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Chasing Delicious | Orange Cake w/ Italian Meringue Frosting
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Orange Almond Chiffon Cake (small)

Orange Cake w/ Italian Meringue Frosting

The painful chant of an alarm clock beckons. Tired eyes struggle to adjust to the barely lit room. Small beams of gold and blue morning light peak through poorly closed blinds. Familiar objects across the room barely glisten; long shadows hang around hoping to hold the night’s darkness close by.

Steam begins to pour out of the small room to which drowsy legs somehow carried me. I hop behind the dark red curtain, hiding my shower, to escape the painful cold, which fills the house. Poking and massaging streams of heat slowly wake me up.

Clothed and awake, I sledge out to my car, reflectors under one arm, tripods under the other. A backpack with scripts, schedules and shot lists hang near slipping tripods; a camera bag hangs on another shoulder. With a beep I unlock the car and contemplate how I’m going to open the door.

Outside one of Houston’s largest farmers market I meet up with my business partner. An already marked and scribbled on schedule clipped to a rigid board tells us we’ll be busy filming all day. B-roll of shoppers perusing the selections, clips of fruit and vegetables stacked neatly in bins and baskets, carefully constructed shots of experienced hands preparing their stand will fill parts of the days. The rest will be scouting, negotiating, preparing, setting up, manipulating light, and taking everything down, only to start all over mere feet away.

A busy day assures both of us we will most likely be ignoring our second true love (food) for our first (film). Despite being surrounded by an endless flood of food, our attention focuses elsewhere and we knock out shot after shot. A few chorizo breakfast tacos from a taco truck parked near by sneak their way into our hands though. Then some pastries from a Mexican bakery across the street manage to capture our attention too.

The day continues and we find ourselves more captivated with food than we expected. Hours away from the end of the day and we notice a small problem. Homemade shopping bags, mere props, are suddenly engorged. Somehow we’ve managed to spend the day shopping, collecting fruits and vegetables, chiles and spices.  Thank you’s to stall keepers turned into an excuse to buy a few things from them, a sort of capitalist-inspired thank you.

Another morning and I soon find myself in a kitchen swimming in oranges. How am I going to use up all this delicious citrus? It doesn’t take long for my hungry mind to think about cake.

This light, moist cake is filled with orange flavor. The orange lemon filling adds a delightfully tart layer while the italian meringue pulls it all together with a smooth, melt in your mouth sweet bite. I love playing with textures in food and the combination of a soft chew from the cake and the almost nonexistent, airiness of the meringue play off of each other wonderfully.

Assembly: To assemble this cake, spread the filling on top of the first layer of chiffon. Add the second chiffon on top. Then spread the meringue on the cake using an icing spatula just like you would spread buttercream. Once frosted you can leave the cake as is, or you can use a kitchen torch to give the came a browned, torched look as I’ve done in these photos. That is as easy as turning the torch on low and carefully applying heat where you want to brown the meringue. Don’t leave the torch in one place too long or you might blacken the meringue.

Egg Whites: This recipe calls for whipping egg whites twice. First, it is used in the chiffon cake to add air, essentially doing the job of a leavening agent. A little sugar is added to the egg whites as they whip to give the egg whites structure; you want to add sugar slowly to egg whites though otherwise the sugar can actually impede the whites from forming stiff peaks. When whipping egg whites like this you must work quickly as they begin to deflate as soon as you finish whipping. Once you fold the whites into the batter, it must be baked right away.

Second, it is used in creating an italian meringue frosting. Italian meringue differs from typical meringue in that sugar boiled to the soft ball stage is added to the whipping egg whites still hot. This is done for two reasons. First, the hot sugar essentially cooks the egg whites (pasteurizing them, making them safe to eat raw). Second, the boiled sugar, when cooled, will form a more rigid structure within the egg whites compared to granulated sugar alone. This allows italian meringue to be used on cakes, in fillings, and with other pastries that won’t be baked and will need tp sit for a couple days. Because of this, italian meringue does not require the urgency typical meringue or whipped egg whites do.

While the cakes are cooling, you can prepare the filling and the italian meringue. Because italian meringue does not deflate like a typical meringue, you can make it in advance (on the same day).

