Orange Almond Cake with Vanilla Mouse

I’m crazy for cake. Cupcakes, layer cakes, ice cream cakes, pound cakes, chocolate, lemon, spice, carrot, marbled, bundt, and so on. And why not? Cake is the international symbol for a celebration, at the center of all of life’s great festivities, from birthdays to baptisms. But the fact that cake is undeniably party food doesn’t mean you have to wait for the next big event to bake one.

This Orange Almond Cake is a “just because” cake. Make it “just because” it’s Spring, or “just because” strawberries are in season, or “just because” you want cake at your Easter table, or “just because” everyday is worth celebrating.

The cake itself is a classic sponge style. It’s made with whole grain flour, ground almonds, and plenty of orange zest. The result is a moist, flavorful, tender cake topped with an ethereal vanilla mousse of beaten egg whites and vanilla whipped cream.  The egg whites aren’t cooked in this recipe, so I recommend using Safest Choice pasteurized eggs. Sliced strawberries crown the top, making it gorgeous both inside and out.

And if you don’t have a compelling reason to bake this cake, consider it a “just because I said so” cake.  It’s a good one.

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Orange Almond Cake with Vanilla Mousse and Strawberries

The cake can be made up to a day ahead of time. Wrap in plastic and store at room temperature. Make the mousse the day you plan to serve it and assemble just before it's time for dessert. To make this into a two-tiered cake, split the cooled cake horizontally in half using a serrated edge knife, increase the mousse and strawberries by 50 percent, spoon one-third of the mousse and one-third of the strawberries on the bottom layer of the cake, then add the second layer, top with remaining mousse and strawberries.
Servings 10 to 12 servings

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), plus more for greasing cake pan
  • 4 pasteurized eggs such as Safest Choice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • Zest of 1 medium orange
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

For the Vanilla Mousse & Strawberries

  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ½ teaspoon unsweetened gelatin
  • 2 pasteurized eggs such as Safest Choice*
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries or other favorite berries

Instructions

To make the Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter one 10-inch-round spring form pan. If you don’t have a spring-form pan, use a 10-inch cake pan, lining the bottom with a piece of parchment paper.
  2. Melt the 1/2 cup butter in the microwave or in a saucepan over the stove. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  3. Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment or electric beaters, beat the eggs on high until they have tripled in volume. You want them pale yellow and frothy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sugar, orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla. Beat again just to combine.
  4. Put the almonds in a food processor fitted with a metal blade and process, pulsing as needed, until they become the texture of coarse flour. Add the whole-wheat pastry flour, salt, and baking powder, and pulse several times to combine.
  5. Gently fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture just until combined. Fold in the melted butter and mix gently just until the batter is one even consistency.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool.

To make the Mousse

  1. Put the orange juice into a glass measuring cup or bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over. Leave for 2 minutes. Heat the gelatin/juice mixture in the microwave for 30 seconds or on the stove just until the gelatin in melted. It should no longer feel grainy to the touch. Set aside to cool to room temperature. You can expedite the cooling by setting it in a bowl of ice water.
  2. Separate the eggs, putting the whites into a large, supremely clean metal bowl. Refrigerate the yolks for another use. Whip the egg whites with the whisk attachment of an electric mixer starting on medium-low speed. After about 1 minute, when the whites begin to foam, add the cream of tartar and continue to beat, gradually increasing speed to high. Whip into stiff peaks, keeping in mind that pasteurized whites take longer to whip that non-pasteurized, so be patient. Gently transfer the whipped whites to another large bowl.
  3. Pour the heavy cream into the bowl you used to beat the whites (no need to clean it first) and whip the cream into stiff peaks, adding the sugar and vanilla about halfway through. When the orange juice/gelatin is completely cooled to room temperature, add it to the whipped cream and beat again until the cream becomes thick and luscious. Be careful not to overbeat.
  4. Add the cream to the egg whites and gently fold the two together. Chill until you are ready to serve your cake.

To assemble and serve

  1. When you are ready to serve the cake, spoon the mousse on top of the cake, spreading it until it is about ½-inch shy of the edge. Top with strawberries and serve immediately.

I am proud to be a brand ambassador for Davidson’s Safest Choice Eggs, who sponsored this post.  The opinions expressed are my own.

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