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Orange-Poppy Seed Cake

1 cup plus 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange peel
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1/4 cup poppy seeds (optional)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups buttermilk or plain low-fat yogurt

1/2 cup orange juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
16 ounces cream cheese
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups confectioner's sugar

Heat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease and flour two 9x2-inch round
cake pans. Tap out excess flour.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter,
sugar, orange peel, baking powder, baking soda and salt until pale
and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well
after each. Beat in poppy seeds until blended. Reduce speed to
low and beat in half the flour, all the buttermilk, then the
remaining flour just until blended. Divide batter between prepared
pans and spread evenly. Bake, switching position of pans halfway
through baking, 45 to 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted
in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack 10 minutes
before inverting cakes on rack. Poke holes with a toothpick, about
halfway through layers at 1 to 2 inch intervals.

Stir orange juice and sugar until sugar dissolves. Spoon a tablespoon
at a time over warm layers. Let cool completely.

Beat butter, cream cheese, and vanilla in a large bowl on medium
speed until blended. Reduce speed to low and beat in confectioners'
sugar until blended.

Place 1 cake layer, smooth side up, on a serving plate. Spread
top with 1 cup frosting. Top with second cake layer, smooth side
up. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides. Up to 2 hours
before serving, decorate cake with sugar roses and leaves. Leave
at room temperature.


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