Baked Sunday Mornings: Orange Buttermilk Picnic Cake with Chocolate Chips

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Happy 4th of July weekend! I wish I could say I was out having a holiday picnic, but I am actually in the midst of moving, so I’m up to my ears in boxes, packing paper, and takeout food! (I’m praying that my ridiculous amount of baking crap fits into my new kitchen…) Fortunately I was able to make this tasty little cake before packing up the mixer. To celebrate the 4th, Baked Sunday Mornings made this Orange Buttermilk Picnic Cake with Chocolate Chips from Baked Occasions. I do really love making red, white, and blue desserts for Independence Day, so this is not really something I’d necessarily make for this holiday, but it’s a delicious snacking cake that you could make any time.

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I was expecting a simple, low-fuss cake, but I had a couple of problems with it. The batter comes together easily– start by combining the orange juice and buttermilk in a measuring cup, then combine the dry ingredients (flour, cake flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt) in a separate bowl. You’ll then cream the butter and light brown sugar, and add an egg and yolk. Then the flavorings go in: orange and vanilla extracts and orange zest– it will smell all citrusy/vanilla-y and this will make you happy. Make sure to mix it well– at first it will look a bit curdled.

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Add the flour mixture in alternating parts with the buttermilk/orange juice mixture; the batter will loosen to a medium thickness, and you’ll see the flecks of orange zest.

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Next comes one of the problem steps for me: you are supposed to toss the chocolate chips with a tablespoon of orange liqueur (Grand Marnier, in my case) and a teaspoon of flour. This resulted in a whitish goo covering the chips, rather than a dry flour coating to help suspend them in the batter.

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I think it would have been more effective the other way around (1 teaspoon liqueur and 1 tablespoon flour), as there is way too much liquid and it absorbs the flour. Alternatively, I feel like it would be okay to add the liqueur straight to the batter and just toss the chips in flour only. You’ll fold the chips in with a spatula, and they seem to be suspended in the thick batter at this point.

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The cake should be baked a little longer than you think it should be, because you want a sturdier snacking texture rather than a tender layer cake consistency. The book recommends 32-37 minutes, and I let mine go for about 35 minutes. It looked like it would be a handsomely tall single layer, but it sank considerably while cooling. Fortunately the cake had a perfectly level top, but it was a lot smaller than I expected, about 1″ high, as though it was missing 2 other layers for the typical BAKED 3-layer configuration. (Come to think of it, it would make a great stacked cake if you tripled the quantity and baked it a touch less.) And… most of the chocolate chips sank to the bottom. Sad face.

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While the cake bakes, you’ll boil a simple orange syrup consisting of sugar, orange juice, and Grand Marnier, which you’ll brush over the warm cake. Thus my second problem: the syrup caused the cake to have a weird gummy texture on top. The cake needs nothing more than a dusting of powdered sugar on top, which should be added right before serving.

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Despite being underwhelming in appearance, the cake had a pleasant, bright orange flavor, and the chocolate is very complementary. Instead of flat wedges, I cut it into squares and nibbled on the leftover rounded edges.

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This Orange Buttermilk Picnic Cake with Chocolate Chips is a great choice for a summer picnic, barbecue, or simply if you feel like having something with an orange zing– the recipe lives at Baked Sunday Mornings, and you can see how my fellow BSMers liked it as well. I hope everyone is having a lovely 4th of July and enjoying these long summer days! 🙂

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© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2015.

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10 Responses

  1. I had the same experience with the chocolate chips! I added an extra tsp of flour after the first one dissolved in the liqueur, then that one dissolved, so I just gave up. Loved this cake though, even though I’m not a huge fan of orange and chocolate together.

    Are you going to do a recap of your recent NYC eats? Can’t wait!

    1. Glad it wasn’t just me! If I were to make this cake again, I’d put the liqueur straight in the batter and toss the chips in just flour. I agree, I’m not a huge fan of orange/chocolate, but it was surprisingly good. I still haven’t done a recap of October’s NYC trip yet… I hope to get to it soon, but it I’m SO behind on blog posts…

  2. I’m so sorry I missed this one! I love orange & chocolate together. I think your idea of just tossing the chocolate chips in flour makes sense.

    I made 2 big birthday cakes in 2 days. I just posted John’s but completely forgot to take photos of our niece’s pink champagne cake! I hope you enjoy your new home!

  3. Definitely agree about the liqueur and the chocolate chips. Next time I will just add it tot the batter and coat the chips with flour. Yours looks awesome as always!

  4. Agree on the tossing of the chocolate chips – why not just add the liqueur to the batter? Anyway, I also found that there was too much liquid, but my chips didn’t seem to sink (curious – what brand of chips did you use?).

    I brought mine to work – and cut it into squares, too. Snack cake should be square, in my opinion!

    1. You must have magical chips– what brand? 😉 I use Guittard mini chips from Spun Sugar in Berkeley. I agree– square snack cakes for all! I don’t see why this couldn’t be baked in a square pan actually– in fact, I would do it in an 8-inch pan so the cake would be taller.

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