For the last year, I’ve been baking birthday cakes for friends. This one was made for a party on Friday night and is about as “simple” as I can bake any cake.  First let me say, I am currently without a decent camera and so, the pictures on this and upcoming food posts will not be stellar.

As the year has gone on, unfortunately, I’ve not written down any of the recipes as I’ve created these cakes. As I continue to make cakes and special occasion treats, I’ll be blogging those recipes as much for myself as for you.

I made two batches of the white butter cake—one lemon and one orange. Once baked and cooled, I bisected each cake to produce four layers and stacked them, alternating between the two different cake flavors. Topped with spicy chocolate ganache and candied lemon peels.

This cake is not overly sweet and actually has a hint of savory to it. Overall, a lovely modified white butter cake. As always, if you make this recipe, let me know how it turned out for you. Comments are always welcome!

The recipe:

Basic White Butter Cake: makes one 9″ round pan (double the recipe to make a four tiered cake).  My alterations to this simple recipe appear in italics.

Preheat oven to  350 F. To prepare pan, butter and flour the sides of the pan and cut parchment paper into the bottom of the pan.

1 3/4 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 c. butter @ room temperature
1 c. sugar, divided (3/4 to be creamed with butter and 1/4 to  be added to egg whites)

2 large eggs, separated
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond

1/2 c. milk
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar


1. Separate eggs while cold, placing yokes and whites into separate bowls. Allow the eggs to come up to room temperature.

2. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt.  To the flour mixture, add the spices. To the orange layer, add 1/8 tsp. each of clove, chili powder, and a pinch of cardammon (less than 1/8 tsp.). To the orange layer, add 1/8 tsp each of clove, chili powder, and nutmeg.

3. Using a mixture, beat butter until soft, add 3/4 c. sugar and beat until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes).  Add egg yokes, one at a tie, scrapping down the bowl after each add. Once eggs are incorporated, add the vanilla and almond extract. To this mixture, add the rind from one orange (orange cake) or one Meyer lemon (lemon cake). The batter will be thick and a bit un-cake like.

4. With the mixer on low, in alternating adds beginning with the flour mixture, add the flour mixture and milk.  Set aside.

5. Using the mixer, whisk ROOM TEMPERATURE egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Add 1/4 c. of sugar and beat until still peaks form. Tip: If this process takes more than 8 minutes, something’s off. Either the eggs are not at room temperature or you’ve gotten a bit of yoke in the egg whites during separation.

6. Take a 1/2 c. of the egg whites and fold into the batter to lighten it. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining egg whites. DO NOT OVERMIX! The use of the rubber spatula is important as it allows you to fold in the egg whites without overly deflating them in the process.

7. Smooth tops and bake at 20-25 minutes. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, remove from pans and allow to cool completely on racks. Once completely cool (at least an hour), use a bread knife to bisect the cake into two layers.

Spicy Chocolate Ganache Frosting (will frost a 4 tier cake)

8 oz. of bittersweet chocolate (finely chopped)
2 TBP. light corn syrup
1 1/2 ounces unsalted butter at room temperature
1 c. heavy cream
1 TBP. chili powder
1/8-1/4 tsp. cayenne

In a heat proof bowl, place chopped chocolate, syrup, and butter. Heat the cream until it begins to boil. Remove from heat and immediately pour over the chocolate. Allow the mixture to sit—without stirring— for 3 minutes. Stir until smooth.  Allow the ganache to come to room temperature. If you attempt to decorate the cake when the ganache is too warm, it will be overly running and unmanageable.

Candied Lemon Peel

Using a vegetable peeler, remove peel from lemon in vertical stripes. Avoid removing white pithe from the lemon rind.

Place the peels and 2 c. of cold water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Drain off the water and and repeat the process twice.

Remove the peels from the saucepan and set aside. Place 2 c. of sugar into the pan along with 1 c. of water. Whisk until the sugar dissolves, add the peels, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered until the peels are tender and translucent (approximately 10-15 minutes).

Place  1/2 c. sugar in a medium bowl and add peels. Toss to coat the peels. The peels will begin to dry and stiffen. Shake off the remaining sugar. Set aside until you’re ready to decorate the cake. These peels can be placed in an air-tight container and placed in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Cake Assemblage:

On a flat plate or platter, place approximately 2 TBS of ganache. Place first layer of cake. Alternating layers of orange and lemon, place chocolate ganache between the layers.

Once assembled, a butter knife, used with quick motions, will apply the frosting and smooth out the edges. To ice a cake, multiple thin layers is best. Attempting to put too much frosting on will result in a crumbled, torn surface. If you apply in thinner layers, you can cover up imperfections more easily. Dip the knife into a glass of warm water if the frosting begins to snag. Place icing on the top of the cake first, then smooth the sides.

Once assembled and decorated, add the lemon peels to the top for garnish.