As the name promises, this fragrant cake is made with a whole orange – peel, pith, and all. The cake is suffused with vivid orange flavor and topped with a tangy orange glaze. Make it for your next dinner party or as part of a Valentine’s celebration at home.
For weeks, I had this big idea to make a spelt and orange cake for a Valentine’s themed post. I figured I was really onto something – nutty spelt, bright citrus, maybe some olive oil. This cake sounded great. Then I realized that I made a near exact version of the cake last year. For Valentine’s.
Undaunted by my own lack of creativity and motivated by my apparent love for a February citrus cake, I’ve stretched myself toward a new (to me!) kind of cake made with regular flour, lots of fresh orange, and butter instead of olive oil.
Literally: Whole Orange Cake
But it’s not just any cake. It’s a whole orange cake! Just saying ‘whole orange cake’ perfectly conjures all the cake’s juicy sweetness. Originally published in Sunset magazine, the whole orange cake recipe is something of an internet legend. The classic version is made as a bundt, but I was looking for a simpler approach and some room to decorate, so I went with an 8-inch round pan, and used the lovely and talented Samantha Seneviratne’s snacking cake recipe from the Times as my guide.
Besides the whole orange thing, this is a pretty traditional cake, made by creaming the butter and sugar, adding the eggs, and folding in the flour. The orange is incorporated into the cake after being pulsed into a juicy pulp in the food processor. It smells wonderful as it cooks and bakes up with a tender, springy crumb that’s suffused with the fragrance and flavor of fresh oranges.
Use Your Favorite Citrus
Orange cake is generally made with navel oranges, though there’s room for experimentation with a couple caveats. The first is to steer clear of red citrus, like blood orange or ruby red grapefruit, since that is likely make for an unappetizing greenish-brown cake. Second, make sure the white pith of the citrus you’re using isn’t too thick or bitter (like with yellow grapefruit). And finally, because you’re eating the whole fruit, source organic citrus if you’re able.
As the name promises, this fragrant cake is made with a whole orange – peel, pith, and all. The cake is suffused with vivid orange flavor and topped with a tangy orange glaze. Make it for your next dinner party or as part of a Valentine's celebration at home.
Recipe adapted slightly from Samantha Seneviratne’s recipe in the Times, and inspired by the classic Sunset magazine recipe.
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
whole milk yogurt ,room temperature
- 1 medium navel orange, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch slices with any seeds removed
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt (reduce to 1/4 teaspoon if using another kind of salt)
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon orange zest plus 2 - 4 teaspoons juice
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- Thyme sprigs and leafy or sliced citrus for garnish
Working ahead, set out the butter to come to room temperature or use the pint glass trick. Ust before cooking, set out the eggs and yogurt to come to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch round pan, line the bottom with parchment, and butter that too.
Using a food processor, pulse to reduce the orange slices to a juicy pulp. Measure 3/4 cup plus two tablespoons of pulp. Set aside while you prep the other ingredients.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and soda, and salt. Mix with a fork.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with handheld beaters and a large bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy, 2 minutes. Add the sugar and beat 3 minutes more. Stop and scrape down the sides as needed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until fully incorporated. Add the yogurt, mixing just until combined. With mixer on low, add half the flour, followed by all the pulp, and the remaining flour. Mix just until combined.
Pour batter into prepared cake pan. Tap the pan a couple times on the counter to remove bubbles. Bake 35 - 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached.
Cool cake 10 minutes, then flip out of pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
Once cake is cool, make the glaze, combine the zest and powdered sugar in a small mixing bowl. Add 2 teaspoons juice and whisk to combine. Add more juice, one teaspoon at a time, until you have the desired consistency. Glaze should be thick and just a little drippy.
Spoon onto the cake. Add any garnishes and serve! (Any sliced citrus will be a little soggy, so add it just before serving and remove before storing the cake.)
gorgeous, and wow, especially since I love citrus in baking, orange will do, rinds too, thank you!
Janet Quick says
As a child in the 50’s my Mom made an outstanding Orange Spice Cake with a whole orange and I have searched for such a recipe. She used an old fashioned metal meat grinder for the orange. It was also heavy on spices. I will try the recipe as written and then try adding spices. Thank you so much for this recipe. I am very excited to try it.
Joe Far says
What about the yogurt? I’m assuming with the wet ingredients?
Hi Joe, Yes – sorry about that! I’ve updated the recipe. Thanks for catching that!
This cake was so good! Definitely a keeper. Thank you for sharing your recipe. 🙂