I’m delighted to see that there are a few signs of spring showing. But before my mind races to rhubarb and frilly herbs and sweet green peas, and peppery radishes, and sweet asparagus, and and and…. I have yet another blood orange recipe for you.
It was never my intention to tease you with this recipe for so long but I’m still adjusting to life after opening a shop. It’s not unlike readjusting to life after you add child and then another and then another to your family. Although I am happy to report that I am getting a full night’s sleep.
Let’s jump right to the recipe before blood oranges are out of season. There was no particular purpose for this cake except that some days the craving for cake is strong and my desire to coat a bittersweet chocolate cake with a blush toned buttercream flavored with the floral notes of blood orange sent me dashing into the kitchen to preheat the oven.
My other nudge towards cake came when I saw Stella Parks from Bravetart fame post about her quick and easy Devil’s Food cake. The image touted the texture which looked delightfully dense yet springy and oh so very dark with cocoa AND dark chocolate. Ever since finding Regan Daley’s recipe for chocolate cake from her book, In the Sweet Kitchen, I never found the need for another chocolate cake. But Stella’s recipe has earned its keep.
The color and flavor from the buttercream comes from a reduction of blood orange juice. It simmers gently until reduced to the consistency of warm honey. It’s enough to add a bright floral fragrance to the frosting but not enough to interfere with the silken texture of an all butter buttercream. What doesn’t get added to the frosting slips across the cake layers so the flavor of blood oranges will remind us that winter has its perks.
If you like to gild the lily then I’ve provided the instructions for candied blood orange peel. They are equally welcomed on top of this cake or presented in a bowl alongside coffee or tea at the end of a long meal. My cake also has a bit of candied rosemary which I prepare in the same way as the orange. Just skip the initial blanching and jump right into simmering in the simple syrup.
Devil's Food Cake with Blood Orange Buttercream
Yield 10 - 12 Servings
Devil's Food Cake
Blood Orange Buttercream
1 cup Blood Orange juice (from 5 - 7 oranges)
6 large egg whites
1 2/3 cup sugar
5 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon blood orange zest
2 blood oranges
1 cup water
3 cups sugar, divided
For the cake:
Follow the Stella Parks recipe on Serious Eats or use any of your favorite chocolate cake recipes.
For the buttercream:
Add the blood orange juice to a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, reduce to low then simmer until 1/3 cup remains. Let this cool.
In the bowl of a stand mixer add the egg whites and sugar.
Set this over simmering water. The base should not touch the water, instead you want the steam to warm the egg whites and dissolve the sugar.
Whisk the eggs whites and sugar while warming. Every so often feel the temperature of the egg whites. They should feel warm and the sugar should be dissolved.
Transfer the egg white mixture to the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and begin to whip on low. Increase the speed as the egg whites froth. Whip until thick, billowing meringue forms.
Add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Every time I make buttercream I have a minor panic moment fearing that the frosting will never come together. Eventually it does. It may take some time.
Once the buttercream is smooth and glossy turn the mixer down to low then stir in 1/4 cup of the cooled reduced blood orange juice. Stir in the zest and salt.
For the blood Orangettes:
Using a paring knife, remove the peel from the oranges. Carefully remove the pith so only the outer peel remains.
Slice the peels into rough 1/4-inch wide strips.
Bring a saucepan of water to boil then add the orange peels to the pot. Simmer for 30 seconds. Drain then run the peels under cold water.
Repeat this process 2 to 3 more times. This removes some of the unpleasant bitterness from the peel.
Add the water and 2 cups sugar to the saucepan then bring to a simmer. Add the orange peels then let this mixture simmer for about 45 minutes or until the peels look translucent.
Add the remaining 1 cup sugar to a large bowl.
Carefully remove the candied peels from the syrup then add them to the bowl of sugar. Gently toss or stir to completely coat the peels in sugar.
Transfer the peels to a fine wire rack to dry for a couple of hours.
Assemble the cake:
Brush the cake layers with the remaining blood orange reduction. Frost the cake then garnish with the candied blood orange peel.