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).
- Brown Butter - My favorite ingredient of all time is brown butter!! Brown butter is just unsalted butter that has been melted and gently cooked to bring out a toasty, nutty flavor. If you've never made brown butter before, you can check out this post with all my tips for how to make brown butter! But if you're trying to keep things simple, you can just use regular unsalted butter in the cake and frosting!
- Cake flour - I always use cake flour in my cakes because it makes them super soft and tender, but all purpose flour also works great!
- Almond Flour - I love substituting a portion of the flour for almond flour in all my baked goods! It helps keep the cake super moist and tender! It's totally optional, but if you keep almond flour on hand it's a must.
- Yogurt - The yogurt keeps this cake super moist while also adding a bit of tang! You always want to use full fat yogurt in baking for the best results! You could also use full fat sour cream or whole milk!
- Oranges - Orange and cardamom is one of my favorite flavors! So this cake uses both orange juice and orange zest! I also used these pretty dried oranges as a garnish, but that's optional!
- Cardamom - One of my favorite spices is cardamom! It's beautifully aromatic and has a warm, citrusy flavor that pairs just beautifully with oranges!
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 113 grams). So you’ll need 227 grams for the cake and 340 grams for the buttercream.
How to Make Cake Layer
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.
How to Get Perfect Cake Layers
There are a few tricks that will help you get perfect, even layers for your brown butter orange cardamom cake!
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.
Tips for the Best Baked Goods
Use room temperature ingredients! Always make sure ingredients like butter, eggs, milk, yogurt, etc. are at room temperature before baking (unless the recipe indicates otherwise)! This ensures they'll incorporate into the batter more easily and leads to overall better texture. Remove all ingredients from the fridge 30 minutes to an hour before baking for best results.
Measure your flour correctly! It's most accurate to use a kitchen scale, but if you're measuring by volume you want to spoon and level! Fluff up the flour a bit with a spoon, and then spoon flour into the measuring cup. Once it's overflowing, use the back of a knife to level it off. Don't ever pack flour into the measuring cup or you'll end up with way too much! Improperly measured flour can lead to dry, dense baked goods. [Measure cocoa powder the same way!]
Use an oven thermometer! Just because your oven says it's 350, doesn't mean it is! If you oven hasn't been calibrated recently, it can be as much as 30 degrees off, which will negatively affect all baked goods from cakes to macarons! An oven thermometer is the easiest/cheapest way to ensure your oven is always at the proper temperature.
Make sure you baking powder is fresh! Baking powder is important for helping baked goods rise properly, but it has a relatively short shelf life once opened, so it's one of the few items I never buy in bulk! To test if your baking powder is still fresh, add a small amount to boiling water. If it bubbles it's still good to use, but if not it's time to toss it!
Cake Decorating Tips
- 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.
- Garnish the orange cardamom cake with dehydrated orange slices!
Store this orange cardamom layer cake in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Yes!! The brown butter cake layers can be made and frozen up to a month in advance! Wrap the layers indivuvally with plastic wrap, and then seal in a freezer safe bag for the best results.
This orange cardamom cake recipe is designed for 3 six inch cake pans. But it will also work well with 2 eight inch cake pans.
Of course not! You can absolutely substitute regular unsalted butter. I just love the flavor that brown butter adds.
Tips for Success!
For best results I always recommend using weight measurements (especially when baking) because it's the most accurate. Kitchen scales are super affordable and also reduce the number of dishes you have to do! However, all my recipes also include US customary measurements for convince. Use this chart to convert measurements for common ingredients!
Substitutions: In all my recipes, I've included substitutions that I know will work, but I cannot guarantee results if you substitute ingredients that I have not recommended. For example, granulated sugar and honey are indeed both sweeteners but they have different properties so that can not always be swapped 1:1. In the recipe card you'll find links to the specific ingredients/brands that I use.
A note on salt: I almost exclusively use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt because it's the best all-purpose salt for cooking and baking. If you're not using kosher salt, consult this handy guide for a conversion chart! When in doubt, if you're using table salt just reduce the amount by half for baked goods. When cooking, I prefer to under-salt because you can always add more! If you've over-salted, adding a little bit of acid (like lemon juice) can help.
More Recipes You Might Like!
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Brown Butter Orange Cardamom Layer Cake
Orange Cardamom Cake
- 2 cups cake flour, substitute all purpose flour
- ½ cup almond flour, substitute all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup brown butter, melted
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon orange zest, about 1 orange
- ⅓ cup orange juice, about 1 orange
- ⅔ cup plain full-fat yogurt
Honey Brown Butter Buttercream
- 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
- 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
- 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 until about 30 minutes before serving.
- Cover and store the cake in the fridge for up to 5 days.
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.