It’s Easter Sunday, but it’s 35 degrees in Pittsburgh this morning. Spring is an unpredictable season here in western Pennsylvania – it could be 75 and beautiful or 28 and snowing, all in the span of a few days. Mother Nature will do what she likes, and we all have to just go with it.
I like to think Mother Nature would enjoy this cake, not only for its buttercream blossoms but also its flavors. The cake itself is orange, with vanilla buttercream and a mixed berry filling. I didn’t feel like making my filling from scratch, so I heated up about 1/2 cup mixed berry preserves, then combined about 1/2 tablespoon of cornstarch with a few teaspoons of water to make a slurry. I stirred the slurry into the preserves and simmered it for about 8-10 minutes to thicken it, then cooled it in the fridge before using it.
For the cake
- 1 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- dash of salt
- 8 tablespoons butter, softened
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- zest of 1 Cara Cara orange
- 6 tablespoons milk
For the frosting, filling, and decoration
- 1 cup butter, at room temperature
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup Bonne Maman mixed berry preserves, thickened*
- Pink, yellow, fuchsia, and green gel food coloring
*To use preserves as a cake filling, place 1/2 cup preserves in a small saucepan over medium heat. In a small bowl, combine about 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch and 2 teaspoons water to make a slurry, then stir into the preserves. Simmer until thickened – the mixture will reduce as it cooks.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two 6-inch round cake pans, line each with a parchment circle, and lightly grease the parchment.
In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until very well-blended. Add eggs, vanilla extract, and orange zest and beat well to combine, scraping the sides of your bowl a few times.
Add flour and milk alternatively in two batches, beginning and ending with the flour and beating until completely combined.
Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 18-22 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow cakes to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then carefully turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the frosting: in a mixing bowl, beat butter on medium speed for 1-2 minutes. Add powdered sugar and beat on low, then medium speed, until the sugar is fully incorporated into the butter. Add vanilla extract and beat on medium speed for another 1-2 minutes. You want a spreadable consistency, but not so soft that your flower petals won’t hold their shape.
Place bottom layer of cake on your cake stand or plate and pipe a border just inside the edge of your cake; fill with thickened preserves. Top with the other cake and frost top and sides, covering with an even layer of frosting. Reserve a small portion of white frosting for flower details and another small portion for leaves; tint the remainder of your frosting to your desired shades and pipe flowers to create your design; I used roses, rosebuds, and five-petal flowers, then chilled them until they set before placing them on the cake. I then used two different sizes of closed-star tips to fill in the gaps with the other blooms and added leaves.
Store cake in an airtight container in the fridge; bring to room temperature before serving. Makes about 4-6 servings, depending on your slice size.
Here’s an overhead view of the cake, for a complete view of the flowers: