I bake on a weekly basis, usually something quick and easy to satisfy my sweet tooth. But when there is something to celebrate, like a birthday or anniversary, I love making fancy layer cakes.
Special occasions deserve special cakes, like the Dark Chocolate Orange Layer cake I made for my uncle's birthday. Alternating layers of made-from-scratch dark chocolate cake, soaked with rum and rich orange buttercream made this cake extra special.
Dark Chocolate Orange Layer Cake
1 cup dark cocoa powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups sugar (I used Imperial)
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups hot water
Preheat oven to 350. Butter the bottom and sides of two 9 inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper and butter the paper. Dust the pans with some cocoa and tap out extra.
Sift cocoa, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar into a boil of a stand mixer.. Add in oil, buttermilk and vanilla. Mix to incorporate. Add eggs one at a time. Add hot water and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.
Pour the batter into the pans and bake 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean. Rotate the pans half way through the baking time. Do not overbake
For the Syrup
juice & zest from one orange
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon dark rum
Combine orange juice, orange zest and sugar in a small pot. Cook on medium heat until sugar is dissolved and some of the juice has evaporated. Remove from heat and stir in the rum. Let it cool a bit before moistening the cake layers.
For the Orange Buttercream
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
3 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
Juice from one orange
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons heavy cream
Cream butter in a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Add powdered sugar. Mix on the lowest speed until the sugar is absorbed by the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, orange juice and cream and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add a little more sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add additional cream 1 tablespoon at a time.
To assemble the cake
Place one cake layer top side up on a serving platter. Use a long serrated knife to cut the top so that it is flat and even. Soak cake layer with half of the syrup. Spread a little over a cup of buttercream on top. Add the remaining cake layer and trim the top again. Soak with syrup. Spread that layer with the rest of the buttercream.