Triple-Layer White Cake with Orange Curd Filling

My father has always been the baker in the family. (Mom claims she baked plenty of cakes for us growing up, but since it has been more than 20 years since we all left home, none of us remember and we just have to take her word for it.) Family gatherings such as the one we just had this Easter weekend are the perfect excuse for dad to do his thing, bake some over-the-top, takes-days-to-make, several-trips-to-the-store-for-forgotten-ingredients wondrous dessert.

This triple-layer white cake with an orange curd filling is one of his favorite recipes (from Bon Appétit). It’s a little dense, but really good. You have to make the orange curd a day ahead of time, so factor that into your planning if you try it out.

Triple-Layer White Cake with Orange Curd Filling Recipe



Orange curd

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 9 large egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Cake: Dry ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Cake: Wet ingredients

  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange peel
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cake: Egg white ingredients

  • 6 large egg whites (see note on separating eggs, start with room temperature egg whites)
  • Pinch salt
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar

Frosting ingredients

  • 10 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 2/3 cups powdered sugar


Orange Curd

1 Put the lemon juice in a small bowl and sprinkle gelatin over it. Let sit for 15 minutes.

2 Whisk together the sugar, orange juice, egg yolks, orange zest and lemon zest in a thick-bottomed saucepan. Add the butter and whisk over medium heat until the mixture thickens and bubbles start to appear at the edge of the pan, about 9 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the gelatin mixture. Whisk the mixture until the gelatin dissolves. Transfer the curd mixture to a bowl, wrap with plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the curd (so that no air touches it) and refrigerate overnight.


1 Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour three 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Sift the flour, 1 1/4 cups sugar, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl.

2 Whisk the oil and egg yolks in large bowl until well blended. Whisk in the sour cream, then the milk, orange peel, and vanilla. Whisk in the dry ingredients in 3 additions.

3 Using electric mixer, beat egg whites with a pinch of salt in another large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 2/3 cup sugar, while beating on hight speed until you have stiff peaks.

4 Gently fold the egg whites into the batter in 4 additions. (Do not overmix!)

5 Divide batter among prepared pans. Bake cakes until the center is just golden, a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, and the cake pulls away very slightly from pan, about 20 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 5 minutes. Cut around pan sides. Turn cakes out onto racks and cool completely.

6 Place one cake layer, flat side up, on 8-inch tart pan bottom or platter. Spread 1 cup of the orange curd over the cake. Top with the second cake layer, flat side down. Spread 1 cup of the curd over the layer. Top with the third cake layer, flat side down. Cover and refrigerate the assembled cake.


1 Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in medium bowl until smooth. Beat in powdered sugar, then 3/4 cup orange curd.

2 Spread frosting over cake. (Can be made a day ahead. Cover with cake dome; refrigerate.)

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Recipe from Bon Appétit magazine.

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  1. Noel

    Wow, that looks like it takes a long time to make. But I must say, that cake looks absolutely delicious! I used to bake a lot, until I realized I didn’t want to end up eating everything. My mom is a pastry chef, maybe I’ll ask her to make it, she likes tough projects like this.

  2. Shawnda

    The recipe sounds wonderfully refreshing!

  3. Patricia Scarpin

    This is a cake I’d love to make. It looks wonderful and I’m sure this orange filling is delicious and different from all the cake fillings I know.

  4. Janelle

    My mouth watered the instant I saw the picture! Yum!

  5. Espahan

    I love baking cakes. After several failures with boxed cakes, in my early cooking years, they always fell, I switched to making cakes from scratch. I’ve had success ever since. Weird, huh? This recipe is definitely going on my ‘to do’ list. The orange curd sounds yummy, and very different. To bad I’m not that crazy for cream cheese frosting. What else could I use in its place?

  6. Hazel

    That is a very intimidating recipe! hahah

    Looks absolutely delicious, but I don’t think I have enough spare time to actually try this out. I’ve always beend scared of baking complicated recipes such as this.

  7. Jen

    Janelle- I’ll bet a whipped cream frosting would be fantastic. Nice and light, not competing with the orange curd.

  8. lindy

    My, this looks sooo creamy and refreshing with the orange curd, I can almost taste it !! As always, thank you for sharing your wonderful recipes along with your beautiful photos.

  9. Nidha

    Hi Elise,

    All the times, I’ve used granulated or castor sugar in my cake recipes, they have never turned out well. I always end up with granulated sugar in the baked cake. The sugar’s supposed to dissolve, right?

  10. Garrett

    Damn, your dad and I need to get together for some serious baking. We can take over the world I bet.

  11. elyssa

    I’m not a big cake person, but this looks ablsolutely deeeelish! Sounds like it would a refreshing change from all the buttercream and chocolate ones you run across alot. Love you site!

  12. Erin

    I am in the process of making this cake for my brother’s fiancee’s graduation party. She, her mom, and her younger sister are three of the pickiest eaters I have ever met. They are the only women I know who won’t even eat salad! We went to lunch once at Red Robin (which serves hamburgers and chicken burgers topped lots of different ways for those of you who aren’t familiar), and all three of them ordered a plain chicken sandwich!

