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From the kitchen: Blood Orange Cake with Blood Orange Cardamom Frosting

January 28, 2013




Hello! How was your weekend? I spent most of my weekend watching what felt like an unhealthy amount of movies on Netflix. Have you seen Color me Kubrick? It’s quite fascinating. I don’t want to spoil it, but it’s based on a true story about a man who fooled many people into thinking he was Stanley Kubrick! I also watched Clueless (for the 10,000th time – that’s not an exaggeration), Young Adult (I wasn’t too fond), Manhattan (one of my all-time faves) and the best of the best, Coming to America (#sexualchocolate). Netflix blows my mind. But amidst my movie gluttony, I did manage to have a date night with Mr. P (we saw a show at UCB with Matt Besser that was painfully hilarious) and I baked a cake. A delicious, fruity, three layer blood orange cake with blood orange and cardamom frosting. it. was. amazing.


I recently bought a couple of round cake cutters in different sizes for making layered cakes without having to bake full cake pans. I always find full size layer cakes to be far too much cake per slice. As such, I decided to use my 4 1/2″ cake cutter to make smaller, mini layered cakes. I baked my cake in an 18″ x 13″ rimmed baking sheet and was able to cut 6 small cake layers, which made two three-layer cakes.



I had leftover frosting once I frosted both of my mini cakes, so I combined it with the cake scraps still left in the baking sheet and made just over a dozen cake pops (which I’ll post soon, but here’s a great step-by-step on how to make cake pops in the meantime). Even though I took extra steps to create these guys, they were so cute and teensy (perhaps for a Valentine’s dinner for two?), that I thought it was well worth the effort. And the fact that I was able to make cake pops and not waste any ingredients was the frosting on the cake (pun definitely intended).


Blood Orange Cake with Blood Orange Cardamom Frosting (adapted from Ina Garten)

Makes 2 mini 4 1/2″ round three-layer cakes (plus scraps for making cake pops!) – even though these guys are mini, they sure do feed a lot of hungry friends. I found that each cake easily served 6 generous slices.

(NOTE: I’m wacky and I like to make things extra complicated for the sake of cuteness. If you’d rather keep things easy, use 2 loaf pans as suggested in Ina Garten’s original recipe and call it a day! If you’re crazy like me and want to make mini cakes and have leftover for cake pops, continue reading!)


for the cake:

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup grated blood orange zest (4-6 medium blood oranges)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice, divided
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the frosting:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup blood orange juice
  • 2- 8oz packages cream cheese, softened to room temp
  • 2 sticks butter, softened to room temp
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 tablespoons blood orange zest
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar, sifted (optional)

(NOTE: I prefer a less sweet frosting, so I only used 1/2 cup confectioners sugar. I recommend adding confectioners sugar 1/2 cup at a time until you’ve reached your desired sweetness)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 18″x13″ baking sheet. You may also line the bottom with parchment paper, if desired.

Cream the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the blood orange zest.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine blood orange juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour.

Pour cake batter into baking sheet and smooth the top to ensure evenness. Bake for 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

When the cake is done, allow to cool completely in the pan, 30 minutes to an hour.

In the meantime, prepare your frosting.

Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup blood orange juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Set aside and let cool completely. In a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese at medium-high speed until smooth. Using a paring knife, scrape seeds from vanilla bean butter mixture, add cardamom and blood orange zest and beat at medium-high speed to combine. Mix in the cooled syrup 2-3 tablespoons at a time until fully incorporated. Add confectioner sugar as needed 1/2 cup at a time.

Assemble each cake, one layer at a time, frosting the top of each layer with an icing spatula as you go. Once all of the tops are frosted, frost the side of your cake. Use a rotating cake stand if you have one. Refrigerate the cake to set as needed. Serve with tea or coffee! ENJOY!

16 Comments leave one →
  1. January 28, 2013 12:46 am

    Divine – we are also having a ‘love in’ with blood oranges this side of the Atlantic. I adore them, pretty, sexy, and so versatile. Please can you enlighten me – when is the Californian Blood Orange season?? All ours come from Spain and Italy and the season is only 3 months. I must try the cake – it looks heaven.

    • love and cupcakes permalink*
      January 28, 2013 4:53 pm

      Hi there, I not 100% sure what months blood oranges are in season here in California, but I’ve always known them as a winter fruit. They always seem to be in season around January. Hope this helps! And yes, do try the cake, it’s a piece of heaven for sure!

  2. magentmama permalink
    January 28, 2013 2:25 am

    We have the best blood oranges here in Sicily. I friend of mine took some seeds to plant in Florida. This recipe is gorgeous, I’m going to print it and try it. Brava!

    • love and cupcakes permalink*
      January 28, 2013 5:02 pm

      Oooh! I’d love to taste Sicilian blood oranges! I hope your friend was successful!

  3. January 28, 2013 9:55 am

    OMG! I am in love with this cake. I’ve been on a citrus kick for the past week and I’ll have to try this. What a great idea to use round cutters to make smaller cakes. Genius, actually!


    • love and cupcakes permalink*
      January 28, 2013 5:04 pm

      Thank you, Daisy! Citrus is delicious this time of year. I hope you enjoy this recipe! xoxo.

  4. Mert Parsons permalink
    January 28, 2013 11:20 pm

    Looks delicious, Paola! Wish we lived closer for more tasting opportunities! Your photos are wonderful, and love the cake plates! ;-)

    • love and cupcakes permalink*
      January 28, 2013 11:23 pm

      Awe, thanks Mert! Wish you lived closer too, I could use a few more bellies to fill! xoxo!

  5. January 30, 2013 10:46 am

    Beautiful photos! The cake looks yummy!

  6. January 30, 2013 11:44 pm

    Yum, what a delicious sounding cake! I’ve been meaning to try out cardamom but haven’t gotten around to it. Must remember to pick some up at the store tomorrow.

    • love and cupcakes permalink*
      February 10, 2013 8:25 pm

      Thanks Sara! The Cardamom really added something special to the frosting and it pairs well with orange. I was really pleased! p.s. I LOVE your blog, your cakes and baking are insane!! xoxo!

  7. leimangubat permalink
    January 31, 2013 5:41 pm

    That cake. Looks divine. And this might sound strange, but I love the typography (type? font?) you used on the first picture. Can I ask what font (type?) you used? :D

    • love and cupcakes permalink*
      January 31, 2013 5:50 pm

      Thank you so much! That’s my hand lettering! I’m flattered that you like it :)

  8. February 1, 2013 3:39 pm

    Hand lettering! Wow, you are a skilled, creative, and beautiful woman! So inspiring…:)

    • love and cupcakes permalink*
      February 10, 2013 8:26 pm

      oh WOW! You are far too kind! xoxo!


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