color me orange

color me orange

Orange — in all its shades — is one of my favorite colors. M, who skews toward earth tones, sighs every time I buy another something to add to my orange collection, be it a piece of clothing or home furnishing. Orange provides a bright cheeriness that suits my mood on certain days. I never dress in orange from head to toe. It’s usually a T-shirt, a belt or . . . OK, sneakers.

When it comes to orange, the fruit, M has the opposite reaction. He’s in total agreement about this fresh, vibrant citrus and always encourages me to serve it up plain or as an ingredient in a dish. I use it in a supporting role to make vinaigrette, salad, sauces, marinades and many other applications.

In my Orange Cake, it’s the star. Orange juice, zest, and oil are packed into the batter to deliver the full punch of the fruit. Zest blended with the sugar boosts the flavor; orange juice moistens the cake, and orange oil adds depth. To further highlight the citrus, I douse a generous amount of bourbon, which intensifies the essence of orange but doesn’t steal the limelight. While you embark on this project, the intoxicating fragrance of the citrus lingers in the air, perfuming every corner of your kitchen.

Resist the temptation to cut into the cake when it comes out of the oven. If you exercise a bit of restraint and wait for 24 hours, your reward will multiply exponentially.

'Color Me' Orange Cake


Orange Cake
  • 2-3/4 cups (11-1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 4 oranges, remove peel with vegetable peeler, reserved. (Careful not to include white pith)
  • 3/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice, from the peeled oranges
  • 2 teaspoons orange extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (14 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 16 tablespoons (8 ounces/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
Orange Bourbon Glaze
  • 8 tablespoons (4 ounces/1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup (4-3/8 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup bourbon or tequila (use orange juice for the kid-friendly version, it will be less fragrant)


Orange Cake

Preheat oven to 350°F and adjust rack to middle position. Spray 12-cup tube pan with cooking spray and dust with flour. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl, set aside. Combine orange juice and extracts in a separate bowl, set aside.

Process 2/3 cups of sugar and orange peel in a food processor until finely ground. Add remaining sugar, butter and process until smooth. With the machine running, add eggs, one at a time; process until light in color. Transfer mixture into a large bowl.

Using a rubber spatula, fold in half of the flour mixture, add orange mixture to combine. Fold in the rest of the flour mixture until just combine. Scrape batter into the prepared tube pan and baked until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes.

Orange Bourbon Glaze

1. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Stir in sugar and bring it to a boil. Immediately remove from stove and stir in bourbon.

2. When cake is done, remove from oven and cool on wire rack for 10 minutes. Using a long wooden skewer, poke several deep holes all over the top of the cake. Slowly spoon some of the glaze over the cake. Let set for a few minutes and repeat until you use up all the glaze. It might seems soggy, but the cake will eventually absorb it all and leave a glossy surface.

3. Allow cake to cool completely in pan for at least 2 hours. Turn the cake out onto a platter, you can serve it now or be good and wait for 24 hours to get an even tastier cake. (Store at room temperature for up to 5 days or longer in the refrigerator.)