Orange Sherbet Frosting AND Nearly Pound Cake

dsc_0190RECIPE #408 & 409, DAY #575


ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Classic Buttercream,” and “Golden Butter Cream Cake,” from Rose Levy Bernabaum’s The Cake Bible*

TIMING: 45 minutes for the cake, 45 minutes for the frosting, plus cooling time for each

DIFFICULTY: The frosting begs some experience

TOOLS: Stand mixer, small heavy sauce pan, candy thermometer, cake pan, etc.

COOK TYPE: Stovetop and oven

HEALTH: It’s cake. And this cake and frosting have more butter than any I’ve ever seen or tasted, but not as much sugar as many. The extreme butter is one of the reasons I would never put this cake with this frosting again. dsc_0188

EXPERIENCE: My son wanted an orange cake for his birthday, but in color and taste. Feeling in a particularly lazy mood, I just looked up vanilla cake and orange frosting in my spreadsheet and continued on. In future, I should plan to go a little more exciting than this work-a-day, homemade-looking cake. For my son’s birthday.

But the frosting that I concocted tasted like melted orange sherbet, which was intriguing to me and addicting to some. (And the pure butteriness of it was a turn-off to others.) It was also a dream to work with. The cake, also, was nice. It just didn’t belong under a buttercream. The cake would be better with a glaze or a ganache, along with some fruit. The frosting? On a tall, layered, airy birthday cake with some sort of super-impressive garnish and decoration.

NOTES: This frosting does not need to appear orange. Garnished with some glazed orange segments and some orange-colored decorations, you could just leave it white. But if you want the color to reflect the taste, orange food coloring is needed.

For a more creamsicle taste in the frosting, add 1 teaspoon vanilla, as well.

You don’t have to use Pyrex brand, but you want glassware which will not break when exposed quickly to extreme temperatures.

Your sugar will stall out at 220F. It always does this. Just keep going, and eventually–once the water has evaporated–the temperature will again begin to climb.

In baking, the devil is in the details. Pay close attention and care.

This makes a small cake.



  1. Grease a small Pyrex measuring cup and set it next to the stove.
  2. Beat 6 egg yolks in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, until pale yellow.
  3. In a small-medium heavy-bottomed sauce pan (I always use Le Creusset for candy making), heat 1 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup water over medium heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until it begins to simmer.
  4. Stop stirring and don’t touch again (just adjust heat as necessary to keep it from overflowing). Keep cooking until it has come to 238F.
  5. Immediately turn off the heat and pour the syrup into the Pyrex. Now, pour a few tablespoons of the syrup into the egg yolks without getting it on the beaters. Beat for 5 seconds. Do this over and over until all the syrup is incorporated into the yolks. Scrape down the sides of your bowl, then turn the beater on medium and beat until frosting has cooled. (Feel the exterior of the bowl.)
  6. Beat in 2 cups softened unsalted butter, a few tablespoons at a time. Beat in 2 tablespoons melted orange juice concentrate (or juice, in a pinch), 1 tablespoon orange zest, and 1 teaspoon natural orange flavor.
  7. Let the frosting come to room temperature before using.



  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Prepare a springform pan by greasing, fitting with parchment, greasing again, and lightly flouring. Set aside.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together 3 egg yolks, 2 tablespoons cream, and 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract. Set aside.
  4. In your stand mixer, place 1 1/2 cups cake flour, 3/4 cups granulated sugar, 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Mix on low just to combine.
  5. Add 6 tablespoons cream and 10 1/2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter. Beat on low until incorporated, then 1 1/2 minutes on medium speed. Add in 1/3rd of the yolk mixture and beat for 20 seconds. Do this 2 more times until yolks are all in.
  6. Scrape the batter into your springform pan and smooth out flat and even. Bake for 30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pan and allowing to cool completely on a cooling rack before glazing or decorating.


Serve the frosting on top of an airy, layered birthday cake, with glazed orange segments and orange decorations. Serve the pound cake covered with a glaze or ganache and some appropriate fruit.

LEFTOVER IDEAS: This is really nice thrown into 1 bowl in the fridge and then eaten cool the next day, like a salad. I just chopped up the veggies with the side of my spoon.

*Recipe changed from the original.



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