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  • My Father’s Favorite Orange Cake

    My Father’s Favorite Orange Cake

    As kids we loved it when my father wanted to eat something sweet because it sort of brought him down to our level. Like, wow, he's just a kid too. Perversely, being authentic to my family’s tradition and my father’s favorite cake means using a box cake mix! It may seem like cheating to some, but once you taste this cake, all qualms are eased. My mother always doctored the box instructions by using orange juice and orange zest instead of milk. My further changes are to use olive oil in place of the vegetable oil and increase the amount of frosting—there never seemed to be quite enough when I was a kid. I like to garnish the cake with fresh berries in season or slices of orange or tangerine or Clementine during the winter months.

    Servings & Time

    • Servings 8 to 12 servings
    • Prep 15 minutes, plus frosting the cake
    • Cook 30 to 35 minutes


    For the Cake
    • Softened butter, for the pans
    • All-purpose flour, for the pans
    • 16 ounces package organic vanilla or yellow cake mix
    • 3 large eggs
    • Grated zest of ½ orange
    • ⅔ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from about 2 medium oranges)
    • ½ cup olive oil
    For the Frosting
    • ½ pound (2 sticks) salted Irish or Vermont butter, softened at room temperature
    • Grated zest of 1 orange
    • 2 large egg yolks
    • 4 cups confectioners sugar


    For the Cake

    Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 8-inch round cake pans.

    In a large bowl with an electric mixer on low, blend the cake mix, eggs, orange zest and juice, and olive oil until incorporated. Turn the speed to medium high and beat for 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

    Divide the batter between the two prepared pans. Bake in the middle of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the layers comes out clean. Let the layers cool in the pans on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then invert the layers onto the rack and let cool completely before frosting.

    For the Frosting

    While the layers are cooling, in a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter until very smooth. Add the orange zest and egg yolks and beat 1 minute. Turn mixer down to low and add the sugar in three batches, combining thoroughly with the butter after each addition.

    To frost the cake, place one layer on a cake plate or piece of parchment, domed side up. With a small offset spatula or knife, spread about ½ cup of the frosting on the top.

    Place the second layer on top, domed side down.

    Frost the side of the cake.

    Then finish the top.

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