Missoula Orange and Hibiscus Cake

You’re already thinking this looks like an Alien Xenomorph’s birthday cake. And you’re so right.

I stayed with some wonderful nerds in Mizzoula. Their guest room was a Star Wars fan’s paradise, their boardgame collection made me drool, and they had both an amazing Alien’s themed mural and a small jar of hibiscus flowers preserved in syrup.

If you’ve never seen this victorian delight, hibiscus flowers in syrup 100% look like the “after” scene from an Alien Xenomorph egg hatching!

They generously let me crack open their imported jar of exotic edible flowers and even held up their Xenomorph mural in the background while I photographed the cake. (Because nerds are the world’s best accomplices!)

Home made cakes are way easier to make than you think! And if you want to make yours wild, it’s so beautifully easy to swirl a couple delicious flavors. You can order your own hibiscus flowers preserved in syrup from amazon or, if you live in a larger city, find some a bit cheaper at your local fancy food store. It’s a unique flavor – and a truly impressive cake decoration!

Cake Batter(s)

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 3/4 cup flour, divided
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking power
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cardamom powder
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3 tbsp orange Curaçao
  • 1 tsp orange extract
  • 4 tbsp syrup from wild hibiscus flowers in syrup, divided
  • 3 drops blue food coloring (optional)
  • 1 drop red food coloring (optional)

Cake Directions

  • Preheat your oven to 350F.
  • Cream together the sugar, eggs, and  vanilla.
  • Mix the flour, baking powder, cardamom, and  salt in another bowl. Add it to the creamed sugar and eggs and mix. Slowly pour in the milk, stirring constantly, until you achieve a smooth batter. Keep beating until there are no lumps.
  • Remove 1 cup of batter. Mix in 2 tbsp syrup from wild hibiscus flowers in syrup. It’s a little wet now, so toss in 1 tbsp flour and mix your little batter horde until it’s smooth. If you want it to make a dramatically colored swirl in the batter, add in 3 drops of blue and 1 drop of red food coloring to give it a more dramatic purple color. (This last step is totally optional. It’s up to you how dramatic you feel!)
  • See the rest of your  batter? Let’s spice it up! Add your remaining 3 tbsp flour and 3 tbsp orange Curaçao plus 1 tsp orange extract to the main bowl of batter and mix until smooth.
  • Spray a silicone baking pan (I like a fancy bundt!) with nonstick spray. Pour in your orange batter, then spoon your purple batter in a line down the middle. Use a chopstick or butter knife to gently zig-zag the hibiscus batter into the orange batter.
  • Gently drizzle your remaining 2 tbsp of hibiscus syrup over the top of the cake. Use your chopstick or butterknife to make two rough circles directly into the batter. This creates multiple visual and flavor layers!
  • Let the cake settle for 10 minutes while the oven preheats.
  • If you’re making 2 8-inch rounds:
    Bake at 350F for 35-40 min or until a toothpick through the middle comes out clean.
  • If you’re making a bundt cake:
    Bake at 350F for 30 min, then turn down to 325F for another 30-40 min, for a total of 65-70 min. Don’t overbake! Pull it out as soon as a toothpick or cake tester pushed through the thickest part comes out clean!

Glaze Ingredients

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp orange Curaçao
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp ginger (optional)

Glaze and Finishing Directions

  • Beat together the  orange Curaçao, butter, salt, and spices if using.
  • When they become a smooth paste, gradually add the powdered sugar and continue beating until smooth. If the icing is too thick for your liking, add liqueur 1 tsp at a time until it’s your preferred density. if it’s too thin then add 1 tbsp powdered sugar until it thickens up.
  • Paint the cooked and cooled cake with your glaze then top with your Alien-esque hibiscus flowers.