Comfort and Joy

Almond and Orange Spice Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

“For it is in giving that we receive.”

Prayer of Saint Francis

Almond and Orange Spice Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Merry Christmas Eve and a very happy first night of Hanukkah!
I have not yet wrapped my gifts nor done all the productive things I needed to do, but OH WELL that is just about how I expect 2016 to come to a close.

All my brothers are in town (though we are all staying apart since none of the four apartments where various fractions of us permanently live in NYC are big enough to fit the whole family), and tonight we’re heading to Brooklyn for Christmas Eve dinner at my grandma’s.
Last night, we all went bowling/drinking/for dinner at Brooklyn Bowl, which was fun. Although I was very salty at how bad at bowling I am, especially after a margarita. Ugh.

Almond and Orange Spice Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Tomorrow, we will exchange a few small gifts, eat some french toast (I kind of want to try making french toast with panettone. Is that frowned upon?!), and probably see a movie.

The past few years, I’ve made cinnamon rolls for Christmas day, but that’s not happening in our current kitchen. I’ve seen them all over Instagram this year though, and I think it’s a sweet tradition. Do you make anything traditional for breakfast? I try to keep it low-key and no-fuss since my family likes to just chill together.

Almond and Orange Spice Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

This layer cake recipe is one of my new go-tos.  It’s more unique than just another vanilla or chocolate cake, and it doesn’t fall prey to the gingerbread trope, either.

It’s an almond and orange spice cake, and it’s really soft and moist from the almond meal.  It’s fragrant with spices and orange zest without being overpowering.  Between the layers, there is alternating apricot jam and orange marmalade, which are just a match made in heaven.  Sweet and fruity, with a hint of bitterness that complements the orange zest in the cake.  The icing is a simple cream cheese frosting with a tiny touch of maple syrup to round out the tanginess.

I decorated my cake with a mound of fruits painted with luster dust and bourbon because I am now officially way too obsessed with this technique. Someone stop me.

It would be just as yum with a few rosemary “trees” or a simple piped border and a dusting of powdered sugar.

Almond and Orange Spice Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

More Christmas cakes!

Last year’s cute Red Velvet Woodland cake.
Also last year: Chocolate Peppermint Cloud Cake
The year before: the insane and super fun Souche de Noël.

Almond and Orange Spice Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Almond and Orange Spice Cake
makes 1 4×6-inch layer cake

ingredients:
for the cake:
4 tablespoons (55 grams) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
zest of 1 orange
2 eggs
1 cup (120 grams) flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (32 grams) almond flour or finely ground almonds
1/2 cup (120 grams) milk

for the frosting:
12 tablespoons (175 grams) unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces (112 grams) cream cheese
12 ounces (330 grams) powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon (5 mL) maple syrup
3-4 tablespoons (45-60 mL) milk or cream

to assemble:
1/4 cup apricot jam
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
strawberries, raspberries, pomegranate arils, kumquats
luster dust, if desired

directions:
Make the cake: preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour 2 6-inch pans.
Place butter, sugar, spices, and zest into a bowl and cream on high speed for 3 full minutes, or until light and fluffy.
Add in the eggs and beat for another 3 minutes.
Scrape the sides of the bowl.
Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and almond flour and stir gently until half mixed in.
Add the milk and beat until the batter is homogeneous, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Portion out the batter into prepared pans and bake for 14-16 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs.
Allow to cool completely; meanwhile, make the frosting.
Beat butter and cream cheese on high speed for 3 minutes, or until doubled in volume and very pale in color.
Add in roughly half of the powdered sugar, the salt, the maple syrup, and 1 tablespoon of milk.
Beat on high speed until the frosting is very fluffy, about 3 more minutes.
Add in the rest of the powdered sugar to taste, along with 2-3 more tablespoons of milk, if needed to make the frosting more spreadable, and whip on high speed until fully incorporated.
The frosting should be spreadable but not loose; add more milk or powdered sugar to thin or thicken as needed.
To assemble, cut each of the layers in half.
Pipe a border of cream cheese frosting around the first layer, then spread 2 tablespoons of apricot jam in the center.
Spread frosting on top of the layer to cover the jam.
Add the second layer and repeat, except use orange marmalade instead of apricot jam.
Repeat with the third layer, using apricot jam again.
Top with the fourth layer and add a thin crumb coat of frosting on the outside of the cake.
Refrigerate the cake for at least 15 minutes to set the crumb coat.
Spread frosting thick on the top layer but thin on the sides to create a semi-naked finish.
Top with fruits dusted with luster dust or other decorations as desired.

