Aperol for Dessert

I’m a Campari drinker myself, but after the classic Aperol Spritz came under fire by The New York Times, I thought this cake paid a nice tribute to our immortal summer refresher. Should you be of the NYT camp, skip the Aperol frosting – the orange peel infused cake is delectable on its own.

Orange & Aperol Cake

Adapted from Recipes.com


•             1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

•             Peel from 2 large oranges

•             1 cup unsalted butter, softened

•             3 large eggs

•             2 1/2 cups cake flour

•             1 tablespoon baking soda

•             1 teaspoon kosher salt

•             1/2 cup orange juice

•             1/4 cup whole milk or half and half

•             1/3 cup Aperol Apéritif


•             2 pounds powdered sugar

•             2 cups unsalted butter, softened

•             4 tablespoons orange juice

•             4 tablespoons Aperol Apéritif

•             Yellow, and red food coloring

•             Orange peel, for garnish

•             Mint sprigs, for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. grease three (8-inch) round cake pans OR two (9-inch) round cake pans with baking spray. Dust with cake flour, tap around the edges to coat, and toss excess by tapping each pan upside down over the trash.
  2. To prepare the cake, pulse the sugar and orange peel in a food processor until peel is finely chopped and resembles the texture of wet sand.
  3. Beat together butter and orange/sugar mixture with hand mixer in an extra-large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
  4. Whisk together remaining dry ingredients (cake flour, baking soda, and salt) in a separate bowl. Stir together orange juice and milk in a large measuring cup or bowl. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with milk mixture. Beat on low speed just until combined, scraping down sides as needed.
  5. Pour batter evenly among prepared cake pans, and bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted into cake comes out clean, test with a toothpick after 30 minutes. Cool cake in pans on a wire rack and move cakes carefully to a wire rack to cool completely. Brush each cake lightly with Aperol.
  6. To prepare the frosting, beat together powdered sugar and butter in a large bowl using a hand mixer, until light and fluffy. Add orange juice, Aperol, and 10 drops of each food coloring. Beat until smooth and continue adding drops of each food coloring until desired color is attained.
  7. To assemble the cake, move sturdiest cake to a cake stand or flat platter. Spread one cup of frosting on top of the base cake layer, and spread to the edges of the cake. Top with second cake layer, and repeat process, to stack each layer you have baked and brushed. Top with final cake layer with frosting, and spread frosting on top and sides of cake until smooth and fully frosted. Garnish with orange slices and mint as desired.