Let them eat cake!

Not a Tigerlily, but one of my Spiderman lilies that served as the inspiration for this cake.

Not a Tigerlily, but one of my Spiderman lilies that served as the inspiration for this cake.

Dessert. Just the word makes me happy. I love to bake, but without the restaurant I struggle to find occasions to bake for other than the usual holidays. Last week presented an opportunity to dust off the Kitchenaid and break out the Wilton pans. My department set up a potluck for our goal setting meeting. I decided dessert would be my contribution plus it was an opportunity to get Olivia into the kitchen with me again. The theme for the afternoon was Mexican, but I wasn’t sure how smart flan would be with Olivia in the mix so we brainstormed some options. Ancho Chocolate Creme Brulee, Mexican Hot Chocolate layer cake, Kahlua brownies- all great choices but mostly time consuming for a school night where we already had travel softball practice for two hours. Liv suggested one of her favorites with a twist- Tigerlily Cake with a Mexican chocolate ganache. It is a bundt cake that requires minimal prep and the ganache would mexify it. I was in.

After a short trip to the store for ingredient acquisition, we donned our aprons and got to work. Tigerlily cake is a blend of two different cake flavors- orange and chocolate. Some people have aversions to this combo, but we love it. We mix up the orange cake first- it is really a fabby yellow cake with fresh squeezed orange juice substituted for the liquid and heaping teaspoons of orange zest. I do this one first because when you assemble, it goes in the pan first and there is the added bonus you can use the same mixing bowl and it will just lend the chocolate a complimentary profile. I adapted the wonderful yellow cake recipe I got from Smitten Kitchen for the orange cake. Liv did all the measuring and mixing while I prepped the pans with butter and preheated the oven. I love the way a kitchen smells when you zest an orange- fresh and reminiscent of walking the groves in Florida.


Orange Cake (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

***Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter one Bundt pan.

2 cups plus 1 tablespoons cake flour (not self-rising)

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4  teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1 stick  unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

Juice of one large orange, fresh squeezed

2 teaspoons orange zest (zest over batter bowl to capture oils from peel)

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup buttermilk (I like Homestead Creamery)


Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk, orange juice and zest until just combined (mixture will look curdled). Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just incorporated.

Once you have that mixed up, pour into your prepared Bundt pan. The orange cake is lighter and will rise to the top while baking. This will give the cake its flowery appearance with the two cakes colors merging. Now let’s turn to the chocolate cake batter. It may seem strange, but I do not even rinse my mixer bowl before switching to the chocolate. I like the bits of leftover orange scent mixing in with the chocolate cake- it makes them more fused in the final product. Added bonus- your kid only gets one bowl to lick so you are contributing to their reduction of empty calories. Less dishes, healthier kids (sort of)!

Chocolate Cake

1  cup all purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4  teaspoon baking powder

1/4  teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon table salt

1 stick  unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon ( I like roasted Saigon)

1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs, at room temperature

3/4 cup sour cream


Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cayenne and salt in a separate medium bowl. Using the paddle attachment for your mixer, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl at medium speed until  fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla. At low speed, beat in half the flour mixture. Alternate beating in the sour cream with the flour mixture until all is incorporated. Layer into the Bundt pan by pouring around middle of orange batter. I like to use a chopstick to swirl the batter. The chocolate batter will immediately start to move to the bottom revealing the orange batter.









Bake for approximately 40 minutes, depending on your oven. Mine is old and finnicky so I check when we hit the 35 minute mark. You want it to rise so don’t be afraid. It is done when a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then invert onto your cake carrier to await ganache. After the cake is inverted, I like to squeeze another orange around the top of the cake. This adds that extra level of moistness and infuses more of the orange flavor throughout.

Chocolate Ganache

12 oz. good chocolate (I like Ghirardelli Dark chips)

1/2 cup heavy cream (adjust as needed for smooth consistency)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


Now it’s time for the ganache. Ganache can be super easy as long as you pay attention to it. You don’t want to breakdown the chocolate so much that it becomes grainy. You want a smooth topping to spread on you luscious cake. I let Liv try her hand this time with me just guiding. She got the double broiler out and poured the chocolate chips in to get the party started. She stirred the chocolate periodically to ensure even melting. Once the chocolate was pretty melty, she added the heavy cream and cinnamon. Then it was just a matter of letting it meld. Once it combined, Liv removed it from the heat and let it cool for just a couple of minutes before ladling it on the cake.


After topping the cake with the ganache, we zested one more orange around the top just for effect. Normally this comes out really well, but I zested after I juiced so the orange was limp and difficult to keep hold of…hence the chunks of zest riddling the top of the cake. I will remember next time to zest first. This is an important final touch though because it brings full circle that orange flavor you have been layering throughout the cake. If you are not into making two scratch cake batters, you could also modify this recipe by using store-bought cake mixes. My only caveat is you need to still get the orange juice, zest and ganache in to make this a true Tigerlily cake. I have a friend who did this and just substituted the water called for on the box for the fresh-squeezed juice.

Needless to say, the cake was enjoyed by all and Liv has one more recipe in her arsenal!

Note to self- get better at taking food photos!



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