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Esther's Orange-Marmalade Layer Cake

A recipe inspired by the novels of author Jan Karon.


  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) softened unsalted butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten lightly
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

Orange Syrup:

  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar


  • 1 cup orange marmalade


  • 3/4 cup well-chilled heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 cup well-chilled sour cream

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter two 9-inch-round cake pans, line with parchment or waxed paper, and butter and flour paper, shaking out excess.

In a bowl, sift the flour, baking soda and salt.

In a bowl with an electric mixer, beat butter until combined, add sugar, a little at a time, and beat mixture until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, orange zest and vanilla. Beat in a third of dry ingredients alternately with half of buttermilk until combined well. Add half remaining dry ingredients and remaining buttermilk and beat until combined well. Finally, beat in remaining dry ingredients until mixture is smooth.

Evenly divide the batter between the pans, smooth the surface, rap each pan on the counter to expel any air pockets or bubbles, then transfer to the oven. Bake for 45 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to racks and cool in the pans for 20 minutes.

Orange Syrup: In a bowl, stir together orange juice and sugar until sugar is dissolved.

With a toothpick or wooden skewer, poke holes at 1/2-inch intervals in the cake layers and spoon the syrup over each layer, allowing the syrup to be completely absorbed before adding the remaining. Let layers cool completely, then remove from the baking pans.

Filling: In a small saucepan set over moderate heat, heat the marmalade until just melted. Let cool 5 minutes.

Frosting: In a bowl, whisk the heavy cream with the sugar until it forms firm peaks. Add the sour cream, a little at a time, and whisk until of spreading consistency.

To assemble: Arrange one of the layers on a cake plate, carefully peel off the waxed paper, then spread two-thirds of the marmalade over the top, smoothing it into an even layer. Invert the remaining layer onto the top of the first layer, peel off the waxed paper and spoon the remaining marmalade onto the center of it, leaving a 1 1/4-inch border around the edge. Frost the sides and top of border with the frosting, leaving the marmalade on top of cake exposed.

Or if you prefer, frost the entire cake, adding marmalade as a garnish on top. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Makes 1 cake, 10 to 12 servings.


Thursday, August 22, 2002

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