I had the rest of the oranges from the tree in the back yard, and was looking for something real special. Well, as all too often happens, good ideas go bad, and you have to make orangeade out of oranges!
I turned to Julia's Mastering the Art of French Cooking for an orange cake. The recipe sounded wonderful, with lots of fresh orange juice, fresh zest, and Cointreau. Typical of JC, the eggs are the only leavening in this cake. I don't have the 9-inch pans that it called for. So instead of baking one 9-inch cake and splitting it, I baked it in 2 8-inch layers. That worked, but I had to watch the baking time - instead of 30-35 minutes, it was done in 20.
When I flipped them out of the pan, I tasted the crumb, and damn, it seemed tough. I was NOT happy. So I wrapped the cooled layers in plastic, and let them sit on the counter for 2 days while I stewed about it.
SousChef finally nagged me about finishing the cake or throwing it out. So I unwrapped, and found that the surface was now sticky, probably from the sugar content and the 2-day steam bath. (It was 80 degrees here yesterday). So I got out a pastry brush, and gently removed the entire surface layer of the cakes. Now I was worried about drying. So I diluted a tablespoon of Grand Marnier with a tablespoon of water, and brushed it on the surfaces of the cakes.
What to do now? I found a recipe for an orange-butter filling that sounded like an orange version of lemon curd. I cooked it (used a thermometer), beat it, cooled it in an ice bath, did everything but sing to it. Tried chilling it in the fridge. Soup. This is not a filling, it's thick orange soup. I've got a ton of good ingredients here that I really don't want to throw out - oranges, butter, eggs, sugar, more Cointreau.
I decided to try using the syrup as the base for a buttercream. I beat up a couple sticks of butter till soft & smooth, then started beating in about 2 cups of the orange stuff. It worked! It was the most delicious orange buttercream!
Now to put this thing together. I don't usually make just a cake & frosting. I like different flavor & texture elements in my desserts. Since I was working with all one flavor, orange, I was hoping for the textural interest between the sponge, the curd, and the buttercream. Now that wasn't going to happen.
So I thought "CHOCOLATE!" Orange and dark chocolate! We're making a ganache! I heated 1/4 cup of cream and poured it over 2 ounces of dark chocolate. Did you hear what I said? 4 tablespoons of cream to 2 ounces of chocolate! That's not ganache - that's chocolate sauce! I even cooled that one in the fridge before I realized what I had done. I tried to fix it. Melted 2 more ounces of chocolate with a tablespoon of orange booze (by this time, I don't know if I used the Cointreau or the Grand Marnier - I think I had more than a few sips). I stirred the chocolate soup into the newly melted chocolate and VOILA! Ganache! But twice as much as I needed to coat the inside layer. No matter, I'll save it.
So I coated one genoise layer with chocolate, then a generous layer of buttercream. The next layer went on top, and I started frosting the whole thing. Well, it look pretty plain. But I still have more ganache. Hmmmmm...
Pulled out a decorating tip and built up a retaining wall around the top of the cake and added one to the bottom for balance. Then I poured the rest of the ganache all over the top of the cake. It looked lovely with that chocolate lake on top of the cake.
This morning, we cut the cake for breakfast. (Yeah, well. OK, we did. It was that or Grape Nuts). It wasn't tough. It wasn't dry. It was wonderfully orange and chocolate and delicious. It's a keeper.