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Celebrate spring with citrus cake

Recipe: One-bowl preparation for a delicious treat

Orange flowers on cake
Orange blossoms and leaves make a fragrant
garnish for the orange cake. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)

With just two of us in the house, I don't bake a lot of cakes these days. But celebrations call for cake, and spring brings family birthdays, Easter and other holidays. Spring also brings everything bursting into bloom in the garden, including my navel orange tree. And I still have oranges from that tree,  harvested and needing to be used.

This cake from's Genius Recipes demanded to be made this week. No creaming of butter, no time-consuming blending of one egg at a time, wow. I cut the recipe in half, with one or two exceptions (noted). But instead of baking one 8-inch layer, I pulled out my 6-inch cake pans and baked two small layers, the better to emulate the original.

Author Yasmin Khan extolls Cyprus' many citrus crops -- hmm, sounds familiar! -- and says any citrus can be used in the cake. I followed the orange-with-lemon original ingredients but would love to make a blood orange/tangerine version at some point. Wouldn't a pink citrus cake be perfect for one of the celebratory days coming up?

Note: Both the butter in the cake and the cream cheese in the frosting blend better when very soft. But don't melt them in the microwave! Leave them out at room temperature long enough before baking. And choose a natural cream cheese if possible; the cream cheese I used was a bit gummy, making me regret that particular purchase. But it tasted delicious.

Homegrown citrus has the advantage of no wax
and (we hope) no pesticides.

Citrus Cake

Makes 4 servings; easily doubled


For the cake:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, allowed to soften, plus more for the pan

1 scant cup unbleached all-purpose flour (scant = 1 cup with 3 teaspoons removed)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten

1-3/4 teaspoons baking powder

3/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2  tablespoons whole-milk plain yogurt

1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons finely grated orange peel

1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

For the frosting:

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

6 ounces full-fat (brick) cream cheese (natural, if possible)

Cake pans
Trace the cake pan on the parchment to get a perfect

2 tablespoons whole-milk plain yogurt

1/2 tablespoon fresh orange juice

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons or more lemon and/or orange zest, optional

For garnish:

Orange and lemon zest or strings of citrus peel

Washed and dried orange blossoms and leaves, optional


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare the pan or pans: Butter an 8-inch cake pan or two 6-inch round cake pans, and then line with rounds of parchment paper.

Put all the cake ingredients into a large bowl. Beat until the flour is incorporated and the mixture is mostly smooth. (This is a more rustic cake, so don't worry about small lumps.)

Pour the batter into the pan or pans. (Divide the batter evenly between the pans if using two.) Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.

Cake layers on rack
Allow the layers to cool before frosting.

Remove pans from the oven and let them cool on a rack for 5 minutes. Then remove the cake from the pans and allow to cool thoroughly.

While the cake is baking, make the frosting by beating all the ingredients together until smooth. This is a soft frosting, but I upped the confectioners' sugar a bit because the original seemed too soft. Pop the bowl into the refrigerator to firm the frosting up a bit while the cake is cooling.

I would wait to frost this cake until a short time before serving, but preparing the garnish ahead is a good idea.

To frost: Put one layer on the serving plate, and spoon a large mound of frosting on top. Place the second cake layer on top, pushing down lightly so the frosting just starts to spill over the edge. Mound the remaining frosting on top of the second layer, spreading it out and allowing some of it to also spill over the sides. Smooth all over, or just leave as is, as desired.

Add optional garnish and serve and celebrate!


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A recipe for preparing delicious meals from the bounty of the garden.


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Taste Spring! E-cookbook


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Dig In: Garden Checklist for week of April 7

The warm wave coming this week will shift weeds into overdrive. Get to work!

* Weed, weed, weed! Whack them before they flower.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden is really hungry. Feed shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash. Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias. Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom. April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce and cabbage seedlings.

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