This orange vanilla bean cake recipe is moist, tender, and has wonderful flavor! If you love orange cakes, you must try this recipe!
No matter what time of year, orange cake is always a popular choice. This refreshing layer cake is soft, moist, and has the perfect amount of orange and vanilla flavor with tiny flecks of vanilla bean in every slice.
How to Make Orange Vanilla Bean Cake
You can find the full, printable recipe at the bottom of this post, or by clicking the "skip to recipe" button at the very top of this post ;0) - Here is just a quick rundown of our steps!
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, grease and flour three 8 inch x 2 inch round cake pans. I also like to line my pans with circles of parchment or wax paper. *If lining pans with wax paper, be careful not to forget to peel it off of the finished cake layers- it becomes completely transparent!
- Combining the Dry Ingredients: In a medium sized bowl, add the flour, baking powder, salt, and orange zest. Whisk to blend for 30 seconds and set aside.
- Combining the Wet Ingredients: In another bowl, combine the sour cream, milk, orange juice concentrate (thawed), vanilla bean paste, and orange extract.
- Butter and Sugar: In the bowl of your mixer, beat the softened butter until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and beat on medium speed for 3-5 minutes until fluffy and lightened in color.
- Adding the Eggs: Add the room temperature eggs one at a time, mixing until the yellow of the yolk disappears.
- Alternating dry and wet ingredients: With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and the sour cream mixture alternately, beginning and ending with the flour mixture (3 additions of dry ingredients, 2 of wet). Add the drops of coloring gel at this time also if you are tinting the batter.
- Slightly increase the speed and mix batter just until combined. Do not mix above medium speed or over-mix.
- Divide the batter between the three prepared 8 inch cake pans.
- Time to Bake! Bake at 325 degrees for 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached.
Orange Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting
There are many frostings and fillings that would pair well with our orange vanilla cake layers, but we decided to go with a twist on our classic cream cheese frosting recipe.
We use both orange extract and vanilla bean paste in this recipe. As written, the orange flavor is a bit more pronounced than the vanilla bean, however feel free to play around with the orange extract and vanilla amounts if you'd prefer more vanilla bean flavor!
It is delicious, creamy, not too sweet, and pipes great too! As with all cream cheese frostings, this orange vanilla bean version is softer than your average buttercream.
For this reason, keep in mind that if it is too soft for you to frost the cake, just pop it in the refrigerator for a few minutes to firm things up. You can also do this with your filled piping bags as needed!
Other fillings and frostings that would pair well with orange vanilla cake layers!:
Classic Vanilla Buttercream (You can substitute vanilla bean paste for the vanilla if you you'd like- or add a little orange extract!)
Whipped Orange Mascarpone Frosting (as used in our Orange Pineapple Cake recipe)
Orange Cream Filling (as used in our Orange Dreamsicle Cake recipe)
Assembling & Decorating the Orange Vanilla Bean Cake
Place the first cooled cake layer on the cake base or pedestal. Spread with Orange Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting.
Repeat for the next two cake layers.
Fill in any remaining gaps between the cake layers with frosting, and then crumb coat the cake with a thin layer of frosting. At this point, I always like to chill my crumb coated cake in the freezer for about 15 minutes or so to firm up the frosting.
This optional chilling step is helpful because it ensures that the cake will be nice and firm as you apply the final coat of frosting.
I applied the final coat of cream cheese frosting to the cake, smoothed it with a bench scraper while rotating it on the turntable, and then created ridges in the frosting by applying a small tapered offset spatula to the side of the cake as I continued to rotate it on the turntable.
I made a quick spiral in the frosting on top of the cake by applying an offset spatula to the top center and then rotated the cake while creating ridges in the frosting, moving further out with each rotation.
Finally, I added a bead border on top with a small round tip 3, and a shell border around the base with a medium star tip 21.
What is Vanilla Bean Paste?
If you've never baked with Vanilla Bean Paste before, you may be surprised to learn that it is not a paste at all- it has a much more fluid, syrup consistency.
This rich and delicious vanilla "paste" is a combination of vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, and a natural thickener. It is a happy medium between vanilla extract and vanilla pods, and the rich vanilla flavor is heavenly!
I also love the beautiful look of the vanilla bean flecks in cakes and desserts that use vanilla bean paste. You could get this same effect by scraping out vanilla bean pods, but using vanilla bean paste is so much more convenient!
Can I substitute Vanilla Extract for Vanilla Bean Paste?
Yes! If you don't have vanilla bean paste on hand, don't worry. You can use your favorite vanilla extract in this recipe with wonderful results- simply substitute the same amount of vanilla extract in place of the vanilla bean paste.
Also keep in mind that you can substitute vanilla bean paste for any recipe calling for vanilla extract if you are feeling fancy and want to kick up the vanilla flavor a bit!
