This brown butter orange cardamom layer cake is sandwiched with layers of fluffy honey brown butter buttercream and garnished with dried orange slices! It's light, super flavorful, and sure to impress!
I made these fun dried orange slices last week and immediately knew I wanted to use them to decorate a cake! I had this vision of a semi-naked layer cake with orange slices traveling up the side. So I started brainstorming what flavors to use and soon this orange cardamom cake with honey brown butter buttercream was born! It's honestly one of my favorite cakes I've ever made!
First things first, you need to make a LOT of brown butter because it goes in both the cake and the buttercream. I recommend making layer cakes over the course of 2 days because it's just easier. So make the cake layers and all the brown butter the night before, then do the buttercream and decorating the next day.
If you want to use these pretty dried oranges as a garnish, make those the day before too (or even farther in advice -- they keep for a long time).
how to make dried orange slices
Decorating the cake with dried orange slices is completely optional of course, but they are such an easy and beautiful garnish!
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Using a mandoline* or sharp knife, slice the oranges very thinly
- Bake the orange slices for 2-3 hours or until they are completely dry (make sure to check on them frequently towards the end so they don't burn).
Dried orange slices are also great to use as potpourri or can be strung together for a holiday garland!
day one: make cake layers and brown butter
Neither of these steps take a ton of time, so I usually just do them both the evening before I want to decorate my cake.
how do you get perfect cake layers??
There are a few tricks that will help you get perfect, even layers!
First, you need good nonstick cake pans and pan spray. I use three 6×2 inch Fat Daddio’s* layer cake pans and I love them!! It's super important to get actual layer cake pans because the sides are perfectly straight! It's a little annoying because this means you can't stack them, but your layers will have perfect sides! With just a tiny bit of pan spray, the cakes just slide right out and never stick! For pan spray, I love both Everbake Pan Spray and Baker's Joy*!
Next, is trimming your cake. This can be a little tricky, but it's super easy once you do it a couple times. Let the cakes cool completely to room temperature, then take a large bread knife and very carefully slice off the very top of the cake so that you have a perfectly even layer. I like using a big bread knife because it's sharp, serrated, and long enough to go through the entire layer at one time.
And of course freezing the layers! So after you've let the cake layers cool completely and trimmed them. Wrap each layer tightly in plastic wrap in place in the freezer overnight. Don't take them out until right before you start assembling the cake! This allows the frosting to slide on smoothly and prevents any crumbs from getting in the frosting.
how to make brown butter
If you're afraid of calories, you might want to just stop reading because this cake calls for 2 ½ cups of butter. Yep, you read that right. But I promise it's so so good!
Both the orange cardamom cake and buttercream call for brown butter, so I find it easier to just make 2 separate batches. But you can also make it all together and weigh out the difference if you have a food scale* (½ cup of butter weighs about 110 grams). So you’ll need 220 grams for the cake and 330 grams for the buttercream.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
- Once melted, stir frequently and watch closely for the formation of brown specs on the bottom of the pan and a nutty aroma.
- Once you see brown specs, stir for just a few more seconds (it browns super quickly).
- Remove from the heat and immediately pour into a different bowl to prevent it from burning.
- For the cake, let the butter cool slightly (5-10 minutes) before using.
- For the buttercream, it needs to cool completely to room temperature so that it’s solid but pliable. You can leave the brown butter for the buttercream in an airtight container at room temperature overnight and it will be perfect the next day!
day two: make the buttercream and decorate
After you make the honey brown butter buttercream, remove the frozen cake layers from the fridge. Assemble the cake with buttercream between each layer and then smooth a very light coating of frosting around the top and edges of the cake. Then put the assembled cake back in the freezer for about 30 minutes to an hour. This is called the crumb coat. It helps trap any crumbs in that thin layer of frosting so that your final layer of frosting is perfectly smooth. The crumb coat isn't always necessary when you're working with already frozen cake layers or if you want to do a semi-naked cake like the one pictured!
If desired, use more buttercream to attached the dried orange slices to the cake.
- I absolutely love my rotating cake stand*! I hesitated buying one for a long time, but it really does make getting nice, even frosting so much easier!
- My must have tools for frosting cakes are an offset spatula* and an icing smoother*. Both are super helpful in achieving that perfect, smooth outside frosting.
- I use a 6 inch cake board* to transfer my cakes from the turning caking stand, to the stand I like to photograph with.
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Brown Butter Orange Cardamom Layer Cake
Orange Cardamom Cake
- 2 cups cake flour, substitute all purpose flour
- ½ cup almond four, substitute all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, browned
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon orange zest, about 1 orange
- ⅓ cup orange juice, about 1 orange
- ⅔ cup plain full-fat yogurt
- I highly recommend making the cake layers and the brown butter for the buttercream the night before so that they both have time to chill!
Orange Cardamom Cake
- Brown the butter: In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Once melted, stir frequently and watch closely for the formation of brown specs on the bottom of the pan and a nutty aroma. Once you see brown specs, stir for just a few more seconds (it browns super quickly). Remove from the heat and immediately pour into a different bowl to prevent it from burning. Let cool for 5-10 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly spray three 6 inch layer cake pans with pan spray.
- Whisk the cake flour, almond flour, baking powder, cardamom, cinnamon, and salt together in a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the brown butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, and orange zest together until combined.
- Stir in about half of the flour mixture. Then stir in the orange juice, yogurt, and the rest of the flour mixture and mix until fully combined. The batter will be thin.
- Pour ⅓ of the batter into each cake pan (they will only be about half full).
- Bake at 350°F for 20-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
- Place a cooling rack on top of each cake pan and invert. The pan should slide cleanly away.
- Let the cakes cool completely to room temperature before trimming.
- Once the cakes are fully cooled. Using a sharp bread knife, trim the cakes until the layers are even. Wrap each layer tightly in plastic wrap and place in the freezer overnight.
Brown Butter Buttercream
- Brown the butter: In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Once melted, stir frequently and watch closely for the formation of brown specs on the bottom of the pan and a nutty aroma. Once you see brown specs, stir for just a few more seconds (it browns super quickly). Remove from the heat and immediately pour into a different bowl to prevent it from burning. Let cool completely to room temperature. The brown butter should be solid but still pliable. You can leave the browned butter in an airtight container at room temperature overnight and it will be perfect for the next day!
- In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the brown butter and powdered sugar until smooth.
- Add in honey, vanilla, salt, and milk until fully combined.
- Beat the frosting on high for 4-5 minutes until lightly and fluffy.
Assemble the Cake
- Remove cake layers from the freezer. Place the bottom layer of cake on your cake stand and spread about ⅓ of the buttercream evenly on top. Place the next layer on top and repeat. Place the final cake layer upside down so that the top of your cake is as even as possible. Smooth the rest of the buttercream on the top and sides of your cake as desired.
- Use buttercream to attach dried orange slices to the side of the cake.
- Refrigerate your cake for 2-3 hours before slicing and serving.
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