Here’s a little behind the scenes secret: when I was trying to create this watercolor cake tutorial, I actually started with an all-orange color palette and it did not turn out the way I wanted. The flowers didn’t go with it, so I thought I’d start over with a different color scheme. It was a happy accident though, because the cake reminded me of an Orange Creamsicle and I thought, hey, that would make an amazing cake flavor. And I considered it perfect timing because Summer is in full swing and what’s more Summer than an Orange Creamsicle anyway?
After picking up some Orange Creamsicles from the store for inspiration, I got to work in the kitchen. I started with an Orange flavored cake and played around with the ratios of ingredients until the flavor was perfect and the texture was oh so soft and moist. The results actually made me want to revisit more of my already-soft cake recipes to make them even softer! I flavored the cake with a little vanilla, some fresh orange juice and lots of orange zest, which is where the majority of the flavor is found. It turned out so delicious, refreshing, and just a joy to eat!
Vanilla buttercream ended up being the perfect pairing to turn this orange cake into an Orange Creamsicle cake. The flavor is spot on. It’s an American buttercream that I use for most everything I do, and I’ve tweaked the recipe to use less sugar so it’s not too sweet and just the right consistency for filling and frosting the cake, plus piping on the top.
To decorate, I followed this watercolor cake tutorial with an orange and white color palette. Using AmeriColor Orange in different intensities, I created a light peachy-colored orange and a darker orange with my Vanilla Buttercream, then blended them all together with plain white to round out the Orange Creamsicle inspired color palette. I think the watercolor finish turned out so pretty!
To top it all, I created a half drip with my white chocolate ganache recipe (tinted orange with more AmeriColor Orange), then piped a simple border around the top edge with Wilton tip 6B and the lighter orange colored buttercream. However you choose to decorate, one thing is for sure – this cake is downright delicious and just perfect for a Summer celebration (or just because)! If you’re looking for an easy cake recipe with an exciting flavor profile, this is the one for you. Enjoy!
Orange Creamsicle Cake
- 1/4 Cup (60ml) fresh squeezed orange juice from about 1 large orange
- 1/2 Cup (120ml) whole milk, room temperature
- 2 1/2 Cups (260g) cake flour, sifted before measuring
- 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 Cup (170g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/4 Cup (260g) granulated white sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 Tbsp orange zest from about 1/2 large orange
- 1/3 Cup (75g) sour cream, room temperature
- 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 drops orange food coloring (optional)
- 2 Cups (452g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 7 Cups (840g) powdered sugar
- 2 Tbsp whole milk, room temperature
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
Make the Orange Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF and prepare three 6-inch cake pans by spraying the sides with cooking spray and placing a wax or parchment paper circle into the bottom of each one. Mix together the orange juice and whole milk and set aside. Measure the cake flour by spooning into your measuring cup and leveling it. Place it into a medium sized bowl and add the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together and set aside.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer (a handheld mixer works fine too!), cream the butter on high for two minutes until it's light and fluffy. Add in white granulated sugar and continue to mix on medium-high for another two minutes, scraping down the bowl and paddle as needed. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the orange zest, sour cream, vanilla, and orange food coloring (if using) and mix for one minute on medium-high, scraping down the bowl and paddle once more. It will look curdled at this point, but that is ok!
- With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add the whole milk and orange juice mixture in a steady stream and mix until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and give it a few stirs to make sure there are no lumps.
- Pour batter evenly between the cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pan for ten minutes before removing and continuing to cool on a wire rack or flat surface.
Make the Vanilla Buttercream
- With a hand mixer or paddle attachment on your stand mixer, cream the butter on medium-high until creamy and light (almost white) in color. About 7 minutes.
- With the mixer on low, add the powdered sugar a few cups at a time, scraping down after each addition and making sure each addition is fully incorporated before adding the next one.
- Add the whole milk, vanilla, and salt and mix on low for another minute or two until fully incorporated.
- After the cakes have cooled completely, torte each layer to the desired height, then fill and crumb coat the cake with vanilla buttercream. To create the look pictured, use this watercolor cake tutorial with orange food coloring to create a watercolor finish, then top with a white chocolate ganache half drip and pipe a simple border on top with Wilton Tip 6B.
- The Orange Cake can be made ahead and stored at room temperature, covered tightly in plastic wrap, for up to two days. Alternatively, you can cover with plastic wrap and store in the freezer for up to two months before thawing to room temperature.
- The Vanilla Buttercream can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. When you’re ready to use it, bring it back to room temperature and mix it together on low for about 30 seconds to bring it back to frosting consistency.
Did you make this cake recipe? I want to know how it went! Leave me a comment below and feel free to tag @sugarandsparrowco on Instagram to show me. I love to see what you create!