These charming individual cakes are baked in ramekins, then unmolded to reveal orange slices on the top of each dessert. The cakes are good on their own, especially served warm from the oven, but they can also be topped with a spoonful of crème anglaise for a creamy contrast, if you like.
Orange Butter Cakes
3/4 cup (6 oz./185 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
6 Tbs. (3 oz./90 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus 8 Tbs. (4 oz./125 g) butter,
at room temperature
1 cup (5 oz./155 g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (4 oz./125 g) granulated sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) heavy cream, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
For the crème anglaise (optional):
2 egg yolks
2 Tbs. cornstarch
5 Tbs. (2 1/2 oz./75 g) sugar
1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) whole milk, heated
1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) heavy cream, heated
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly butter six 1-cup (8 fl. oz./ 250-ml) ramekins or custard cups.
Finely grate the zest of 1 of the oranges; reserve the fruit for another use. Cut the second orange into very thin slices.
Sprinkle 2 Tbs. of the brown sugar in the bottom of each prepared ramekin. Pour 1 tablespoon of the melted butter into each one, evenly covering the sugar. Place 1 orange slice in each ramekin. Place the ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt over a sheet of parchment paper; set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat together the 8 Tbs. butter, the granulated sugar and orange zest on medium-high speed until creamy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture. Stir in the cream and vanilla until thoroughly incorporated. Spoon the batter over the oranges in the ramekins.
Bake until the tops are golden and a tester inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let the ramekins cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
While the cakes are cooling, make the crème anglaise, if desired. In a heavy saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch and sugar until thick and pale yellow, about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the hot milk and cream. Add the vanilla bean and place over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer while stirring continuously with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, about 4 minutes.
Remove the vanilla bean halves from the cream mixture and, using the tip of a paring knife, scrape the seeds from each half into the sauce, then stir to blend. Discard the bean halves.
Run a knife around the inside of the ramekins to loosen the cakes. Working with 1 cake at a time, invert a small dessert plate over the ramekin, then invert the ramekin and plate in a single quick motion. Lightly tap the bottom of the ramekin with the knife handle to loosen the cake, then lift off the ramekin. If the orange slices stick to the ramekins, use a knife tip to loosen them and replace them on the cakes. Serve the cakes warm or at room temperature with the crème anglaise poured over the top, if desired. Makes 6 cakes.