Orange Salted Honey Cake

Orange Salted Honey Cake - orange cake with a salted honey custard and a piped petal honey buttercream | by Tessa Huff for

5 from 2 reviews

Orange infused cake with a salted honey custard, honey buttercream and gorgeous petal piping, from Icing on the Cake by Tessa Huff.



For the Salted Honey Custard:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 ⅓ cup milk
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar, divided
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • 4 tablespoons + 1½ teaspoons cornstarch
  • 4 eggs yolks
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoon salt, or to taste

For the Orange Butter Cake:

  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon + ¼ teaspoon baking power
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup + 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fine orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs

For the Honey Buttercream:

  • 2 ½ cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 5 large egg whites
  • ¾ cup + 1 tablespoon honey
  • ¾ cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


Make the salted honey custard:

  1. Place the butter in heat-safe bowl. Set a fine-mesh sieve over the top of the bowl and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and 2 tablespoons of sugar over medium heat. Bring it slowly to a simmer then remove from the heat.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining sugar, honey, and cornstarch in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk the eggs yolks into the honey mixture until smooth.
  4. Temper the hot milk into the egg mixture by whisking in a small amount of milk into the egg mixture to slowly raise the temperature of the eggs before transferring everything back to the saucepan. Place the saucepan back on the stove and cook over medium-low heat. Continuously stirring, heat the custard until it thickens and slow, large bubbles start to pop on the surface. Whisk continuously for one minute then remove from the heat.
  5. Pour the pastry cream through the mesh sieve into the bowl with the butter. Add the vanilla and salt. Stir until smooth and cover with a piece of plastic wrap pressed directly to the surface of the pastry cream. Refrigerate until cool and thick, at least 2 hours or overnight.

Make the Orange Butter Cake:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease, flour, and line the bottoms of three 8-inch cake pans with parchment and set aside.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. In a separate bowl, stir together the buttermilk and orange juice. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, rub the sugar and orange zest together in a small bowl between your fingertips until fragrant. Add the sugar mixture to the butter and mix on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.
  4. Turn the mixer to medium-low and add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Mix until combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.
  5. Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the orange juice mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix on medium for no more than 30 seconds after the last streaks of the flour mixture are combined.
  6. Evenly divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 23 to 26 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Let them cool on a wire rack for 10 to 20 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans. Once the cakes have completely cooled, discard the parchment and level the tops of the cakes as needed.

Make the Honey Buttercream:

  • Place the eggs whites, honey, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Gently whisk them by hand until just combined. Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer. Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double-boiler. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water. Whisking intermittently, heat the egg mixture until it reaches 160°F (70°C) on a candy thermometer. Carefully fit the mixer bowl back onto the stand mixer.
  • With the whisk attachment, beat the egg white mixture on high speed for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the mixture holds medium-stiff peaks and the outside of the bowl returns to room temperature.
  • Turn the mixer down to low and add in the vanilla and butter, a couple tablespoons at a time. Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment.
  • Turn the mixer to medium-high and beat until the buttercream is silky smooth, 2 to 5 minutes.

Assemble the Cake:

  • Whisk the honey custard to loosen and smooth. Place one layer of cake on a cake board or serving plate. Fill a piping bag fitted with a plain, round tip with the honey buttercream. Pipe a ring around the outer top edge of the cake to create a “dam.” Fill the ring with half of the honey custard and smooth with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Top with the middle layer of cake and repeat. Place the last layer of cake on top. Crumb coat the cake with the honey buttercream and chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Decorate the cake:

  • Smoothly frost the cake with a thin layer of buttercream. Fill a piping bag fitted with a petal tip (Wilton #104) with buttercream. Place the cake on a rotating cake stand. Gently touch the tip to the cake, narrow end facing down, about 1-inch (2.5 cm) from the bottom of the cake. Begin piping continuous swags of buttercream around the bottom of the cake. The bottom of each swag should graze the cake board or serving dish. Continue around the cake, slightly overlapping each row, until the sides are completely covered.
  • For the top of the cake, hold the piping bag at a 45-degree angle to the top of the cake, facing away from your body. Keeping the narrow end of the tip pointing away from the center of the cake, gently squeeze the piping as you move it out away from your body and back in. Continue piping concentric circles of petals around the top of the cake clock-wise (or counter clock-wise if you are left handed), spinning the cake stand as you go. As you approach the center, tint the buttercream a soft peach color, or color of your choice, to create a gentle ombre effect. Overlap the rows of petals and increase the angle of the piping bag until you reach the center.


  • Store loosely covered with plastic wrap or in a cake box in the refrigerator until 30 minutes before serving.
  • Store leftovers covered with plastic wrap or in a cake box in the refrigerator for about 3 days.
  • Recipe from Icing on the Cake (Abrams Books 2019)