I’ve wanted to make a golden ginger cake forever and I finally have! I love deeply spiced, dark, and heady gingerbread a lot (see this Gingerbread Cake with Lemon Ginger Cloud Frosting) but somewhere along the way I wanted to make a cake that was lighter and spiced with just fresh ginger. Plus, I think “Golden Ginger & Orange Cake” just sounds so festive!
This cake is based off my one of my favorite buttermilk cakes with the addition of loads of fresh ginger, orange zest, and treacly golden syrup. The result is a tender cake with a very fine crumb–almost like a pound cake, but lighter in texture. There’s a thin layer of bittersweet orange marmalade between the four layers that offsets the sweetness of the classic, tangy cream cheese frosting. The candied oranges on top of this cake are so pretty and they taste amazing too. I used Laura’s recipe for candying these and it worked wonderfully. I actually made a batch using satsumas, but they ended up too thick (those suckers are hard to slice thinly!) so we just ate them. They taste like if those orange slice gummies were actually delicious.
Some notes on layer cake making since I know it can seem intimidating! I don’t do a ton of layer cake making these days, but when I do, I follow these basics.
I like to thoroughly chill the layers before doing any slicing. It can totally be done with just the cooled, room temp layers, but I think chilling makes them easier to handle. I also like to chill the cake after filling it, before icing it. Sometimes I do a crumb coat (a thin layer of frosting to catch the crumbs that’s chilled before frosting the cake in a thicker layer), sometimes I don’t. It depends on the look I’m going for. I didn’t with this cake, so there are some thin spots and a few crumbs, but I felt okay about it.
I use a cake turntable to ice my cakes, it makes life so much easier! Especially since I can be a little obsessive and keep turning the cake and frosting it just-so for what seems like days. It’s actually an inexpensive plastic Wilton one that I got years ago. It works great for my purposes, but if I made more cakes that were much heavier and larger, I’d spring for a professional one like this Ateco version which is what we used when I worked as a baker.
I also think a small offset spatula is invaluable–for so many things besides cake icing! I seriously use this thing all the time. There are larger ones, but I prefer a small one for most things.
- 2 large eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 1¾ cup cake flour
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2¼ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened
- ½ cup golden syrup
- cream cheese frosting:
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened
- 3 cups confectioners sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon cream
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- about ¼ cup orange marmalade
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottoms of two 6-inch round cake pans with parchment paper circles and spray each pan well with cooking spray.
- In a small bowl whisk the eggs, yolk and vanilla extract. Set it to the side.
- In a measuring cup whisk the buttermilk, ginger, and orange zest together.
- In a mixer or in a mixing bowl with a hand mixer, add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, beat in the butter and the buttermilk mixture. Beat the mixture for about 2 minutes, until very light and fluffy. Beat in the golden syrup. Scrape the bowl and beat in the egg mixture in three additions, scraping the bowl and mixing well after each addition. Divide the batter between the two cake pans and bake in the center of the oven (on the same shelf if you can) for 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cakes. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes before turning out. As the cakes cool they will pull away from the sides of the pan and should turn out easily.
Coolthe cakes completely before slicing in half to make four layers. I actually like to cool then chill the cakes (wrapped in plastic) in the refrigerator before slicing into layers.
- To make the frosting beat the butter and cream cheese in a bowl until smooth and creamy. Add the confectioners sugar one cup at a time, beating well after each addition, followed by the vanilla and cream.
- Spoon about ¼ cup of the frosting into a piping bag or a plastic zipper bag and snip of the end–large enough so you can pipe out the frosting to the diameter about the size of a pencil). Place the first cake layer on a cake stand or plate (if you have a cardboard cake circle, place the cake on the circle first and adhere it to the circle with a little frosting on the bottom of the cake layer) spread a thin layer of frosting over the top of the cake layer–just to barely coat it. Pipe a border around the perimeter of the cake layer with the piping bag. Fill the center of the cake layer with a generous tablespoon of orange marmalade and spread into an even layer. Stack the next layer on top of the first and repeat the process of frosting and filling. Repeat with the third layer. Finally, layer on the fourth layer. At this point I like to chill the cake again for several hours to firm up before spreading the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake. I like to pile most of the frosting on top of the cake and work the icing down and around the sides. Chilling the cake makes it sturdier and easier to frost. Decorate the cake however you like. I used golden sanding sugar, star sprinkles, and candied orange slices (I used Blogging Over Thyme’s recipe for candying the oranges).
- For the best flavor and texture, serve this cake at room temperature. If you have made it in advance and stored it in the refrigerator, just set it out on the counter at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour.
Orange marmalade can be a bit divisive with some people I know. I personally like the bitter sweetness of orange marmalade, especially with the gingery cake and sweet cream cheese frosting. This cake is just as delicious without it!