February 7, 2012

"Naked" Chocolate Orange Cake


My husband's and my birthdays are so close together that we celebrate them jointly.  This year, he requested orange chocolate for his birthday cake (which is really our birthday cake).  The oranges on the cake ended up matching the brilliant Seattle sunset we had that day.




Unfortunately, both the orange curd filling and the orange buttercream required that I wrest some zest from several oranges.  The only tool I currently have to do that is the cheese grater, which somehow manages to gash a knuckle or two every time I use it on fruit.  This time, however, it got three knuckles on my right hand.  After bandaging myself up for the third time so that I would not bleed into the oranges, I ordered this decidedly less lethal-looking zester from Amazon.  It's on its way.

He's hungry.

I decided to leave the frosting off of the sides of the cake, partially because I didn't want the orange flavor to overwhelm the chocolate, and partially because I've liked the look of side-less cakes when I've seen pictures of them.  My sister, however, took one look at the cake and said it was "naked".  I think when I try this look again, I will make the layers thinner - I think they're a bit thick on this cake.  I'll also make sure I do a better job leveling the cake so that each layer doesn't pudge out quite so much.


For decoration, I decided to make candied oranges.  They were tasty and not too difficult to make.  However, they're not the kind of thing you want to eat large quantities of within a short time -  I can really only eat a quarter of a slice at a time.


We had a good birthday party.  My husband ended up thinking the cake was tasty (so did I!).  My brother showed us Jupiter through a telescope (I saw bands!).  I got a Barbie doll (Computer Engineer Barbie!).  Happy birthday us!



Chocolate Cake
Once again, I followed Sweetapolita's recipe for One-Bowl Dark Chocolate Cake.

Orange Curd Filling
I found this recipe online and followed it.  It was less tasty than I was hoping for, and was about twice the amount I needed.  The curd had a pretty egg-y taste, so I ended up adding a lot more orange zest than was called for to try and cover the egg and make it taste more orange-y.  I might have accidentally cooked the eggs a bit too much?  Not sure.

Orange Swiss Meringue Buttercream
This was very, very tasty.

Ingredients
 3 egg whites
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
1/2 tbs vanilla
pinch of salt
juice from 1/2 naval orange
2 tbs orange zest (or to taste)

Method
Cube the butter and leave out at room temperature (make sure you don't leave it over the dishwasher or oven or it will get too warm).
Whisk the eggs whites and sugar together in the top part of a double broiler.  Make sure that the water in the bottom part is simmering, not boiling.  Keep whisking until a candy thermometer reads 160 degrees (Fahrenheit).  Transfer to a stand mixer with the whisk attachment installed.  Whip at a medium speed until the mixture is at room temperature (the bowl feels neutral when you touch it).
Lower the mixing speed and add the butter, one cube at a time.  Keep mixing until there is an obvious change in the consistency of the buttercream - from soupy to much more solid (you can usually hear the mixer start making different noises).  If it stays soupy for a very long time, throw the bowl in the refrigerator for ten minutes or so and retry.
Finally, add your vanilla and salt and keep mixing until they are incorporated.  If you are planning on storing your buttercream in the refrigerator, do that now.  Don't add other flavoring until you're ready to frost.
Add the orange juice.  The frosting will look horrible for a while until the juice gets incorporated.  Add the orange zest a bit at a time until the buttercream tastes how you want it to.

Candied Oranges
I followed a recipe for Candied Orange Slices over at Whisk Kid.

Building a "Naked" Chocolate Orange Cake
Level each cake layer (I like using a cake leveler for this).
Using a large round or decorated tip, pipe some buttercream in a circle around the top edge of your first cake layer.  Try and get as close to the edge of the layer as possible.  Fill the inside of the circle with orange curd filling.
Place your second cake layer on top of the first (make sure it's centered).  Pipe another buttercream circle and fill again with orange curd.
Place your final cake layer on top of the second.  Spread buttercream onto the top layer, but don't worry about getting the buttercream all the way to the edges of the layer.  Pipe a circle around the edge of the top cake layer.
Cut three or four of your candied orange slices into quarters.  Arrange the quartered oranges around the top of the cake, overlapping a bit and placing each piece as close to the piped buttercream as possible.  Finish by placing a whole candied orange in the center.

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