recipe: winter citrus champagne cake

because what could be more quarantine celebratory than baked booze

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt like celebrating anything. After all, amid a global pandemic, increase in racially motivated hate crimes, general social divide and well, winter, it’s easier to just wait for the light at the end of the tunnel. But if this year has taught us anything, it’s that light is where we place it. And sometimes, you don’t need a reason to celebrate.

About a year ago, I started my job in person, in an office with other humans for a precious week and a half. On my desk was a bottle of champagne from my team to celebrate my first day. A year later that bottle has been transported to my home office (no seriously, they mailed it to me along with the rest of the things on my desk) and was still sitting, unpopped, waiting for a reason for celebration.

I figured, the 1 year anniversary of the apocalypse is as much a reason as anything, and decided to take it (and the winter citruses I have accumulated) and transform it into a cake for a true celebration of whatever the past 12 months were.

Don’t worry, I didn’t bake with the Moet.

Cake recipe adapted from this recipe, mousse adapted from this recipe



  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Champagne or prosecco blood orange soaked, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp blood orange juice
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 tbsp (3/4 stick) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 drop pink food coloring (optional)
  • zest of 1 blood orange
  • Extra juice + sugar for simple syrup (maybe like quarter cup of each or less)


  • 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons champagne
  • 1 teaspoon unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Pink Champagne Buttercream Frosting

  • 2/3 sticks salted butter, at room temperature (or split 1/3 salted and 1/3 unsalted)
  • 1 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • tablespoons champagne (soak blood orange for added color)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • 1 teaspoon blood orange juice
  • 1 tbsp heavy cream (if needed to offset)
  • teeny bit of red food coloring


  • 1 cara cara orange, sliced into rounds about a quarter inch thick
  • 1 blood orange, sliced into rounds about a quarter inch think 




  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 deg and butter and flour cake tins (two 6 in or one large tray for cutting)
  2. Mix together the egg whites, champagne, vanilla, oil, juice in a bowl
  3. Sift together flour, baking powder, cornstarch
  4. Cream the sugar and the butter and zest until fluffy
  5. Add in egg mixture and flour mixture in batches, until combined
  6. Pour into cake tins, bake for about 23 minutes


  1. Bloom gelatin in 2 tbsp of champagne
  2. Combine egg yolks, 2/3 cup champagne, zest, salt and sugar in a saucepan and cook on low to medium heat, whisking constantly until thickened (about 5 min). Turn off heat.
  3. Microwave gelatin mixture at 5 second intervals, whisking in between, 3-4 times until dissolved
  4. Add gelatin mixture to egg yolk mixture and whisk until combined. Allow to cool, stirring every 1-2 min to prevent setting as it cools
  5. Whip heavy cream until stiff peaks
  6. Fold in the curd – should be pourable


  1. Once cake is done (pulling away from the sides), take out and allow to cool in the pan (loosen)
  2. Put in 3 of each orange slice in the oven at 200 degrees to dehydrate for 1-2 hours
  3. Then, take out and let cool completely
  4. Make blood orange syrup
  5. Prep assembly – line circular cake tin with plastic
  6. Add in bottom layer of cake, brush with blood orange syrup
  7. Pour in the mousse
  8. Refrigerate for 15-20 min so the mousse can slightly set



  1. beat all ingredients together until whipped
  2. optional stir in food coloring



  1. Top mousse with halved slices of cara cara orange (rinds removed)
  2. Top with the remaining cake layer (press down gently) and brush with syrup
  3. Refrigerate for 30 min – 1 hour
  4. Carefully remove plastic
  5. Put on light crumb layer of frosting using
  6. Refrigerate 20-30 min
  7. Top with final layer of frosting
  8. Top with dehydrated orange slices and fresh orange slices
  9. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before cutting in
Cheers. Here’s to never doing this again.