Satsuma Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Should you ever find yourself in possession of 15 pounds of satsumas, here’s what you should do…

Vertical image of a dessert covered in frosting with oranges and green leaves, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

Well, let me backtrack a bit. Maybe you’re wondering why you have this citrus fruit in the first place.

Say it’s because of a killer sale at the grocery store. A sale you’d been anticipating for days. These days were spent studying recipes, dreaming and wondering about things like ice cream or salad or marmalade or jam, formulated specifically to use this special seasonal produce.

And say you’d teamed up with your brother-in-law to order three boxes, since the store was offering a fourth box free. Say you’d wandered out on a Friday night, three boxes of tiny mandarin oranges in your cart, nearly exploding with excitement to begin the marathon of making all those recipes you’d tirelessly researched.

Vertical image of a decorated cake with white icing, orange segments, and green leaves on a cake stand.

To start, give some away.

After all, it’s winter, the season of celebrating. So why not extend the holiday feasting by a few extra weeks?

These fruits are a rare treat. In the United States, they are only in season late October/early November through late December/early January, and only grown in California and throughout a few southeastern states. They’re easy to peel and very juicy, with a concentrated orange flavor.

Vertical image of a whole cake covered in thick icing with orange garnishes on a cake stand.

Sharing will make you feel happy and joyful. The small act of giving unexpected gifts (even little ones like a satsuma or two) will become a special tradition, a cherished memory.

Then, with the boxes you have leftover at home, here’s what you do next:

Eat a few of them – you will fall in love with their easy-to-remove peels and sweet flavor.

Have one when you get up in the morning, or before bed at night. Take some with you in the car, or pack one in your lunch each day.

They’re so delicious eaten fresh – all of those daydreams of cooking or canning will almost vanish.

Almost.

Vertical top-down image of a whole citrus cake with a slice cut out of it surrounded by whole citrus fruit and leaves.

Before they’re all gone – and trust me, you’ll be glad you did this – save three or four, and make a tasty dessert.

It’s time to bake this satsuma layer cake.

Take fluffy rounds of moist yellow cake and layer them with individual citrus segments and a simple cream cheese frosting. Reserve a few extra pieces to decorate the top.

Beautiful and bright, this homemade dessert reminds me of a fancy bakery confection, with just the right amount of sweetness, a moist texture, and bursts of juicy orange flavor in every bite.

Vertical close-up image of a citrus and leaf garnish on a dessert.

Prepare to wish satsumas were on sale every week, and that the season lasted all year long.

Print
Horizontal image of a decorated dessert garnished with citrus segments and green leaves surrounded by whole fruit and a white towel.

Satsuma Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting


  • Author: Shanna Mallon
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: One 2-layer cake 1x

Description

When it’s winter and satsumas are on sale, you must make this cake with cream cheese frosting, yellow cake, and bursts of juicy satsuma.


Scale

Ingredients

For the Cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • Zest of 2 satsumas

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 8 ounces (1 block) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 45 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Zest of 2 satsumas

For Decorating:

  • 46 satsumas, segmented
  • Satsuma leaves (optional)

Instructions

For the Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 8-inch round cake pans, or 2 6-inch square cake pans, with parchment paper. Spray the bottom and sides of the pans with nonstick cooking oil spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar together on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together vanilla, milk, and zest. On low speed, alternate adding the flour and liquid mixtures to the creamed butter, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape the bowl with a spatula and mix a final time to combine.
  5. Divide the batter between the two pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on the pan size used, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center of each comes out clean.
  6. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pans for 15 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks before decorating with frosting and fruit.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on high speed until completely smooth and lightly whipped, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the confectioners’ sugar one cup at a time. Depending on how thin/thick it is, you may need to add a close to 5 cups. Beat on medium speed until thick and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the milk, flavoring extracts, salt, and zest. Beat on high speed for an additional 2 minutes.
  4. When ready to decorate, spread a thick layer of frosting on one layer. Arrange a layer of satsuma segments on top. Gently cover with a thin layer of frosting. Place the other layer of cake on top. Decorate the top and sides as desired with frosting, and garnish with additional fruit segments and satsuma leaves.
  5. Serve immediately, or store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Dessert

Keywords: satsuma, vanilla cake, cream cheese, cream cheese frosting, mandarin orange

Cooking by the Numbers…

Step 1 – Prep

Horizontal image of assorted dry ingredients, eggs, and butter on plates and in bowls.

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Line 2 8-inch round baking pans, or 2 6-inch square pans, with parchment paper. Spray the bottom and sides of the pans with nonstick cooking oil spray. If you prefer thinner layers, go for the 8-inch pans. Set them aside while you make the batter.

