I was just talking to one of my best childhood friends, Steffi, from Germany. Talking to her got me thinking about many of the things I miss from back home in Europe. One small, but fond item that came to mind was triggered by seeing a jug of buttermilk in my fridge. Germany makes the best flavored milk drinks (Mueller Milch), including flavored buttermilk. You can go into any grocery store in Germany and find pint-sized cartons of delicious flavored buttermilk – all kinds of different fruity flavors. (German buttermilk tastes significantly different than what you buy over here in the U.S.. It’s much milder for one thing.) I used to love getting a carton of cold, refreshing berry or citrus-flavored buttermilk and drinking it in the car on the way home from a grocery trip. So, I was looking at this jug of buttermilk in my fridge today, craving that fruity buttermilk from Germany. I was in the mood for something sweet and fresh. My eyes next caught hold of some oranges I had on the bottom shelf. Buttermilk and oranges…oh, yes! While I was tempted to just make a sweet orange buttermilk drink like the kind I would buy in Germany, I decided to go a different direction. Within 5 minutes I was whipping up a new creation: an Orange Buttermilk Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting!
The buttermilk cuts down on fat while adding a refreshing tang and creating a moist and tender crumb. Two whole tablespoons of fresh orange zest are nestled within the cake and the cream cheese frosting incorporates freshly squeezed orange juice and orange marmalade. Can you spell d.i.v.i.n.e.?
Before we get started, let me also add that you can make three alternative versions of this cake: Lemon, Lime, and Grapefruit. Simply substitute the zest, juice, and marmalade accordingly. Isn’t this fun?
Okay, here’s how it goes:
Combine the sugar and eggs. Whisk until combined. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl.
Zest an entire orange. Add the zest and vanilla extract to the sugar mixture and whisk until combined. And the buttermilk and whisk to combine. Add the melted butter and whisk to combine.
Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and carefully whisk just until combined. Careful not to over-whisk or the cake will be dense and heavy. Place a sheet of foil or parchment paper over the cake pan and press down to get the indentation. Cut just inside of the circle indentation to get a good fit. Place the circle cutout in the bottom of the cake pan. Carefully butter the top of the foil or parchment paper and the sides of the pan. Pour the batter into the cake pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.
I use the hand-forged aluminum pan from Magic Line, made in the USA. Love it!
Bake the cake at 350 F for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool for 30 minutes before removing it and placing it on a wire rack. Invert the cake from the cake pan and allow the cake to cool completely. Using a large serrated knife, cut the cake in half and carefully place the layers next to each other.
Squeeze the juice from the orange you zested. To make the orange cream cheese frosting, combine the cream cheese, butter, orange marmalade, orange extract, and orange juice. Beat with an electric mixer until combined and smooth. Add the powdered sugar and continue to beat until combined and smooth. This orange cream cheese frosting is out of this world!
Spread some orange marmalade on the bottom layer of the cake. Spread 1/4 of the cream cheese over the marmalade. Invert the top layer and place it over the bottom layer. Carefully transfer the cake to a cake saver and frost it with the remaining cream cheese frosting.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup buttermilk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Zest of one orange (just a little over 1 tablespoon)
- ¼ cup butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
- For the frosting
- 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons orange marmalade
- 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon orange extract
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Sift the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, add the sugar and eggs and whisk until combined. Add the orange zest, vanilla extract and buttermilk and whisk until combined. Add the cooled melted butter and whisk to combine. Add the flour and carefully whisk until just combined, being careful not to over-whisk.
- Prepare a 9x2 inch round baking pan (I use Magic Line), line the bottom with parchment paper or foil and butter the top of the lining and the sides of the pan.
- Pour the batter into the pan, smooth the top with a rubber spatula, and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 30 minutes before inverting it onto a wire rack and allowing it to cool completely.
- To make the frosting: Combine the first 6 ingredients and beat with a mixer until combined and smooth. Add the powdered sugar and beat until combined and smooth.
- Cut the cake in half. Spread some orange marmalade on the bottom half. Spread ¼ of the cream cheese frosting on top of the marmalade. Invert the top half of the cake and place it on top of the bottom layer. Frost the cake with the remaining cream cheese frosting.