Grand Marnier Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This is a beautiful butter cake flavored with orange, almonds and little bursts of chocolate. After baking a Grand Marnier spiked syrup is brushed over the hot layers, creating a soft and moist cake, worthy of any celebration or holiday table. This recipe makes to high 9 inch layers that are split and filled to make a 4 layer cake. The Swiss Meringue Orange Buttercream flavored with orange zest and Grand Marnier is the perfect accompaniment. The Buttercream has a velvety texture that just about melts in your mouth.

The cake layers are best prepared the day before frosting to allow the syrup to soak in and evenly moisten the cake and the crumb to become firm enough before splitting and frosting. When cooled, the layers may be covered in plastic wrap and refrigerated overnight before finishing the cake.
Recipe type: Dessert | Butter Layer Cake
Serves: 10 to 12
  • 3⅔ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup sliced almonds, unblanched (about 3⅓ ounces), toasted and finely ground
  • 1⅓ cups sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon Grand Marnier liqueur
  • 1⅔ cups (3⅓ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest (about 1½ oranges)
  • 1⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • ¾ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
Grand Marnier Syrup:
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ⅔ cup Grand Marnier liqueur
Swiss Meringue Orange Buttercream:
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 1/16 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest (about 1 orange)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier, Cointreau, or Triple Sec
Garnish (optional):
  • Candy Orange Slices
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two 9 inch round layer cake pans; lightly grease the pans with shortening and dust with flour. Tip: to make baked cake easier to remove from pan, lightly grease the pan, line with parchment paper, and then lightly grease the top of the parchment paper and dust with flour.
Use cake strips around the pans to help ensure the cake rises evenly. Make a cake strip with a length of aluminum foil long enough to encircle the pan with a little overlap. Fold the strip lengthwise until it is 2 to 3 inches wide. Wrap the strip around the outside of the pan and secure it with a metal paper clip or tape.
Prepare two flat supporting surfaces at least 9 inches in diameter for unmolding the cakes after baking, such as cardboard cake rounds, baking sheets with an open side, or the loose bottoms of tart pans. Cover the surface with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and coat lightly with nonstick cooking spray, vegetable oil, or vegetable shortening.
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; sift or whisk together to mix. Add the toasted and finely ground almonds, mix well. Set aside.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, stir the sour cream, vanilla, and Grand Marnier together. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, orange zest, and sugar until light and fluffy. Tip: To cream, start by placing the butter and orange zest in the bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed begin by beating the butter and orange zest about 1 minute until it is smooth and light in color. With the mixer still on medium speed, slowly add the sugar to the butter, either one tablespoon at a time, or in a very slow steady stream, taking from 4 to 8 minutes to add all of the sugar, and beating until the butter and sugar are fully incorporated and the mixture is a light, or pale yellow color, with a fluffy texture. While adding the sugar, stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, beating until thoroughly mixed. Tip: For each egg, crack the egg into a small bowl and whisk with a fork to thoroughly break up the egg before adding to the creamed mixture. Start with the mixer on low speed so the liquid from the egg doesn’t splatter, once the egg is partially mixed increase the speed to medium. Each egg should be fully incorporated into the mixture before adding the next egg, taking about one minute to blend in each egg.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, add about one third of the flour mixture, mix just until the flour is almost completely blended. Scrape the bowl down, and add about one half of the sour cream mixture, blending just until mixed. Scrape the bowl down again and continue alternating with the flour mixture and sour cream mixture, ending with the last portion of the flour, and stirring just until blended.
  6. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Using a balloon type whisk or large rubber spatula, fold in the mini chocolate chips.
  7. Bake: Spoon the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a small offset spatula or the back of a large spoon. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until a long toothpick, wooden skewer, or cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. The cakes should just begin to come away from the sides of the pans.
  8. Shortly before the cakes are finished baking prepare the Grand Marnier syrup.
  9. Remove the cakes from the oven and place pans on a wire cooling rack. With a fork or thin skewer, poke holes at ½ inch intervals over the top of the cake layers. Using a pastry brush, brush the hot cakes with half of the Grand Marnier syrup. Reserve the remaining half of syrup to use after the cakes are unmolded.
  10. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 20 minutes before unmolding. Run a small metal spatula around the side of the pan to loosen the cakes. Set the prepared supporting surface on top of the cake and invert the cake onto it. Remove the pan and poke the bottom of the cake all over with the fork or skewer. Brush the bottom of the cakes with the remaining Grand Marnier syrup. Let the cakes cool completely. Tip: the cakes are best prepared at least one day before assembling to allow the syrup to evenly moisten the cake and the crumb to become firm enough before splitting and frosting. When cooled, the layers may be covered in plastic wrap and refrigerated overnight.
Grand Marnier Syrup:
  1. Meanwhile, while the cake is baking, prepare the Grand Marnier syrup. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the sugar and orange juice, heat and stir until sugar is dissolved; do not boil. Remove pan from heat and stir in the Grand Marnier. Set aside until the cakes are finished baking.
Swiss Meringue Orange Buttercream:
  1. In a large bowl of an electric stand mixer combine egg whites, sugar, and salt; place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Using a wire whisk, whisk constantly by hand until the mixture is hot, about 3 to 5 minutes. Tip: the mixture should reach about 130 degrees using a candy or instant read thermometer to gauge the temperature, or feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips. Remove from heat.
  2. Attach the bowl to the electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium high speed for 5 to 7 minutes or until the mixture forms a thick fluffy meringue and is cool. Tip: Touch the meringue and make sure it has cooled to room temperature. Also the outside of the bowl should feel cool to the touch.
  3. Stop the mixer, remove the whisk and attach the paddle. With the mixer on medium speed add the butter, about 2 tablespoons at a time and mixing 20 to 30 seconds after each addition. Add the orange zest with the first butter addition. While adding the butter, stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly. Add the vanilla and orange liqueur and continue beating until the Buttercream is thick and smooth, about another 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Buttercream should be used immediately, or refrigerate or freeze until needed.
  1. Using a long serrated kitchen knife, split each cake into 2 horizontal layers. Grand Marnier CakeTip: Cut one of the cake layers so that the bottom half is thicker than the top half, and use the thicker bottom half as the 1st layer to provide a good base to support the upper layers.
  2. Place the thicker bottom half of the layers on a cake plate. Using an offset spatula spread about 1 cup of the Buttercream on top, about ¼ inch thick. Repeat with the next two layers. Place the last cake layer on top. Cover the sides and top of the cake with the remaining Buttercream.
Garnish (optional):
  1. Place candy orange slices around the bottom edge of the cake.
Adapted From: Beranbaum, Rose Levy, Rose's Heavenly Cakes, John Wiley & Sons, Inc, New Jersey, 1009
Recipe Notes
Pan: Two 9" Round Layers Pan Prep: Greased and Floured Oven Temp: 350° Storage: Cover and Refrigerate

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