I dedicate this recipe to my late Grandmother, Patricia Redfield. Today is her birthday and I think she would have really enjoyed this! Cheers Ama!
Citrus season is here and now is the time to take full advantage of oranges, lemons and grapefruits! Southern California is a particularly special place to live for citrus. I was at the famers market recently and saw so many varieties of oranges! The ones that really caught my eye were the Cara Caras. Not only because they look like my name spelled with a C, but they have the most beautiful pink flesh on the inside! They are not as dark as blood oranges, but more of a coral pink hue… absolutely gorgeous! I bought a bag and let my mind wander about how I could make the most of their flavor. Got it! I would make a Cara Cara Cake! Using the zest and juice to flavor the batter and the slices themselves to serve as decor.
I have truly fallen in love with cake baking, there is something about the entire process that makes me so genuinely happy. I love mixing the batter, pouring it into the round pans and then of course decorating — the freedom of creativity is exciting to me. I still have a lot of practicing to do and I know I will get better, but for now I’m really having fun figuring it out!
For this cake, I wanted to utilize the Cara Cara flavor with a white cake and classic buttercream frosting. The zest and juice was perfect for the batter, gave it just the right amount of flavor! I had originally intended for the frosting to be an soft orange hue, but it turned out more pink — still looks good though! I did cheat a little with flavoring the frosting, I didn’t know if the juice would be strong enough so I added actual orange extract. Decorating was much easier though thanks to my new spinning cake stand I got for my birthday in December! (Thanks Mom)! There’s nothing like frosting a cake as it spins, made me feel like an almost professional.
For the cake topper, I knew I wanted to use the actual oranges somehow, so I made a mix of Cara Cara slices and regular orange slices and dried them in the oven for a couple of hours with sugar. For my first attempt at drying oranges, I think I did an okay job — they looked pretty on the cake!
I recommend you make this cake before these oranges are gone! Have fun and be as creative at you want with your cake decor!
If you live in California or any of the southern states, you should be able to find Cara Cara's right now at your local farmers market and some grocery stores. I found the ones I used for this recipe at my farmers market, but also saw them featured at Bristol Farms.
Because these particular oranges are so delicious, I thought I would share some facts I learned about them from Specialty Produce!
- Cara Cara oranges are a good source for vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, potassium, protein and the caroteniod, lycopene, which gives them their pink color.
- Cara Cara oranges are an ideal balance of sweetness and acidity, making them suitable for fresh eating, juices, jams, sauces, baking and used in pan sauces.
- The Cara Cara orange has been branded by Sunkist as the "Power Orange" due to its higher levels of nutrients compared to other orange varieties.
- The first Cara Cara orange was found growing on a Washington navel orange tree in 1976 at Hacienda Cara Cara in Venezuela, hence its given name. It was introduced to the United States in the early 1980s and now grows in California, Florida and Texas.
- It tastes sweeter than any other orange with flavors far more comparable to tangerines.
- Its flesh is seedless.