Prep and cook time: About 6 hours to make all layers (or about 1½ hours per layer)
Notes: For the 12-inch layer, you will need to use a hand-held mixer to beat the egg whites (step 3), unless you have an extra-large standing mixer. Depending on the volume of your beaten egg whites, you may have batter left over from one or more cake layers; bake extra batter in muffin tins to make cupcakes.
Makes: Four cake layers
For the 6-inch layer
- 3 large eggs, separated
- 1⁄4 cup (1⁄8 lb.) butter, melted
- 1⁄2 teaspoon orange extract
- 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
- 1⁄8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1⁄2 cup superfine or granulated sugar
- 1⁄2 cup cake flour
For the 8-inch layer
- 6 large eggs, separated
- 1⁄2 cup (1⁄4 lb.) butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon orange extract
- 2 teaspoons grated orange peel
- 1⁄4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 cup superfine or granulated sugar
- 1 cup cake flour
For the 10-inch layer
- 9 large eggs, separated
- 3⁄4 cup (3⁄8 lb.) butter, melted
- 1½ teaspoons orange extract
- 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
- 3⁄8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1½ cups superfine or granulated sugar
- 1½ cups cake flour
For the 12-inch layer
- 12 large eggs, separated
- 1 cup (1⁄2 lb.) butter, melted
- 2 teaspoons orange extract
- 4 teaspoons grated orange peel
- 1⁄2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 cups superfine or granulated sugar
- 2 cups cake flour
1. To make each cake layer: Butter the bottom of the appropriate pan. Line the bottom with cooking parchment or waxed paper. Butter paper and dust with flour.
2. In a bowl (at least 3 qt. for 6- and 8-in. layers, 5 to 6 qt. for 10- and 12-in.), stir together egg yolks, melted butter, orange extract, and orange peel.
3. In a large bowl (at least 6 qt. for 12-in. layer; see notes at top of story), with an electric mixer at high speed, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until mixture holds very soft peaks. Gradually add sugar, beating until sugar is completely dissolved and whites hold stiff, shiny peaks. Add whites to yolk mixture and sift flour over whites; using a flexible spatula, gently fold in, deflating the batter as little as possible.
4. Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread level (pan should be about 3⁄4 full). Bake in a 350° oven until top springs back when lightly pressed in the center, 30 minutes for 6-inch layer, 35 to 40 for 8-inch, 45 to 50 for 10-inch, and 50 for 12-inch. (Smaller layers may be baked simultaneously; bake the 12-in. layer by itself.)
5. Set cake layer on wire rack to cool completely. Run a knife around edges of cake to release. Invert layer onto matching-sized corrugated cardboard round. Peel off paper.
Next: Make the Grand Marnier Whipped Cream and filling