The winter has a way of sapping all of the color from my being. Sure, in the beginning of the season it’s sort of fun when the first snow falls and all of the holiday lights are twinkling, but after two months of snow and freezing temps it starts to take a toll on my sanity.
By February I’m hating myself for making the decision to move back from Tampa to Boston which I did five years ago. I remember missing my friends in Boston desperately and aching for the fall leaf color change that has always moved me so deeply. I couldn’t get out of Tampa fast enough.
Now that I’m back and have trudged through five difficult winters, I’ve decided that color changes are overrated. And friends? While friends are definitely not overrated, they can be visited via the fine invention called the airplane and when that’s not possible Skype is the next best thing.
I miss the sun.
Moving south or even west is not currently an option. So for now I have to do whatever it takes to bring some sunshine into my life. And for me, oranges are edible sunshine. For today’s recipe I give you a cake that is loaded with zippy orange flavor and sure to brighten your day, Honey Mandarin Orange Butter Cake…
Why mandarin oranges you ask? Because I bumped into them at Whole Foods the other day when I was on a hunt for flax oil. As soon as I walked into the store I was greeted by a bushel of mandarin oranges that smelled like heaven.
With leaves and stems still intact, they immediately brought back memories of sunny Florida. Any type of orange will do, but this recipe would’ve sounded so mundane if I had called it Honey Orange Butter Cake. Mandarin sounds so much more exotic, don’t you think?
Honey also makes me think of summer and with a full one and half cups of it in this cake, you can’t help but taste it. Between that and the orange zest, you could convince yourself that it was actually summer if you closed your eyes while munching.
But one thing to note about baking with honey. It doesn’t cream together nicely with butter the way sugar does. So when you are making your batter you might get a little frustrated because there will be little lumps of butter in your cake batter. Do not fret. It doesn’t mater. It works out beautifully in the end.
Something else to note about this cake is that I’ve included finely chopped bits of orange in the batter. Doing this not only adds interesting texture, but it also keeps the cake super moist. And you get a triple whammy of orange flavor from the juice, zest and fruit.
See? Little butter lumps are not an issue. Oh how I wish you could’ve been here to smell the kitchen as these cakes were baking. Warm honey and orange scented air will lift the heaviest of winter weary spirits.
If you too are winter weary, hopefully this cake will give a happy jolt to your tastebuds. And take heart, spring is right around the corner. That’s what I keep reminding myself on a daily basis.
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1½ cups honey
- 4 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup fresh pressed mandarin orange juice (or any other type of orange)
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup mandarin oranges, finely diced
- 2 Tbsp mandarin orange zest
- 1 cup confectioners sugar
- ¼ cup honey
- ½ Tbsp melted butter
- 2 tsp mandarin orange zest
- 1½ tsp fresh pressed mandarin orange juice
- Preheat oven to 350º. Generously grease a bundt pan.
- Cream together the butter and honey in a stand mixer. (it might not be entirely smooth and that’s ok)
- Add eggs one at a time and beat over medium speed until incorporated.
- Add vanilla.
- In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well and add to the wet ingredients in the stand mixer. Beat on medium speed until it comes together.
- Add juice and milk and beat over medium speed for three more minutes.
- Remove from stand and by hand stir in the orange pieces and the zest.
- Pour into greased bundt pan and bake at 350º for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Let pan sit for ten minutes and then flip onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
- For the glaze, mix all glaze ingredients together and spoon over cake.