When a friend of mine sent me the link to Apollinas’ Stella Cake I knew right away this was going to be my dad’s birthday cake. Not only did the recipe sounds absolutely fresh and delicious, it looked amazing! And with a little crafty inspiration as well as some fun supplies, I made a bunting banner instead of writing on the cake. I was thrilled with the results!
For the citrus cake:
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
zest of 3 oranges and 3 lemons
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange extract
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup whole milk
sliced oranges, lemons, limes & mint leaves for decoration
Set your oven to 350° and butter and flour 2 cake pans (I used 8″ rounds) and lay in parchment paper and put more butter on top so the cakes don’t stick. Cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Zest your oranges and lemons and add to the butter/sugar mixture. Add in the vanilla & orange extracts and the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low, add in the milk and dry ingredients in 5 alternating additions, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. With each addition, blend only until just mixed. Fold gently with a rubber spatula to make sure everything is incorporated.
Put half of the mixture into one of the cake pans, then if you are feeling crafty like I was, mix in some orange food coloring into the second half of the mixture. Pick up and drop the cake pans a couple of times to get out the air pockets and get a more even top once baked. Put both pans in the oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes (note this is for 8″ pans) rotating them after 15 minutes to make sure they bake evenly. Let cool for about 15 minutes in the pans, then let cool completely on wire racks. I always wrap my cakes in plastic and put in the fridge or freezer so they firm up and are easier to cut and handle.
For the citrus buttercream:
4 sticks (2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1 pound confectioners sugar, sifted
pinch of salt
Beat the butter on high-speed until fluffy, around 3 minutes. Add in the lemon zest and orange juice and mix together. Gradually sift in the confectioners sugar and then the salt. Blend until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides. You can ice the cake right away or refrigerate overnight, but be sure to bring back to room temperature before icing the cake!
Lemon curd – I used store-bought lemon curd, which you can find at your local grocery store or even at Marshalls or Home Goods. If you are feeling very Susie Homemaker, you can make your own. I suggest using this Joy of Baking recipe and video to help!
To assemble everything:
1. After chilling the cakes so they are firm, slice each layer in half so that you have 4 layers of cake. You will have 2 very flat pieces, from the bottom half of the cake pans. Use these for the very bottom and top layers. Take one of your flat pieces and place on a cake board. Top with a generous dollop of lemon curd and spread out evenly. Place another piece of cake on top, this time spread a generous dollop of your buttercream icing on top. Repeat again with a second layer of lemon curd. Finally place your second flat piece of cake on the top. *If you dyed one of your layers like I did, be sure to alternate the colors.
2. Make sure that all of your layers are even and adjust accordingly before icing the cake. Using an offset spatula, take large scoops of the buttercream and spread evenly around the cake. There is more than enough icing to really layer it on thick, so don’t be stingy. I never get too intense about making the icing look extremely smooth and perfect, I absolutely do not have the skill to do that just yet. Plus you will be layering the sliced fruit on top so it doesn’t need to look perfect!
3. Rinse off your fruit and mint leaves. Using a mandoline or very sharp knife, very carefully slice your oranges, lemons and limes into thin pieces. Lay them on a paper towel to soak up the excess juices. Arrange the fruit slices and mint leaves around your cake in any way you like! Add fun candles and a fun bunting banner if it’s a celebration cake, or just keep the fruit as the centerpiece.
Time: 2 1/2 to 3 hours, but can be spread out over two days
Serves: 12-14 rather generous slices
adapted from: Apollinas Stella Cake