Because the boiled sugar has to be added at a particular temperature, you will need a candy thermometer or a basic understanding of what sugar boiled to the soft ball stage looks like. You will also need a stand mixer as italian meringue requires you to begin whipping the egg whites while the sugar is boiling. It also requires constant whipping at high speed while the mixture cools, which can take up to 20 minutes. You should not substitute another type of meringue for the frosting in this recipe.

Enjoy!

AUTHOR - Russell van Kraayenburg

Born and raised in Texas, Russell van Kraayenburg may sit you down for a stern lecture if you confuse barbecue with grilling. Creator of Chasing Delicious, and author of Haute Dogs, his work has been featured in Southern Living magazine and on such sites as Lifehacker, Fast Co. Design, Business Insider, The Kitchn, Live Originally, The Daily What, Quipsologies, Neatorama,Explore, and Fine Cooking.

50 Comments

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  • kitchenriffs

    You made this cake just for me! I love meringue. Combine it with anything citrus, and I’m living large. Good, detailed instructions. I don’t whip egg whites much so I always rely on a little acid (usually cream of tartar) to help stabilize the egg whites, but if you’re careful it’s really not necessary. Great recipe, and I really like the bottom photo. Thanks for this.

  • Mary

    What an ethereal lookin cake. I’ll wager it is really delicious. This is my first visit to your blog, so I took some time to browse through your earlier posts. I’m so glad I did that. I really like the food and recipes you share with your readers and I’ll definitely be back. I hope youhave a great day. Blessings…Mary

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food

    What a marvelous job you did. You know how much I want a slice… so I want whine anymore about it. But, really, you have me drooling over this one.

  • Priscilla M

    I will come with my own plate and fork! Looks amazing. Feel like reaching into the screen and grab some!

  • Jessica

    GORGEOUS! I want 3 slices for breakfast please! :-D

  • Evan Thomas

    Of course this looks amazing. I would want to eat the whole thing in a day. it almost makes me want to try whipping egg whites even though that’s usually a disaster for me.

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

    This cake is absolutely lovely!

  • Jackie @ Domestic Fits

    Seriously, SERIOUSLY, how is it possible that you are not a best selling author? Your post are always s beautiful, I want to curl up with a glass of wine and whole book full of them.

  • Kathryn

    You always make the absolute prettiest cakes in the world!

  • thelittleloaf

    The toasted frosting on this cake looks amazing! I’ve only ever toasted meringue for pies but love the idea of using it on a cake and can imagine it works wonderfully with the citrus flavour. Plus I love any excuse to use my little kitchen blowtorch!

  • ohkeeka [The Type A Housewife]

    Meringue and cake–two things that I’ve never excelled at making (perhaps I should try Italian meringue?). I’ll just live vicariously through you and enjoy your beautiful photographs. This sounds lovely!

  • Magic of Spice

    We have similar shopping habits :) I however could not pull off this stunning cake with my loot…Gorgeous!

  • Katie

    Now that’s what I call a cake. Wow!

  • Shumaila

    The cake looks so inviting! I am done with dinner and really could do with a slice of it now!

  • Leanne @ Healthful Pursuit

    You’re such a beautiful writer, Russell! I love your photos, story, and of course, this recipe!

  • Jon

    Great post! Loved reading about your farmer’s market day, filled with food, food and more food. And guess what, you finished with even more food! Cake sounds and looks amazing, I want some!!! Favorite shot of the post, is Numero Cinco ; )

  • Elies_Lie

    Since school is start and lot’s of homemork and other to do with the kids, been a while I’m not knocking at ur blog-door-bell and missing a lot to see pic of food and ur story, please forgive me Russel :)
    actually I been searching for some snack or cake to give to my friend, they have a birthday, yes I mean they > 2 of them!
    so yes I need a help from u, ur blog post I mean :D
    and this is… oh! I just want to grap my whole plate from the computer! Haha ha!
    Tq for sharing this Russel! as always I will said… Stunning Cake! ;)

  • Amy at Gastronome Tart

    I have never had a meringue as a frosting on a cake before. It looks delicious and probably tastes even better!

  • Amy (Minimally Invasive)

    My mouth is watering just looking at this lovely cake. I’ve all but given up on Italian meringues after a couple of disasters with them, but this makes me want to try again.