Measure out all of the ingredients needed for the batter. For a final batter that is homogenous and blended well, be sure that all of your refrigerated ingredients (unsalted butter, eggs, milk) are at room temperature.

This picture shows double the amount used in our recipe. We just had to make more of this delish treat for our family and friends!

Step 2 – Make the Batter

Horizontal image of a hand holding a spatula with a thick light yellow batter over whole citrus fruit.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt with a whisk.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and granulated sugar together on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Whisk together the vanilla extract and milk.

On low speed, add the flour mixture alternatively with the liquid mixture to the creamed butter, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape the bowl with a spatula and re-mix.

For more information on making perfect layers, we suggest reading our guide to basic cake baking!

Wish you had even more orange flavor? The growing season is short, so take full advantage! Slice segments from one satsuma in half, and gently mix them into the batter.

Step 3 – Bake

Horizontal image of two metal pans with a light yellow batter on a white towel surrounded by whole citrus fruit.

Divide the batter evenly between the two pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, depending on the pan size used, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and let cool in the pans for 15 minutes before inverting to remove the rounds. Cool completely on cooling racks.

Horizontal image of a baked yellow dessert in small metal pans surrounded by whole citrus fruit and a white towel.

You need to make sure the rounds are completely cool before decorating. You don’t want to melt the frosting!

Step 4 – Make the Frosting

Horizontal image of a metal bowl with a thick and fluffy white icing and zest.

Before making the frosting, be sure both the butter and cream cheese are at room temperature to ensure a smooth and fluffy texture. If they are still cold, they won’t fully blend and will leave small chunks in the finished frosting.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on high speed until completely smooth and lightly whipped, about 3 minutes.

Add the confectioners’ sugar one cup at a time. Beat on medium speed to incorporate between additions and continue beating until thick and fluffy, about 5 minutes. You might not need all of the sugar to reach your desired texture.

Add the milk, flavoring extracts, salt, and zest. Beat on high for an additional 2 minutes until fully incorporated.

Step 5 – Decorate

If necessary, slice the rounded tops of the cake rounds to make a flat layer for decorating.

Place one layer on a turntable. Cover the top with a thick layer of frosting. Place satsuma segments in a circular pattern on top of the frosting. Gently cover with a thin layer of frosting.

Place the other layer on top. Frost the top. You can also frost the sides, or leave them exposed.

Horizontal image of a slice of orange cake on a brown plate.

Use the remaining fruit segments to decorate the top and sides as you wish!

You can even use clean satsuma leaves for garnish. They are often left intact when you purchase these from the farmers market or grocery store. Just remove them before serving, since they’re not edible.

Want some more help with making the prettiest dessert possible? Get our advice on decorating!

Slice, eat, and enjoy.

Can I Make This Sans Satsuma?

Reality check: you’re going to be craving this dessert even when it’s not satsuma season. And it’s completely fine if you need to replace this delectable citrus fruit with a different kind that’s more readily available.

Horizontal image of a decorated dessert garnished with citrus segments and green leaves surrounded by whole fruit and a white towel.

You can use tangerines or another variety of mandarin oranges instead. Or try using a few navel or Valencia oranges, or even grapefruit. With its subtly bitter bite, the grapefruit will offer a lovely contrast to the sweet cream cheese frosting.

If you do decide to go for oranges or grapefruit, just cut the larger segments in half to make them bite-sized.

But whatever you choose, please be sure to leave a comment below to let us know how this recipe turned out! How did you decide to decorate it? All us to indulge in all of your delicious decisions.

Looking for more elegant cake recipes infused with fruity goodness? We’ve got the goods:

Photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on December 06, 2011. Last updated: January 22, 2020 at 13:52 pm. With additional writing and editing by Nikki Cervone.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.

12 thoughts on “Satsuma Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting”

  1. seriously, this cake just screams afternoon tea, or breakfast with coffee. and quite honestly, i know you’re talking about winter with the addition of the satsumas, but it reminds me of spring and warm sunshine.

    Reply
  2. I’d never had satsumas until this sale — sometimes my office keeps clementines in the kitchen, and I’ve been eating those like crazy, so when I saw the Tweet about the Whole Foods sale I definitely knew I wanted to try the satsumas. So good! There are two on my desk right now, as I type. Your cake is gorgeous! 🙂

    Reply
  3. Our friends went out-of-town this week and gave us their CSA, FULL of Satsumas. This recipe is definitely being added to the want-to-make-right-now-with-my-unexpected-citrus list

    Reply
  4. oh! satsumas remind me of when i used to live in santa barbara, ca – eternal sunshine and warm weather! its nice to see someone sporting delicious attractive alternatives to the norm, beautiful! another citrus favorite of mine is orange infused olive oil bundt cake. happy new year!

    Reply

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