Creamsicle Dusk Cake

I came up with the concept for this cake when I was watching the sunset on the beach. Seeing the different colors in the sky got me thinking, how cool would it be to replicate that with buttercream? The blues, oranges, purples, and dark green-ish tints, it would be a really pretty visual effect that I would have fun recreating! I went with using my natural food coloring powders to dye a bunch of Swiss meringue buttercream into the shades of the sunset, but if you do not have those powders on hand, using food coloring is okay too – I used butterfly pea powder, purple yam powder, and to darken the tints on the buttercreams, a little but of activated charcoal powder. Again, if you do not have those items in your pantry, using food coloring is perfectly fine too! I would recommend using royal blue, purple, and black food gel colorings in place of them. When it came to the flavors of this cake, I wanted to keep it on the simpler side, and go with vanilla, and orange. So basically a creamsicle. It definitely captures summer memories of playing by the beach, watching the sunset, the changing colors of the sky as the day goes away, and eating a creamsicle, and that was 100% what I was going for in terms of the nostalgia and flavor profile. This cake was a lot of fun to conceptualize, and it is definitely a labor of love to bring it all together!

From a technical side, there is quite a bit of work that needs to go into this cake – the sponge is an orange chiffon, which requires heavily whipped egg whites for a nicely leavened cake. I soaked the cake in a mixture of orange juice and vanilla milk, to really reinforce the vanilla and orange notes. One of the fillings for the cake is a white chocolate namelaka. Namelaka is a whipped mousse that is velvety and silky. I wanted to use that as a filling just to give some contrast to the buttercreams that I am enrobing the entire cake in. The other filling is an orange curd, meant to add some tartness as well. For this recipe, I would recommend using sour oranges when possible, as they will give the most balance in terms of flavor, especially against the sugar, butter, and vanilla being used throughout the recipe! Speaking of butter, there are not one, but two different kinds of buttercreams used in this cake. The logic was that I would use additional egg yolks with orange juice to make an orange colored and flavored curd, but since that would leave behind egg whites, I would use the spare egg whites from that buttercream and from making the orange curd to make a vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream. Since the Swiss meringue buttercream would be a lot paler in color, I could get away with dying it different colors, which means that I could have a dusk-colored creamsicle buttercream experience! Just to add in more contrast, I took a portion of the curd, and transformed that into a mousseline, which will act like the crumb coat to the cake, which is then enrobed in the buttercreams. To finish, I also used gold dragee sprinkles to sort of represent the twinkling lights of the city and the stars, however you want to interpret it!

For the orange chiffon cake:
4 egg whites
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
zest from 2 oranges
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp canola oil
2/3 cups all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt

In a bowl, whip egg whites with sugar and vanilla to stiff peaks. In another bowl, whisk egg yolks with orange zest, baking powder, and canola oil first. Then first into the egg yolk mixture your flour and salt. Lastly, fold the egg whites into the flour-egg yolk mixture to form your batter. Pour the batter into a parchment-lined quarter sheet tray and spread into an even layer. Bake at 350 degrees F for 22 minutes. Allow the cake to cool completely before cutting out 2 6-inch rounds and creating a third round out of the cake scraps. Transfer the rounds to the freezer, as the colder the cake, the easier for assembly later.

For the vanilla-orange soak:
Juice from 2 oranges
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
a pinch of salt

Stir everything together until combined. Soak the cake rounds and then keep them in the freezer.

For the white chocolate namelaka:
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp gelatin powder + 1 tbsp cold water
1 cup white chocolate chips
a pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup heavy cream

In a pot on medium heat, bring the milk with gelatin to a simmer. Once the gelatin is dissolved, lower the heat and add in the chocolate and salt. Stir until combined. Take off heat and add in the vanilla extract. Allow the mixture to cool down completely before transferring to a mixing bowl and folding in the heavy cream to form your namelaka. Transfer to a piping bag.

For the orange curd:
Zest from 1 oranges
1 cup orange juice
1 tsp gelatin powder + 1 tbsp cold water
2 tbsp cornstarch
5 egg yolks
2 tbsp granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cubed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp orange blossom water*

In a pot, heat up the orange juice, zest, and gelatin. Reduce down by about 1/4. In a bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, egg yolks, sugar, and salt. Pour half of the orange juice into the egg yolks while whisking them. Then pour the egg-orange mixture back into the pot with orange juice and whisk on low heat until the mixture begins to cling to the sides of the whisk. Take off heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla until combined. Pass through a sieve to remove any lumps and store in a container with plastic wrap pressed against the surface of the curd. Refrigerate the curd until firmed, about 5 minutes. Reserve about 1/3 cup of the curd for the mousseline.

For the orange mousseline:
1/3 cup orange curd
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened and at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk everything together until creamed and combined into a smooth, creamy mixture. Keep at room temperature for optimal spreading.

For initial assembly:
In a ring mold lined with acetate, place down your scrap layer of cake and add on the soak. Spread on half of your curd, then swirl on top of that half of your namelaka. Repeat for the second layer. Place on the third layer. Transfer the cake to the freezer for an hour. Then carefully unmold the cake and spread on the orange mousseline in a thin layer. Return to the freezer for at least another hour.

For the vanilla Swiss buttercream:
3 egg whites
1/3 cup granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened and at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
butterfly pea powder
purple yam powder
green spirulina powder
activated charcoal powder

In a bowl over a double boiler, whisk the egg whites with sugar and salt until frothy – the sugar should be fully dissolved into the egg whites. Transfer to a stand mixer with a whisk attachment and whip to stiff peaks. Whisk into that the butter and vanilla to form your buttercream. Reserve about Divide the buttercream into 3 batches, dying one with 1/2 tsp purple yam powder and 1/8 tsp activated charcoal powder, one with 1/2 tsp butterfly pea powder and 1/8 tsp activated charcoal powder, and another with 1/2 tsp butterfly pea powder and 1/2 tsp purple yam powder. Keep your buttercreams at room temperature for now so assembly will be easier.

For final assembly:
Gold dragees

Start by spreading the purple yam-butterfly pea buttercream onto the bottom 1/4 of the cake, reserving any spare buttercream for the top. Do the same with the purple yam-activated charcoal butter, and finally, the butterfly pea-activated charcoal buttercream. For the top, spread a combination of the three aforementioned buttercreams on top in an even layer. Combine any spare buttercream into a piping bag with a star tip then pipe the remaining buttercream on top of the cake. Freeze the cake for 10 minutes. Finish with gold dragees.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Interesting concept and great execution!


  2. Renee says:

    Absolutely gorgeous! I can’t wait to taste this!

    Liked by 1 person

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