It happens to the best of us. Though there always seem to be a tremendous amount of work to be done before we can take that first step into freedom, it’s inevitable that the closer our vacation date comes, the harder and harder it is to maintain focus. For me this is especially true in the winter. Let’s face it, unless you’re Chloe Kim or Mikaela Shiffrin, winter can really be the pits. I’ve never been very fast or very graceful on skis or a snowboard; though I have tried, and tried, and tried.
These days I opt for vacations closer to the equator, and in five short days, I’m off to Miami and The Keys. Naturally, the sunshine state is all I can think about…between the beaches, the citrus, the beaches, the ceviche, the beaches, the café cubanos, the beaches, the art deco…did I mention the beaches? It’s a wonder I even manage to walk through the door at work let alone actually bake something. I nearly destroyed the bread today…I forgot to set a timer for it’s second proofing…nearly. After 8 years of professional baking, you can’t help but develop a honed internal timer. Still, I’ve been spending most of my days dreaming of sunshine and blue skies, and I can’t wait to get on that plane.
I didn’t really see any reason to fight my wandering mind this week, so I just went with it, and made this sunny Creamsicle Cake, which wouldn’t be possible without all the glorious citrus coming out of Florida. It also wouldn’t be possible without the incredibly careful experimenting of Eileen Gray, the moment I read her recipe for white cake, I knew I would love it and I was right. It’s as velvety as the name claims; I made it exactly as she states but with the addition of loads of orange zest. I hope this cake helps brighten any winter blues you may be fighting.
Zesty White Cake | 2-8” Rounds
Adapted from Eileen Gray at Baking Sense: https://www.baking-sense.com/2017/09/14/white-cake/
285 g Cake flour
¾ t Baking powder
¾ t Salt
½ t Baking soda
340 g Sugar, divided
283 g Butter, room temperature
230 g Sour cream, room temperature
1T Vanilla extract
Zest of 6 Oranges
6 ea Egg whites
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two 8” cake pans with a circle of parchment, or butter and flour the bottom only.
2. Sift the dry ingredients along with 1 cup of the granulated sugar.
3. Mix the dry ingredients on low speed for 30 seconds to distribute the leavening agents.
4. With the mixer on low, add half the sour cream and toss in the butter a tablespoon at a time.
5. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
6. With the mixer on low speed, add the remaining sour cream, vanilla and orange zest.
7. Increase the speed to medium and beat about 3-4 minutes until the batter lightens in texture and becomes aerated.
8. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure there are now pockets of unmixed batter.
9. In another bowl, whip the egg whites on medium high until the form soft peaks.
10. Turn the mixer to medium low and slowly add the remaining sugar.
11. Turn the speed to medium high and whip the whites to full peak.
12. Fold the whites into the base in three additions.
13. Fold just until there are no streaks of egg white.
14. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and spread to level.
15. Bake 25-20 minutes until the center of the cake springs back when lightly pressed.
16. Cool 10 minutes in the pan and then turn out onto a cooling rack.
17. Once cool, split each cake into two layers.
Creamsicle Pastry Cream | Yield: 1 quart
1 ½ c Heavy cream
78 g Sugar
1 ea Egg
1 ea Yolk
42 g Pastry cream powder
78 g Sugar
1 T Lemon juice
1 c Orange juice concentrate
1 oz Butter, room temperature
1. Whisk to combine the second measure of sugar with the pastry cream powder, egg and yolk.
2. Bring to a boil the cream and first measure of sugar.
3. Temper hot cream into egg mixture while whisking constantly; add orange and lemon juices.
4. Return all to medium high heat and bring back to a boil while whisking constantly. Cook for about 2 minutes.
5. Remove from heat, whisk in butter. Keep whisking until it is fully incorporated.
6. Chill in a shallow dish, in the refrigerator, with plastic wrap directly on its surface.
7. Once cool, whip pastry cream for about 1 minute, just to soften. Use either a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or a hand held mixer.
Orange Blossom Whip Cream | Yield 1 pt
1 pt Heavy cream
1 ea Gelatin sheets
30 g Sugar
10 g Orange Blossom Water
1. Bloom the gelatin: fill a container with enough ice water to cover the gelatin. Add the gelatin and submerge completely. Set aside for ~10 minutes, then squeeze to drain excess water.
2. Heat approximately ¼ cup of the cream just to scalding. Remove from heat and whisk in the sugar and the gelatin to dissolve.
3. Slowly temper in remaining cream. Chill at least one hour before whipping, overnight is best.
4. Whip the cream to medium peaks and use to frost your cake as desired.
2 ea Zesty white cake rounds, split
1 qt Creamsicle Pastry Cream
1 pt Orange Blossom Cream, whipped
4 ea Cara Cara orange supremes
1. Place a cardboard circle inside an 8” cake ring mold.
2. Place one cake layer on top of the cardboard circle and top with 1/3 of the filling, spreading evenly.
3. Place a second cake layer on top and add another 1/3 of the filling. Repeat.
4. Finally, place the last cake layer on top.
5. Wrap the cake with plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour or overnight.
6. Unmold the cake and crumb coat. Chill for 15 minutes.
7. I finished the cake in the picture by piping vertical lines with a star tip, but any manner of finishing techniques would be appropriate.
8. Lastly, I garnish with the supremes of 4 cara cara oranges to indicate the flavor of the filling.