20 comments

  1. This is the perfect holiday cake! Merry Christmas Eve!

    1. And a happy New Years to you Amy <3 <3 <3

  2. i love love your christmas cakes! always! definitely obsessed with the idea of an orange and almond flavoured cake??? i’ve never tried that before. happy holidays rachel! Xx

    1. Awww, shucks. Happy new year Thalia!! Here’s to a beautiful 2017 <3 Biggest hugs!

  3. Oh gosh, I gotta make this happen soon. Looks so good!

    1. Thanks so much Felicia! Let me know if you do! x

  4. Stumbled on your site this morning and have enjoyed your lovely cakes and thoughts. Can you tell me more about luster dust? Best sources, colors and things you have learned about using it? THANK YOU! I enjoy making birthday cakes for friends and family and your site is inspiring. Your ideas in cooking and decorating are creative, whimsical and beautiful but also remain within the realm of possibility for the home cook.

    1. Thank you so much Nancy! My favorite luster dusts are by Wilton, primarily because of their availability—you can find them at most craft stores, i.e. Michael’s or A.C. Moore. Alternatively, I have had really good results using the CK Products luster dust in Aztec Gold (available on Amazon). I have learned to use a dropper (or pour EXTREMELY slowly) when adding alcohol to my luster dust, because too much creates a watery mess with very little impact. Other than that, wash your brushes very well after (and have a dedicated brush in the kitchen), and you’ll find it’s not as hard as it may seem! Let me know if that helps. All best xx

  5. Your cake is stunning, but that’s no surprise since all of your cakes are. Love the combination of orange and almond – it’s one of my favorites. Your Christmas seems like it was lovely! <3 We tend to make eggnog pancakes or eggnog waffles for Christmas morning. And the panettone idea seems totally reasonable to me, but then again, I make brioche waffles. 😉

    Bonne année, beautiful Rachel!

    1. OMG, Beeta, need your recipe for eggnog waffles! That sounds utterly divine, mmmm. Hope your January has been splendid! Big hugs

  6. This looks amazing! I’m about to make this for my mum’s 50th birthday, and I was wondering if it makes a difference if I make it a day ahead? Does it keep well? Thank you in advance xx

    PS you’re basically who I want to be when I grow up ahaha

    1. Awww, Sera! You’re the sweetest! And yes, this cake keeps really well, so making it a day ahead will be no problem! I would just recommend putting any decorative fruit on the day of the birthday. That way, you can keep the frosted cake at cool room temperature (how it keeps best) without worrying about the fruit spoiling. Let me know how it goes if you try it! Xx

  7. Beautiful!! Love this so much!

  8. […] *cake and photo from la peche fraiche […]

  9. Hi, firstly this looks great and I would like to make it for this weekend.
    Just checking — there is only 55g of butter for the whole cake? Or is that just for 1 6-in layer?

    1. Hi Polly, so sorry–I don’t know how I missed your comment! This is far too late now, but yes, 55g for the whole cake (it is petite!). Hopefully things worked out when/if you made it. xoxo

  10. I love this recipe and look forward to baking it. I’m making mini cakes and want to put the batter in a traditional Jelly Roll pan so I can cut out small squares. Is this recipe’s batter sufficient enough for the pan, or do I need to double the recipe, and if so, can this recipe be doubled.

    1. Hi Lorelei! Thank you so much for your kind words. I think that this recipe will fill a half-sheet easily and you won’t have to double it. However, if you do end up needing to double it, there won’t be an issue as the recipe is very amenable to that. Let me know how it goes! xoxo

      1. I am so excited to make this. In fact, I posted on my FB page, with your pge, saying I was so excited to find your recipe I gave myself an anxiety attack. Thank you for answering my question. Thank you for spreading your passion to people like me.

  11. I ended up baking this cake recipe into mini cupcakes. They turned out amazing. I am so glad I found your recipe. It will offer a great presentation and a surprise to the pallets of the ballet company’s patrons. I volunteer goodies like this for the reception table so the ballet company can earn tip money from treats amazing like this one.

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