Orange Almond Cake with Buttercream Frosting

We were recently invited to a get-together and I offered to make a cake for that evening. I thought of this cake since it had been a while I made it. Orange and almond work beautifully, so in keeping with the theme, I used a bit of orange jam with whipped cream and almond pralin to fill the cake. The buttercream is made with a sugar syrup, so it will hold very well in warm weather or at room temperature for a long time. 

All the recipes and components are from Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Volume 1". You can get the recipe for the almond pralin in the techniques section of this website.


For the cake

  • 1/4 pounds butter (1 stick or 8 tablespoons), melted
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • Grated rind of 1 orange
  • 1/3 cup strained orange juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3/4 cup pulverized almonds
  • 3/4 cup sifted cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • pinch of salt

For the cake filling

  • Orange jam (I used Bonne Maman since it has bits of bitter rind that give it an extra touch)
  • Mexican chocolate tablet (found in specialty stores, it is used to make hot chocolate) or dark chocolate if you can't find the specialty chocolate
  • Whipped cream, with a bit of rum and confectioner's sugar whisked in
  • Almond pralin (recipe here)
  • Sliced toasted almonds

For the buttercream

  • 1/2 pounds butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 egg and 3 yolks
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons rum


  • A 9-inch round cake pan, buttered and floured
  • A candy thermometer
  • A citrus grater

Preparing the cake

MEP Orange almond cake with buttercream frosting

Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 egg yolks

Whisk the sugar and egg yolks until the mixture turns pale yellow and forms the ribbon.

  • Grated rind of 1 orange
  • 1/3 cup strained orange juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Whisk in orange rind, juice and almond extract until well incorporated.

Orange mixture
  • 3/4 cup pulverized almonds
  • 3/4 cup sifted cake flour

Beat in the almonds, followed by the flour. Set mixture aside.

Orange mixture and flours
  • 3 egg whites at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • pinch of salt

In a separate bowl, mix the egg whites until frothy. Add salt and continue beating until soft peaks form.

Soft peaks

Add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.

Stiff peaks

Turn off mixer and set egg whites aside.

  • 1/4 pounds butter (1 stick or 8 tablespoons), melted

Add butter to orange mixture, taking care to omit the milky residue at the bottom of the pan. 

Adding clarified butter

Fold butter into the orange mixture with a spatula.

Folding butter into mixture

Take your egg whites and stir in one fourth into the orange mixture. 

Stiring egg whites into orange mixture

Fold the remaining egg whites delicately and immediately pour into the floured pan, making sure the batter goes all the way to the rim.

Pan ready for the oven

Bake in the middle level of the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes. You will know the cake is done when it has browned, puffed and when it is springy to the touch and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. 

Cake is done

Dislodge from mould by running knife around the edge and reverse onto cooling rack to cool completely. Cake can be tightly wrapped and refrigerated once cooled. But in this case, we'll power on with the recipe.

Preparing the Buttercream

MEP Buttercream with sugar syrup
  • 1/2 pounds butter (2 sticks)

Cream the butter using a wooden spoon or a wire whisk until it is light and fluffy.

Creamed butter
  • 1 egg and 3 yolks

In a bowl, whisk the eggs and yolks. Set aside.

Whisked eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water

Place sugar and water in a saucepan and over medium high heat in the stove, boil until it reaches 235˚F on a candy thermometer.

Boiling sugar

Remove from heat and immediately start whisking the egg mixture while you slowly pour the boiling sugar in a stream of droplets. 

Eggs with boiling sugar

Set a pan of almost simmering water on the stovetop and place the bowl with the egg mixture on it. Continue beating, lifting as much air as possible for 4 to 5 minutes, until it becomes foamy.

Beating over heat
  • 2 tablespoons rum

Remove mixture from heat, whisk rum. Prepare a large bowl with ice water and place the bowl over it. Continue beating until mixture has cooled to tepid. 

Cooling mixture

Beat in the creamed butter until it reaches the desired consistency to use the buttercream on the cake. 

Buttercream ready to use

Assembling and Decorating the Cake

Begin by cutting the sides of the cake to even out the edges, and slicing the cake in two layers using skewers and set strips of wax or parchment paper to collect any mess as recommended in this post

  • Orange jam 

Spread a thin layer of orange jam over the bottom layer.

Jam on cake
  • Chocolate tablet

Grate the chocolate tablet over the orange jam until you have a thick layer.

Grated chocolate over orange
  • Flavoured whipped cream

Add a thick layer of whipped cream all the way to the edges.

Whipped cream over cake
  • Almond pralin 

Sprinkle a heavy coat of almond pralin over the whipped cream.

Pralin over whipped cream

Place the other layer on top and even out the whipped cream to have even edges.

All layers ready for buttercream

Spread a thin layer of buttercream over the sides and top of the cake. Refrigerate for 5 minutes. Spread a thicker, even layer of buttercream over the cake.

Buttercream on cake
  • Sliced toasted almonds

Using a spoon, place almonds on side of the cake all around.

Placing almonds on side of cake

Continue decorating cake. In this case, I made a ruffle on the top edge with the leaf tip, and used the star tip to make decorations on the top and bottom edge. 

Decorating cake

The cake can be eaten immediately, or placed in the refrigerator for later. If you refrigerate it, I recommend you let it get to room temperature before cutting it as this buttercream will thicken considerably and hold well in warm weather. 

Orange Almond Cake with Buttercream Frosting

This cake calls for champagne! But you can enjoy it by itself. 

Bon appétit!