One of my favorite cakes to make is Martha Stewart’s Orange Almond cake with swiss meringue buttercream icing. It is an elegant cake with a delightfully refreshing taste.
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 6 large egg whites
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for pans
- 1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising), plus more for pans
- 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
- 6 large eggs, separated
- Grated zest of 2 oranges
- 2/3 cup strained, freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1 1/2 cups finely ground blanched almonds
- Pinch of salt
Heat sugar and eggs: Bring a saucepan filled with about 2 inches of water to a simmer. Meanwhile, combine sugar, egg whites, and salt in a large heat-proof mixing bowl. Set bowl over (not in) simmering water, and whisk until whites are warm to the touch and sugar is dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes. (Heating the eggs relaxes their proteins, enabling the eggs to whip up higher and more quickly; the sugar also melts, for a silky smooth consistency.) Test by rubbing between your fingers; the mixture should feel smooth.
2. Whip meringue: Attach bowl to a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat on low speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and beat on medium-high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form and mixture is cooled completely, about 10 minutes.
3. Mix in butter: Reduce speed to medium-low; add butter 2 tablespoons at a time, beating to incorporate fully after each addition. Don’t worry if the buttercream appears curdled at this point; it will become perfectly smooth again with continued beating. After all the butter has been incorporated, beat in vanilla.
4. Finish: Switch to the paddle attachment. Beat on the lowest speed to reduce air bubbles, 3 to 5 minutes. Let stand, covered with plastic wrap, at room temperature. If not using the same day, transfer to airtight containers and store in the refrigerator up to 3 days or the freezer up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature; beat with paddle attachment on the lowest speed until smooth and pliable, about 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper. Butter parchment and flour cake pans; set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together 1 cup of sugar and egg yolks until light and fluffy. Add orange zest, juice, and almond extract; mix until well combined. Turn mixer off. Remove the whisk and add the paddle attachment. With the mixer on medium, slowly add ground almonds, followed by flour; mix cake batter until well combined.
3. In a large bowl, whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. Add salt and remaining 3 tablespoons sugar; beat until stiff but not dry. Set aside.
4. Fold melted butter into cake batter, a little at a time. Gently fold in egg white mixture, taking care not to deflate whites. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans. Transfer to oven and bake until a cake tester inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Transfer cake layers to a wire rack to cool completely.
5. Invert cakes to remove from pan and remove parchment paper; reinvert cakes. Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes to make level. Place four strips of parchment paper around perimeter of a serving plate or lazy Susan. Place the first layer on the cake plate. Spread frosting over the first layer with a small offset spatula so it extends just beyond edges.
6. Place the remaining layer on top, bottom-side up. Gently sweep away any loose crumbs with a pastry brush. Using an offset spatula, cover the top and sides with a thin layer of frosting (also use any of the excess frosting visible between the layers). Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.
7. Using an offset spatula, cover cake again with remaining frosting.
8. I decided to roast almond slivers in the oven with honey and added them to the top of the cake for decoration. To do this, add parchment paper to a baking tray. Then spread a bag of almond slivers onto the parchment paper and drizzle honey over the almond pieces. Then add salt. Place in oven for about 4 minutes. Wait for them to cool and then sprinkle on top of icing.