September 16, 2022: In case you haven’t heard, or simply aren’t counting, let me remind you that there are exactly 100 days until Christmas! Before you start ordering gifts for friends who love to cook (or for those who sinply love Ireland), consider my new cookbook, Festive Flavors of Ireland, jam-packed with recipes for the holidays. But if you feel it’s too early to start thinking about fruitcake and figgy pudding, take comfort in this delicious recipe for an orange spice cake that’s as perfect in September as it is in December. To order a signed copy of Festive Flavors of Ireland, visit irishcook.com.
ORANGE SPICE CAKE
This cake is a lovely alternative to the traditional fruit-filled Christmas cake, but it maintains all the festive flavors of holiday fruits and spices. Use a thin-skinned seedless orange rather than any thick-skinned varieties such as Jaffa or Navel as their skin can be bitter.
For the cake
1 small thin-skinned orange
2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon Mixed Spice (page xx) or pumpkin pie spice
1 1/4 cups sugar
8 ounces butter, at room temperature
4 large eggs
For the filling
4 ounces butter, at room temperature
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons reserved orange pulp
Orange peel or zest, for garnish
ONE. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat two 8-inch baking pans with baking spray with flour; line with a round of parchment paper.
TWO. Put orange into a small saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until orange is tender when pierced with tip of a sharp knife. Remove from heat, drain; let cool for about 30 minutes. Cut in half.
THREE. In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and Mixed Spice or pumpkin pie spice.
FOUR. Transfer orange halves, including skin, to a food processor; pulse 8 to 10 times, or until chunky. Reserve 2 tablespoons of orange pulp for icing. Return bowl to processor; add flour mixture, sugar, butter and eggs; process for 20 to 30 seconds, or until mixture is blended (avoid overmixing). Divide mixture evenly between prepared pans.
FIVE. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into center comes out clean. Remove from oven; let cool for 5 minutes on wire rack. Invert pans onto rack, peel off wax paper. Let cool completely. Cut each cake in half horizontally to create four layers (see NOTE).
SIX. Make filling. In bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat butter until smooth. Slowly beat in sugar and reserved orange pulp. With an offset spatula, spread filling between layers and over top of cake. Garnish with orange peel.
NOTE: To cut each layer in half evenly, place toothpicks at the halfway point around the edges of cake. With a large, serrated knife, slice through cake along toothpick line, slicing slowly to maintain accuracy.