Orange & Almond 'Touch of Frosting' Cake by Juliet Sear

  • Total Time

    1h 5m
    • Prep Time

    • Bake Time

  • Serves


  • Skill Level

  • Dietary Needs

    • Vegetarian
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Our friend Juliet Sear is a baking expert, cook, food stylist, TV presenter and best selling author. Juliet has shared a few recipes with us from her book 'Botanical Baking' published by F&W Media International 2019.

A gorgeous wedding cake I made for my friend Louise Roe, which was featured in Martha Stewart Weddings, inspires this creation. It’s a delicious fairly dense cake, which isn’t too sickly sweet – more of a pudding or dessert than a standard sponge.

Enjoyed baking this recipe? Why not try one of Juliet's other recipes taken from her book? We have Botanical Chouxnuts, Rose & Lychee Cake and Spring Flowers Bundt Cake.


  1. Grease and line the bases and sides of the cake tins with baking parchment. Put the whole oranges in a large pan or couple of large pans of water, bring to the boil and simmer for 1 hour, until soft. Remove, cool, then halve and discard any seeds/pips.

    It would be lovely to use blood oranges if they are in season as a switch for regular oranges.

  2. Preheat the oven to 170°C (335°F). Whizz the orange halves (with the skin) to a purée in a food processor and place in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs.

    The amounts in this recipe are the correct for three tiers, 25cm (10in), 18cm (7in) and 10cm (4in) in diameter, each one constructed with three cake layers per tier. This is a lot of cake batter, so you may wish to deal with it in smaller batches. Cakes can be baked and frozen in advance if you wish and keep well for up to a month.

  3. Mix the polenta, almonds, baking powder, sugar and rosemary in a large bowl to evenly mix and distribute the baking powder. Add this to the wet mix.

  4. Pour the batter into the tins to the weights stated below (if you only have one tin of each size you can do this in batches) and bake for the following timings:

    45-50 for the 10”, 40-45 for the 7” and approx 30 for the 4”

    These vary as the smaller cakes will cook more quickly than the larger ones. The cakes should be risen and golden and a cake tester or skewer should come out clean when testing the centre of the cake for doneness. Get your orange drizzle ready whilst the cakes are baking.

    I weighed the batter accurately into the tins in order to keep the cake layers of a similar height. The weight of batter for the tins per layer is as follows:

    25cm (10in) round tin, three layers, each weighing 1.2kg (2lb 101/2oz)

    18cm (7in) round tin, three layers, each weighing 575g (1lb 41/2oz)

    10cm (4in) round tin, three layers, each weighing 200g (7oz)

  5. For the drizzle, dissolve the sugar in 100ml (31/2fl oz) hot water in a pan. Boil for 5 minutes but don’t let it colour. Remove from the heat and cool briefly. Add the orange blossom water, rosemary and zest.

  6. Cool the cakes in the tins for 5 minutes, then turn out, pierce with a skewer in several places and brush all over liberally with the drizzle.

  7. Use a thin board under each tier that is 2.5cm (1in) smaller than the sponges. This is so the boards do not show through, as the frosting is only a very thin, partially scraped-off layer. Stick the bottom cake of each tier to its cake board with a dollop of frosting.

  8. Your sponges may need a little trimming to make them all a similar height, although this is a rustic cake so it works well if the heights vary a little. Just layer the sponges together with a generous amount of frosting between each one, and crumb coat each cake tier scraping off the excess frosting and getting the outer surface as neat as possible. Once all the sponges are coated, use cake dowels in the base and middle tier for support, sticking them together with a little more frosting.

  9. If there are any gaps around the joins, add a touch of frosting over these with a small palette knife, or from a piping bag, to fill.

  10. Adorn with flowers, kumquats and rosemary.

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