  • Kaitlin

    Italian Meringue is such a nice change from buttercream – especially for a citrus cake like this. I love that you included lemon juice in the filling as well as orange!

    Also, I totally see how you ended up with so many oranges now! I would have done the same thing if I was filming at a farmer’s market all day. Good luck finding a use for the rest!

  • Vanessa

    Gorgeous as always!

  • Mi Vida en un Dulce

    Finally a cake that is not frosted with buttercream…I love you…it’s just that I cannot deal with buttercream as I have problems with butter. Use Italian Meringue is perfect for me.

  • nicole {sweet peony}

    this cake is gorgeous!!! i’m in a citrus mood right now & this would be perfect! love it :)

  • Terra

    What a gorgeous and moist cake! I bet it is so packed with delicious flavors:-) Take care, Terra

  • Lisa {AuthenticSuburbanGourmet}

    What a simply stunning cake! Looks super tasty and your photos are wonderful.

  • Elies_Lie

    Like I said yesterday, this is a stunning dessert!
    Congratz on the foodbuzz Top9 today Russel! ;)

  • Liz

    Just stunning!!! Lovely cake, filling and meringue topping…perfect~

  • Lora

    It was lovely to find your gorgeous cake through Ken on Twitter last night. I still want a slice:) Cant wait to see what else you create on your beautiful blog. Congrats on Top 9:)

  • Kiri W.

    Wow, that’s an amazing meringue shell! How does it hold up/is the storing a problem?
    Looks fantastic, and the flavors sound amazing. I can never resist almonds :)

  • RavieNomNoms

    Congrats on the Top 9! Well deserved as always!

    You are such a gifted writer. I always love reading your posts. Almost like I am reading a novel and I am on the 100th page, you make it so easy to read.

    Your cake looks absolutely amazing and totally breathtaking!

  • spiceblogger

    Seriously Beautiful :)
    And I bet it’s super YUMMY!

  • Suzanne

    Beautiful cake, I bet it was delicious too. Your photos make me drool. Congrats on the top 9!

  • Daisy@Nevertoosweet

    YUMMY :) I love orange cakes ~ i’ve made an orange and almond cake before but I’ve never thought of covering it over an italian meringue so delicious! :D

  • alyce culinary thymes

    I know that FM! Beautiful cake.

  • Michael

    I must be hearing your thoughts. I am working on a citrus pistachio cake as I write this!!! Lovely cake. Michael

  • Lora

    Is is wrong thatI want to take a big fat swan dive right into this luscious cake?

  • zenchef

    That is the cake I WANT for my birthday!
    Where do I place the order? :)

  • Betsy

    I am drooling over the citrusy thought of this cake. So perfect this time of year! We just launched our online Seasonal Potluck and February is Oranges month! If you’d like to link up your recipe, we’d love to have you! http://bit.ly/zDoNfx

  • Katherine Martinelli

    Sounds like an incredible day! And this cake looks like the perfect way to put citrus to good use. Just gorgeous. Congrats on Top 9!

  • Maureen

    How deliciously beautiful!!

  • Roxana GreenGirl { A little bit of everything}

    with every word I read I could see myself at the Huston farmers market watching you taking shot after shot.
    You’re a talented writer, photographer and of course, baker!

  • Jen Laceda

    stunning cake! so is your writing!

  • Shannon

    Almond and orange is one of my favorite flavor combinations, just shy of orange and hazelnut. This cake is so lovely!

  • Chelsea

    This cake looks absolutely gorgeous!

  • Stefanie

    I would never in a million years make this cake for myself – I’m just not into almonds and oranges together in a cake – but I made it tonight for my grandma’s 70th birthday tomorrow and it turned out great. The meringue was a bit of a challenge, given that I was working with a hand mixer in an unfamiliar kitchen, but I grabbed a helper and it was no big deal. There was quite a bit of leftover meringue, though, so I’m trying to figure out something to do with it – maybe some chocolate sandwich cookies if I hurry :)

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  • Helena {Rico sin Azúcar}

    Absolutely delicious: love the effect of the Italian meringue on top of the cake.
    I’ve read all the steps as if it was an intrigue novel, hahaha. So perfectly explained: thank you!

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