Can Vanilla Bean Pods be Substituted for Vanilla Bean Paste?
While I haven't tried this myself, the most common formula that I have seen for using scraped-out Vanilla Bean Pods instead of Vanilla Bean Paste or Vanilla Extract is that 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract is equivalent to one 2-inch piece of vanilla bean.
So, the typical vanilla bean pod would give you the equivalent of 3-4 teaspoons of vanilla extract. As with anything, taste and adjust to your liking.
More Citrus Cakes to Try!
We love light and fruity cakes year-round, but we especially crave them in the spring and summer! Here are just a few of our favorite citrus flavored cakes, from orange cakes to lemon cakes and more!
- Orange Dreamsicle Cake and Orange Dreamsicle Cake- Doctored Cake Mix
- Lemon Cake from Scratch and Lemon Cake Mix cake
- Lemon Buttermilk Cake
- Lemon Blueberry Sour Cream Pound Cake
- Lemon Orange Pound Cake
- Orange Pineapple Cake
- Orange Spice Cake- Doctored Mix
- Lemon Coconut Cake
- 2 Sticks (226 g) unsalted butter, slightly softened
- 2 cups (400 g) sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temperature (you can add to warm water to bring to room temp)
- 1 cup (242 g) sour cream (we use full fat)
- ⅓ cup (81g) milk (we use whole milk)
- ¾ cup (190g) frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
- 1 Tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons Vanilla Bean Paste (you can substitute vanilla extract if you like)
- 1 Tablespoon (10g) Orange Extract (we used McCormick brand)
- 3 cups (342 g) cake flour *See substitution below
- 3 teaspoons (12g) baking powder
- ½ teaspoon (4g) salt
- zest of one orange
- Orange Coloring Gel (optional. We used a small amount.)
Orange Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 sticks ,1 cup, (226g) unsalted butter, slightly softened
- 2 (8oz) packages cream cheese (total weight 452g) I use full fat cream cheese. Using reduced fat or the spreadable cream cheese will cause the frosting to be too soft. Slightly softened.
- 2 teaspoons (8 g) vanilla bean paste
- 1 teaspoon (4 g) orange extract
- ½ teaspoon salt (2g) optional
- 6 to 6 ½ cups (690g to 747g) powdered sugar, sifted
- Orange coloring gel (optional)
For the Cake
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, grease and flour three 8 inch x 2 inch round cake pans. I also like to line my pans with circles of parchment or wax paper. (You could use 2 cake pans for slightly thicker layers if you would rather, but we like the additional layer filling.)
- In a medium sized bowl, add the flour, baking powder, salt, and orange zest. Whisk to blend for 30 seconds. Set aside.
- In another bowl or measuring cup, combine the sour cream, milk, orange juice concentrate (thawed), vanilla bean paste, and orange extract.
- In the bowl of your mixer, beat the softened butter until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and beat on medium speed for 3-5 minutes until fluffy and lightened in color.
- Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until the yellow of the yolk disappears.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and the sour cream mixture alternately, beginning and ending with the flour mixture (3 additions of dry ingredients, 2 of wet). Add the drops of coloring gel at this time also if you are tinting the batter.
- Slightly increase speed and mix batter just until combined, do not mix above medium speed or over-mix.
- Divide the batter between the three prepared 8 inch cake pans.
- Bake at 325 degrees for 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached. **Check on your cakes as you approach the end time, bake times may vary. Let the cakes cool 5-10 minutes, then turn out.
For the Orange Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting
- Cut the butter into slices and add to the bowl of your mixer. Beat on low to medium speed until the butter is softened and smooth.
- Cut the softened cream cheese into pieces and add to the butter, beating at low to medium speed until incorporated. If you are using a hand mixer you may need to soften the cream cheese a bit more.
- Add the vanilla bean paste and orange extract. Gradually add the powdered sugar beating on low speed until blended. Cover the bowl with a towel to keep down the cloud of powdered sugar.
- Add a bit or orange coloring gel if you'd like. Increase mixing speed and mix until fluffy. Don't over beat or it will become too soft. If it becomes too soft, just refrigerate a short while to firm it up a bit.
- This frosting will pipe best if used while still chilled. You can make it in advance, refrigerate and when ready to use let it soften slightly (do not microwave) and remix.
- Will frost a 3 layer 8 or 9 inch cake.
Substitution for Cake Flour: If you have no cake flour, here is a substitution: For each cup of flour in a recipe, remove 2 Tablespoons of flour and replace with 2 Tablespoons cornstarch (cornflour in the UK). This recipe has 3 cups of flour so you will measure out 3 cups of all purpose flour, remove 6 Tablespoons and replace with 6 Tablespoons cornstarch, whisk to blend.
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