Two years ago I was browsing Pinterest and found an amazing looking cake called Orange Crunch Cake. I pinned the recipe to my expansive “Treats” board and then tried to find a good excuse, and the opportunity, to make it.
As my husband’s birthday approached this year, I remembered the recipe and thought it would be the perfect occasion for Orange Crunch Cake. But, alas, when I clicked through to the blog (called Gingerbread Bagels) where it had been hosted, I discovered that it and all of the recipes had been deleted! That’s one of the few drawbacks of Pinterest — great links aren’t always forever. Fortunately I was able to scrounge up the recipe courtesy of the Wayback Machine.
My cake came out so great that I wanted to share the recipe here and preserve it for future reference (I’ve tweaked it just a little bit). It’s a classic, and I’m sure I’ll find an excuse to make it again.
I’m not sure who originally invented Orange Crunch Cake, but I know this recipe was inspired by a restaurant on Captiva Island in Florida called The Bubble Room. Their towering Orange Crunch Cake with orange tinted frosting has become a cult hit, from what I’ve read. It looks like a fabulously kitschy place that I would love to visit someday, and I will definitely try the cake!
I looked around for other Bubble Room Orange Crunch Cake recipes and there were a few out there, but most involved boxed cake mix, whipped topping, orange juice in a carton, etc., which wasn’t what I was going for. This one is mostly from scratch (if you don’t count the ready-made graham cracker crumbs), and doesn’t involve any artificial coloring, unless you’d like to tint the frosting for decorating purposes. The freshly squeezed orange juice and orange zest lend a wonderful, delicate orange flavor.
Except for my family’s tried and true Chocolate Dump Cake recipe, I rarely attempt cakes from scratch. Working with a looming birthday party deadline isn’t the best time for experimentation. But this time I felt up to the challenge, and I’m so glad I tried it. While it was a little bit time consuming due to the various steps, it wasn’t at all difficult.
I was delighted to find that the end result was a moist, dense cake with just the right hint of orange flavor. And if you’re a huge streusel fan like I am, you will love the graham cracker crumb crust in the center! The cake received rave reviews from my family, and I bet you’ll be looking for an excuse to try it, too.
Orange Crunch Cake Recipe
Author: Adapted from Gingerbread Bagels blog (no longer online)
Recipe type: Cake
- 1 cup Graham Cracker Crumbs
- ½ cup packed Light Brown Sugar
- ½ cup Sliced Almonds
- ½ cup Unsalted Butter, melted
- 2 cups Flour
- 2½ teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1½ cups White Sugar
- ½ cup Whole Milk
- ⅓ cup Vegetable Oil
- 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
- 3 large Eggs, room temperature
- 3 large Oranges
- 8 ounces Cream Cheese, softened
- ½ cup Unsalted Butter, softened
- 3 cups Powdered Sugar
- Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans (or spray with baking spray).
- Combine graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, sliced almonds and melted butter in a mixing bowl. Use your fingers to crumble the ingredients together.
- Divide the crumb mixture evenly between the two pans and press into the bottoms with your fingers or a spoon. Set aside.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
- Grate 2 Tablespoons of orange zest for the cake, plus an extra teaspoon of orange zest for the icing. Squeeze ½ cup fresh orange juice for the cake, plus 2 more teaspoons of fresh orange juice for the icing.
- Using a stand mixer or a hand mixer, mix together the white sugar, milk, ½ cup orange juice, vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 Tablespoons of orange zest and the eggs, until smooth.
- Slowly add in the flour mixture and mix until smooth.
- Divide the cake batter evenly between the two pans, pouring over the crumb layer.
- Bake the cakes at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove onto a cooling rack. If some of the crumb layer sticks in the pan, simply remove from the pan and press back into place on the cake.
- For the frosting, mix together the cream cheese, butter, 1 teaspoon orange zest, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice until smooth. Refrigerate the frosting while the cakes cool completely.
- To assemble the cake, place the bottom layer with the crumb layer on the top side onto a cake plate or cake stand. Carefully spread frosting over the crumb layer until covered (approximately ¼ inch thick).
- Place the second layer on the cake with the crumb layer on the bottom. Use the remaining frosting to cover the top and the sides of the cake.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.
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