an electric mixer, beat the butter until combined, add the sugar, a little at a time, and beat the mixture until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, orange zest, and vanilla. Beat in 1/3 of the dry ingredients alternately with 1/2 of the buttermilk until combined well. Add half the remaining dry ingredients and the remaining buttermilk and beat until combined well. Finally, beat in the remaining dry ingredients until mixture is smooth.
4. Evenly divide the batter between the pans, smooth the surface, rap each pan on the counter to expel any air pockets or bubbles, then transfer to the oven. I found that this was too much batter for 2 (9-inch ) pans so I would advise taking out about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of batter. Bake for 45 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. I baked my cake layers for 48 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool in the pans for 20 minutes.
To Make the Orange Syrup:
5. Meanwhile, make the orange syrup: In a bowl, stir together the orange juice and sugar until sugar is dissolved.
6. With a toothpick or wooden skewer, poke holes at 1/2-inch intervals in the cake layers and spoon the syrup over each layer, allowing the syrup to be completely absorbed before adding the remaining. Make sure that you get the syrup on the outside part of the cake. Let layers cool completely.
To Make the Filling:
7. In a small saucepan set over moderate heat, heat the marmalade until just melted. Let cool 5 minutes.
To Make the Frosting:
8. In a bowl, with an electric beater beat the heavy cream with the sugar until it forms firm peaks. By hand, add the sour cream, a little at a time, and whisk until of spreading consistency. Do not overmix! I thought you could maybe have more frosting. Maybe one cup of whipping cream and one cup of sour cream. Do not use low-fat or no-fat sour cream!
To Assemble the Cake:
9. Arrange one of the layers on a cake plate, carefully peel off the waxed paper, then spread 2/3 of the marmalade over the top, smoothing it into an even layer. Invert the remaining layer onto the top of the first layer, peel off the waxed paper and spoon the remaining marmalade onto the center of it, leaving a 1 1/4-inch border around the edge. Frost the sides and top of the border with the frosting, leaving the marmalade on top of the cake exposed. Or if you prefer, frost the entire cake, adding the marmalade as a garnish on top. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.
To view the "At Home in Mitford," book mentioned in this post, you can click on the link below: