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Orange Butter Cake with Cranberry Curd
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5 from 11 votes

Orange Butter Cake with Cranberry Curd

I love this delicious combination of orange and cranberry. There is just enough orange zest to create a subtle orange flavor and the tartness of the cranberry curd goes perfectly with the sweet cake.
Prep Time40 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Cooling Time4 hrs
Total Time5 hrs 40 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 955kcal


Cranberry Curd

  • 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 1/4 cup (250 grams) white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 (100grams) whole eggs
  • 2 (40 grams) egg yolks
  • 8 tablespoons (113 grams) unsalted butter room temperature

Cake Pan Release

  • 1 tablespoon (14 grams) unsalted butter melted
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Orange Cake

  • 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
  • Orange zest from 1 large orange about 1 tablespoon
  • 3 cups (342 grams) cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 16 tablespoons (227 grams) unsalted butter room temperature 65-70 degrees F
  • 5 (250 grams) large eggs room temperature

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • 4 (120 grams) large egg whites
  • 1 cup (200 grams) white granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups (454 grams) unsalted butter room temperature 68-70 degrees F
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste


For the Cranberry Curd

  • You needn't thaw the cranberries for this recipe.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the whole eggs and egg yolks. Place a bowl with a medium-coarse strainer next to the stove.
  • Place the cranberries, sugar, water, and salt in a medium saucepan. Zest the orange directly into the saucepan. Juice the orange and add 1/4 cup of orange juice to the saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat, mashing occasionally with a potato masher until cranberries have mostly broken down and mixture measures about 1 1/2 cups, 10 to 12 minutes. Strain cranberry mixture through a medium-coarse strainer into a bowl, pressing on solids with a rubber spatula to extract as much puree as possible.
  • Whisk eggs and yolks into cranberry mixture in the bowl. Return the mixture to the saucepan. Place a clean bowl with a fine mesh strainer near the cooktop. Cook the cranberry mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is thickened and registers 175 degrees in multiple spots, 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Off heat, stir in butter 2 tablespoons at a time until incorporated. Strain the cranberry mixture through the fine-mesh strainer. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto surface of curd and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. (Curd can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)

Cake Pan Release

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl stir the melted butter and the flour together until it forms a paste. With a pastry brush, coat the sides and bottoms of 3 8-inch cake pans with the paste. Line the bottoms with parchment paper.

For the Orange Cake

  • Crack the eggs into a small bowl and whisk.
  • Put the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Zest the orange directly onto the sugar. Use your fingers to rub the zest and the sugar together until it is well combined, and your kitchen smells like orange. Juice the orange until you have 1/4 cup of fresh juice. In a 2-cup measuring cup combine the milk and the orange juice and whisk to combine.
  • Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt to the sugar-orange zest mixture and with the paddle attachment mix the dry ingredients together on low speed for 30 seconds.
  • Add the butter and milk-orange mixture to the dry ingredients. Start on low speed to combine the ingredients and once combined, increase the speed to medium and mix for 90 seconds. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  • Add the beaten eggs in three additions, mixing on medium speed after each addition until the eggs are well combined. After mixing in the last of the eggs, scrape the side and bottoms of the bowl and mix for another 20 seconds to ensure the batter is well mixed.
  • Divide the batter into the cake pans, about 500 grams into each pan. Smooth the top of the batter with an offset spatula.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick or cake tester is inserted in the center and comes out clean and the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.
  • Remove the cakes from the oven and cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Invert the cakes onto a cake rack covered with parchment paper or wax paper and allow to cool completely before adding the filling and frosting.

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • For the Swiss meringue buttercream the butter should be at room temperature, between 68 and 70 degrees F. If it is too warm the buttercream will not set up properly and it will be somewhat runny. If it's too cold the buttercream will not incorporate into the egg whites.
  • Boil water in a saucepan large enough for your mixing bowl to sit on top and then reduce the water to a simmer. Place the eggs whites, sugar, and salt into the mixing bowl, place it over the simmering water bath and whisk continuously until the temperature reaches 170 degrees F. Remove the bowl from the water bath and using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer beat the meringue on high speed until it is increased in volume and is shiny and cool to the touch.
  • Reduce the mixer speed to medium and add butter two tablespoons at a time until the buttercream is soft, thick and creamy. At one point it will look a little curdled, but continue to beat it and it will become creamy. Add the vanilla bean paste and beat on medium speed until the vanilla is thoroughly mixed into the buttercream.

Assemble the Cake

  • If the cake layers have domed use a serrated knife to level the cake layers. Use your fingers or a pastry brush to brush away any loose cake crumbs. Place one layer on a cake board or plate. Create a dam by piping a ring of buttercream around the edge of the cake layer. Frost the bottom layer with buttercream and then fill the center with the cranberry curd, about 1/2 cup. Repeat with the second layer and top with the final layer.
  • Crumb coat the sides and top of the cake with a thin layer of buttercream. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Coat the sides with a thin layer of buttercream, so you can still see the sides of the cake. Evenly spread about 1 cup of buttercream on top of the cake.


The tartness of cranberries can vary.  After the cranberries have initially cooked taste the mixture and add more sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, to adjust the sweetness if it is too tart.  Cook for a three more minutes, stir constantly to dissolve the sugar.


Calories: 955kcal | Carbohydrates: 100g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 59g | Saturated Fat: 36g | Cholesterol: 274mg | Sodium: 326mg | Potassium: 172mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 75g | Vitamin A: 1927IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 64mg | Iron: 1mg