It was Nico’s birthday and he came home from San Francisco to celebrate with his folks. They (Pablo and Mary) invited us to celebrate with them. I said I’d make the cake (I love making cake) and so I did. I made Orange Cake with Apricot Cream – an ancient Cook’s magazine recipe (1987 – honestly) – one of my non-chocolate favorites. It’s a lovely cake if you don’t over-cook it and the apricot whipped cream frosting is really delicious. So I told Nico that I had made it and then he said he was in the process of calling 10 of his friends and also he didn’t sound completely convinced that it sounded delicious. Well obviously there wasn’t going to be enough cake if 10 of Nico’s friends and his parent’s friends were celebrating together, combined with what I perceived as his lack of enthusiasm for the type of cake (could have been my own insecurity and Nico’s usual low-key approach to life. . ..). So I also made a carrot cake (recipe to follow shortly). Both cakes were well received. Neither are Vegan. Sorry Jim. . ..
ORANGE CAKE WITH APRICOT CREAM (Cook’s magazine, May, June 1987)
Orange Butter Cake
1 ½ tsp orange zest
9 Tbsp softened butter
1 ½ cups sugar
2 ¼ cups cake flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
¾ cup milk
Directions for Cake:
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9-inch-round pans. Grate orange zest Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Sift (or I just whisk) together the cake flour and baking powder. Beat 1/3 of the flour mixture into the butter/sugar mixture. Beat in 1 egg. Repeat twice until flour and eggs are incorporated. Add the orange zest and milk and mix on low or gently by hand until smooth. Pour batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface. Bake until the center springs back (but just barely or it will be over-done and dry) about 25-minutes. Cool for 10-minutes on a rack and then turn the cakes onto the rack to completely cool.
Apricot Cream Frosting
1 cup dried apricots
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ cups water
1 Tbsp orange liqueur
2 ½ cups heavy cream
1 Tbsp confectioners’ sugar
Pastry Bag and ½ inch plain tip (or not – see below)
Orange zest for garnishing
Directions for Frosting:
Cut the apricots into quarters or bits. Put them and sugar in a saucepan with the water and simmer over medium high heat until most of the water is absorbed – about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in orange liqueur. Puree in a food processor until smooth. Chill. Stir in ½ cup of the heavy cream. Whip 1 cup of heavy cream with 2 tsp of confectioners’ sugar until the cream barely holds soft peaks. Fold into the chilled apricot puree. Put 1 layer of the cake on a pretty platter and spread 1/3 of the apricot cream on it.
Put the second layer on top and press gently in the center. Spread remaining apricot cream evenly over the sides and top.
Whip the remaining cup of cream with remaining tsp of confectioners’ sugar to soft peats and put it into a pastry bag fitted with a ½ inch plain tip. Pipe out a pattern of eight (8) 3-loop spirals. Chill. Remove from refrigerator 15-minutes before serving. Arrange the orange zest strips on the spirals.
Or... do what I do which is skip the pastry bag part and decorate the top and platter of cake with flowers from the garden. It looks really pretty that way too.
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