A Walk In the Park to Make and Take: Orange Buttermilk Picnic Cake with Chocolate Chips

During a recent snow day, I still had plenty of time on my hands even after baking some Ischler cookies, so I also decided to make the "Orange Buttermilk Picnic Cake with Chocolate Chips" from Baked Occasions. I had all of the ingredients handy, and this is a very simple cake -- a single layer with no frosting (although there is a soaking syrup).

Oddly enough, this recipe is in the cookbook for Independence Day.  I would have imagined some sort of red and blue fruit dessert, but I guess that is rather cliché. And I have done the D.C. Fourth of July picnic thing where you pack up a cooler, head into the sweltering heat, navigate the security checkpoints, and fight the crowds to stake out a space on the National Mall to see the fireworks -- a cake like this would travel well for such a full-day ordeal.

To make the batter for this cake, you cream brown sugar and softened butter; add an egg and egg yolk, followed by orange extract, vanilla, and orange zest; and alternately add the remaining dry ingredients (all-purpose flour, cake flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder) and liquid ingredients (buttermilk and orange juice). The final step is to fold in miniature chocolate chips that have been tossed in orange liqueur and coated in flour. You pour the batter into a parchment-lined 9-inch round pan and bake.
While the cake is still warm from the oven, you poke holes all over it and brush it with a syrup of orange juice and sugar (Grand Marnier is listed as optional and I left it out). I doubled the recipe and baked two cakes. My husband and I tried a slice from one cake and I covered the remainder with a dome (after it was already completely cool) because I didn't want the cut surface to dry out. I left the other intact cake uncovered on a wire rack overnight. The following morning, the cake that had been covered was very moist -- too moist. The recipe actually notes that because this is a "picnic cake," you don't want it "failling-apart moist." The cake that had been left out uncovered had the perfect texture -- moist (especially on top because of the syrup), but easy to handle and consume as a hand food. So I would advise storing this cake uncovered, or in a breadbox or some other container that is not sealed.

I really like the flavor of the cake -- a beautiful bright orange, intensified by the sweet syrup, punctuated with just the right amount of chocolate bits. I generally like chocolate and citrus together, and this cake was no exception. The cake was a hit with tasters and I would make it again, especially for an occasion where I needed a non-fussy dessert that can travel with ease.

Recipe: "Orange Buttermilk Picnic Cake with Chocolate Chips" from Baked Occasions by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.


Robyn said…
I would totally make this again! Simple, delicious and quick to pull together. I would just leave out the orange zest! Not a huge fan of orange & chocolate together.
Anonymous said…
I agree, it's not really a cake I would associate with the 4th of July holiday, but I think it's perfect for summer in general. I, too, had an unpleasant gummy top-- good to know about covering vs. not covering. Although I had a couple of minor issues with it, I still found it tasty.
Unknown said…
We liked it very much- of course we are big chocolate/orange fans!
Sheri said…
I like that the 4th of July entry in the book is a picnic cake - so many red white and blue desserts flooding magazines and the Internet at this time of year! And I too associate the 4th with a more homey celebration, with picnics and the day spent outdoors.

Good tip on the moistness! I found the same thing.