    The cake that I was requested to bake just wasn’t doing it for me – yellow cake with chocolate ganache frosting. I bake a lot and I enjoy baking things that make people stop and say, “Wow! I can’t believe this didn’t come from a bakery!” I had to sell my soon-to-be sister-in-law on the idea of a cake with a fruit filling (the response I first got was, “Ick – I hate cakes with filling in them!” and, if this is possible, I *heard* her making a disgusted face through the phone), but I promised that it would be delectable. I have discovered that this girl is not nearly as picky as she thinks – e.g., she claims she doesn’t like lemons, lemonade, anything lemon flavored, etc., yet she ate EVERY lemon cookie I made last Christmas, including the lemon-glazed lemon shortbread jumbles. I have a feeling the orange cake will be a success.

    I made the orange curd last night and this morning I had a bowl of creamy, sweet-tart heaven (I had to taste it, of course!). The party is Saturday (Cinco de Mayo!) and I will try to report back as to how the cake turned out and if it was enjoyed by all. I hope the tart orange flavor goes well with margaritas! It may be an overload of citrus, but I personally won’t mind.

  13. Erin

    ***This is an update on the cake for the graduation party.***

    It was a big hit! Everyone loved it and was eating the leftovers for breakfast Sunday morning. I made 2 10-inch rounds instead of 3 9-inch rounds and torted them so I actually had a 4 layer cake. The cakes took a few extra minutes to bake but there were no adverse effects.

    My cakes did not turn out to be “heavy” or what I would describe to be dense. They were fairly light and fluffy. You have to be exceptionally careful to not overmix the egg whites, otherwise you will get a very heavy cake. It is better to have the batter be slightly lumpy than overmixed.

    My mom’s favorite part was the orange cream cheese frosting, as was my husband’s. I personally enjoyed the orange curd and the cake itself. My brother’s fiancee liked everything about it, and asked if it would be too much work for me to make this cake for their wedding! (My answer was YES – since they are having 300 people!!!!)

    I am also pleased to report that the cake went well with the (beer) margaritas. It sounds strange, but the best way to make margaritas without a mix is to use a 12 oz can of frozen limeade and mix it with one can of water, one 12 oz beer, and one can of tequila. You can also add some triple sec if you like. Serve it over lots of ice and enjoy along with the cake!

    Thanks for a great recipe, Elise!

  14. Ngoc

    Hi Elise,

    This was an amazing cake. I’ve always been terrified of baking cakes, but the photo alone convinced me to try. Loved it!

  15. hyo

    Hi there,

    This looks fabulous but I must ask: what exactly is the difference between grating an orange, for example, and obtaining the zest of an orange? I take it the grating is a more coarse version of the peel, while the zest is quite fine. Can I get some clarification? I would really love to try this recipe; looks like a nice little adventure for this novice baker :).

  16. TT

    I made this and it came out great !! I like to mix recipes or tweak them, so I made a different recipe for the curd which didnt use so many egg yolks, but I did add the lemon and it was really good. The only thing was that the frosting was a little loose (but tasty)…but that could be because I used light cream cheese and a shot of sour cream for “twang”.

    Thanks for posting this recipe !


  17. Luvsseattle

    I must thank you (and your father!) for this wonderful cake recipe. I spent the better part of Saturday making all the parts of the cake/curd. The cake was for my mother’s (60th) and father’s (62nd) birthdays! Boy was it a hit…even among the pickier eaters in the family (WHO HAD SECONDS!!). I will treasure this recipe and I have come to the conclusion that I CAN bake. :) Thank You!

  18. Megan

    I made this yesterday as I needed a Superbowl dessert and felt like making a cake. This was incredibly delicious, decadent yet light. It was gobbled up quickly! Thanks for the recipe:)

  19. Kimberly

    I tried this recipe over the weekend because of the delicious picture. It turned out pretty well..but I fear I did something wrong because the orange curd was a little watery and kept leeking out of the cake…consquently only a very thin layer of curd was left inside..haha.

    The cake, however, was very good, and the frosting delicious…I just wish that we had more curd inside for that wonderful orange flavor..however, we do have some curd leftover in a bowl I guess we’ll just slop it over a slice whenever we eat some :)

  20. Amy

    I needed a white cake recipe for cupcakes, so I gave this one a go (leaving out the orange peel). They turned out ok. They flavor is good, but the cupcakes don’t have a “pretty dome”… they are rather flat. We’ll cover them with frosting, so it’s not a problem, but I’m a little sad that they collapsed after I took them out of the oven.

  21. Julie Rember

    I made this cake last night for a Spring Equinox party and it was delicious! I live at 6,500 feet and my high-altitude conversions worked great. I increased the cake flour to 3 cups, decreased the first sugar measurement to 1 cup, and decreased the baking powder to 1/2 teaspoon. It needed 25 minutes baking time — next time I might increase the oven temperature a bit. I also used a whipped cream frosting instead of the cream cheese frosting. I folded some orange curd and zest into the whipped cream (had to let the curd sit out for a bit because it was very firm). It was light and delicious, perfect for spring. Not a single bit was left over! Thanks for a wonderful recipe and a fantastic site, Elise!

  22. Barb Sanders

    Not a cake for the novice cake baker. However I have just pulled mine from the oven so I can say I actually did it! The curd will keep a week in the frig with plastic wrap covering the top. That’s when I started the cake but company arrived and baked another one instead. Today I pulled the curd out and it tasted wonderful. That alone inspired me to give it a try. This is a cake made with LOVE.

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