An All-Time Favorite Recipe: Orange Meringue Cake

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“Let them eat cake!” Marie Antoinette knew what she was talking about when she proclaimed this famous phrase. Who doesn’t love to keep a cup of coffee or tea company with a slice of cake, coffee cake, cheesecake or a cupcake?

A slice of cake is a true sweet indulgence. Cakes have the power to bring smiles on the faces of young and old alike. They can be as simple as a butter pound cake, or as complex as a triple-layer coconut cake. Cakes are a treat to eat; each bite is like a trip into a world where fluffy layers and creamy frostings reign supreme. One has only to think about feather-light cakes and decadent frostings to start craving.

Whatever the occasion, cakes have always held a place of prominence at special celebrations. Remember that gingerbread cake your grandmother always made for Christmas? How about that fudgy devil’s food cake you were presented with on your eighth birthday?

There’s hardly any family that doesn’t have an all-time favorite cake recipe. Whether it’s Grandma Rose, Aunt Linda, Cousin Sally, or even Uncle Frank who whips up the cake, a homemade cake is the end result of a precise process. It requires careful measuring, sifting, creaming, combining, flavoring, baking, cooling, frosting and decorating. No wonder the art of cake baking is a labor of love!

My family has several cakes that we treasure. My father’s aunt creates the most exquisite cheesecake that rivals any store-bought compatriot. My grandfather and I both enjoy an occasional piece of angel food cake whenever we long for its cotton-candy softness. At a birthday party for my mother, a sumptuous devil’s food cake with chocolate frosting is an appropriate gift for an expert “chococonnoisseur.”

With the sunny gems from Florida and California, oranges, so abundant at the grocery store in the summertime, why not put them to use in this recipe for Orange Meringue Cake? A twist on the classic yellow butter cake, this cake is sure to become a big hit with your family. It combines the fluffiness of yellow cake with the crunchiness of meringue. I hope you’ll try baking the Orange Meringue Cake this week. Who knows? It may even become an all-time favorite in your family.



  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Whipped-Cream Filling (recipe follows)
  • Simple Meringue (recipe follows)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans


1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8- by-2 inch cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper. Dust bottoms and sides of pans with flour making sure to coat pans evenly. Tap to remove any excess. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar, and cream until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Gradually add eggs, beating after each addition until batter is no longer slick, about 5 minutes; scrape downsides.

3. Reduce mixer speed to low. Slowly add reserved sifted flour mixture, alternating with the milk, a little at a time, starting and ending with the dry mixture. Beat in vanilla and orange zest.

4. Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for approximately 35 minutes; remove from oven. Drop spoonfuls of Simple Meringue mixture over batter in pans, then carefully spread out to cover. Sprinkle pecans over meringue mixture. Press lightly onto the surface. Return pans to oven, and bake for approximately 25 minutes more until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Remove cakes from pans, and return to a wire rack to cool completely about 1 hour.

5. To assemble, remove parchment paper from cake layers. Place one layer, meringue side up, on a cutting board. Spread Whipped-Cream Filling over the layer. Place the second layer on top with meringue side up. Chill assembled cake until set, at least 1 hour, or overnight.

6. Transfer cake to a serving plate. When slicing cake, run a knife under hot water, then wipe dry, and cut. Repeat, rinsing with hot water between slices.



  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 oranges, peeled, quartered, and seeded, cut into 1-inch chunks

Combine whipping cream, confectioners’ sugar, and the vanilla. Beat until soft peaks form. Fold in orange pieces. Chill in refrigerator until ready to use on the cake.



  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon rum extract

Wash and dry beaters and mixer bowl thoroughly. In a small mixer bowl beat egg whites until soft peaks form; gradually add the sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form. Beat in vanilla and rum extract. Chill in refrigerator until ready to use on the cake.

Recipe Tips:

1. When you beat together the butter and sugar in this recipe, it is called creaming. Creaming creates air bubbles in the cake batter and yields a good cake texture. It takes about 3 minutes with a standing mixer, longer with a portable mixer.

2. It is important when making a meringue that your bowl, beaters, and spatula be free of all fat; otherwise, it will not whip properly. Wash all in hot, sudsy water and dry well.

Kitchen Tips:

When using margarine for baking, choose one that contains no less than 60 percent vegetable oil, according to the Better Homes and Gardens test kitchen bakers. Spreads that contain less vegetable oil and more water can affect the texture and overall quality of your baked goods, they say. For example, biscotti made with extra light margarine or spread won’t be as crisp as expected. When shopping for margarine or other spreads, the BH&G; test kitchen bakers recommend carefully reading package labels (especially the fine print) to see how much vegetable oil is in a product.

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