Neither too tart nor too sweet, this recipe for All In Whole Orange Cake gives you a bright orange flavored cake that is very dense. Perfect with an afternoon tea or coffee.
Why I made this recipe for All In Whole Orange Cake
My neighbor has an organic orange tree in her backyard that was full of ripe oranges.
"Do you juice?" she asked.
I don't usually but told her I do like oranges, so she brought over a big bag full of fresh aromatic oranges.
Now to use them up.
One of the first things that came to mind was an orange-flavored cake. Or muffins. Or something like that.
To my trusty cookbooks, and the internet for inspiration. There are a number of recipes that use orange juice, many include some orange zest. This got me to thinking, what about if I was to use the whole orange. Google search gave me a recipe for Pan d Arancio which literally translates to Orange Bread. But it did use the whole orange. And the pictured result looked more like a cake than bread, so what the heck, I'll give it a shot.
- Granulated suger - Use pure cane sugar for best results
- Unsalted butter - all my recipes are written for unsalted butter. If you use salted butter, decrease the amount called for in the recipe
- Large eggs
- A couple large oranges - One for the cake, one for the glaze. Organic preferred
- All-purpose flour
- Baking Powder, soda, and salt.
Why you should make MY recipe
One of my first assignments with recipe writing and development was working with Colavita USA rewriting their recipe archives.
Many of the recipes were poorly written, written in partial Italian, missing ingredients to the method, or method to ingredients. My job, which I chose to accept, was to be a detective and to rewrite all the recipes to a simple, easy to follow, format.
It was a lot of work, and a lot of fun trying to decipher what some of them wanted or meant, but I was very successful at fixing them and it taught me a lot about writing a recipe clearly.
The recipe for Pan d Arancio was written very much the same, vague, and since it really was a Sicilian Orange Cake, also written much like Grandma may have written it. So I translated it to make it easy for you to make.
I also did a few modifications, mostly to add some moisture to this very dense cake in the addition of buttermilk. The buttermilk gives it a nice tang while adding some, in my opinion, needed moisture.
But it all starts with...oranges.
Well, the obvious first answer is organic. Because you are using the skin and all, you don't want it to be either coated with wax or a pesticide. Clean as can be. Be sure to wash the orange anyway, even organic ones have dirt and dust on them.
The second answer is ones with a thinner skin work best. Normally when cooking or using citrus in a recipe the rule of thumb is to avoid the white pith as it can be bitter. And while this is true, in this whole orange cake, it's actually a bit of the flavor profile. But a little bitter is better than a lot of bitter.
And lastly, fresh and full of juice.
Here is a list of what I think are the best oranges to use.
Valencia Oranges -Valencia oranges are best known as the orange juice oranges, but they are also great to eat too. Valencia oranges have thin skins, a few seeds, and are very juicy.
Seville Oranges -Seville oranges are sour oranges well-suited for making marmalade and are also used in cooking, cocktails, and salad dressings.
Cara Cara Oranges - One of the prettiest oranges is the cara cara. It’s a type of navel orange – it’s sometimes labeled “pink navel” or “red navel” – and was discovered in Venezuela in 1976. It is an all-time great orange, extremely sweet but with a complex sort of berry flavor behind it. And best of all is the color: a luscious pink.
These are just some of the many oranges you can choose.
Just remember, whichever you do choose, wash it and seed it.
A food processor would be a key piece of needed equipment. I think it would be virtually impossible to get your orange to the right consistency without one. Your awesome knife skills aside, it would take a long time to chop the orange up properly. A blender could be used, but it is much more difficult to control the textures with a blender.
Because the batter is so thick, a stand mixer, I love my KitchenAid, or a heavy-duty hand mixer is useful. Of course, this cake could be made without these modern-day devices, just use your awesome muscles and a good wooden spoon.
Buttermilk offers a bit of tart tang to the cake. If you don't have buttermilk in the refrigerator then you could use some yoghurt that is thinned with a bit of water or milk. Or use the cheat of adding some lemon juice, or vinegar, to milk to "sour" it. About ½ to 1 teaspoon per cup should do the job.
Step by Step Instructions
Step 1 - After washing and pitting the orange, cut it into segments and process it in the food processor until it is finely chopped.
Step 2 - After beating the butter and sugar together, add the eggs one at a time, then add the buttermilk. Mix well. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and mix until well blended.
Step 3 - Transfer the batter to a well greased cake pan and place it into a 350ºF ( 170ºC) oven for 35 to 40 minutes.
Step 4 - Mix the glaze and choose your glazing method.
To make the glaze heat the juice from one orange over low heat and add the sugar. Simmer until the sugar is melted and the glaze has thickened slightly, then stir in the zest. You want the zest to be zesty. Here is where you don't want any pith, so zest only the skin. And remember to zest first, juice after. Then spoon or brush on the now mostly cooled cake.
The Great Glaze Cheat
Heat some orange marmalade over low heat and stir in a bit of water. Instant glaze.
After I was done I took a piece over to my neighbor. "We have something very much like this in Greece," she told me. So now I guess you could say it's either Sicilian or it could be Greek. Wonder what other culture has a similar cake?
Share if you know one!
How to store All in Whole orange cake
You can store the cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
It also freezes well, I would recommend you cut the cake into ready to eat slices, wrap tightly in freezer wrap and place in a container in the freezer. Thaw the cake prior to eating it.
This recipe was updated 3/1/2022
For more wonderful, not too sweet, slightly different, snack or dessert ideas, try one of these delights...
Fresh Apple Chunk Olive Oil Cake
Zucchini Carrot Biscotti with Walnuts
Eggplant Cornmeal Cake with Whipped Orange Frosting
Apricot Almond and Brown Butter Tart
All In Whole Orange Cake
- For the Cake
- 2 cups (8 ounces) granulated sugar 250g
- 7 tablespoons 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (if using salted butter, omit the salt in the recipe) 100g
- 3 large eggs 150g
- ⅔ cups buttermilk 55g
- 2 cups (8 ounces) all-purpose flour 250g
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch salt
- 1 large about 300g untreated (organic preferred) orange, cut into chunks, seeds removed, peel left on
- For the Glaze
- ½ cup granulated sugar 100g
- Juice and zest of one orange about 75ml
- Pinch of salt
- Prepare the Cake: Set oven to 325°F (170°C). Set the oven rack in the middle of the oven. Prepare a cake pan or springform pan by generously buttering it. Place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom and spray with cooking spray. Set-aside.
- In the work bowl of an electric mixer, place the sugar and butter. Beat well until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until each is incorporated. Add the buttermilk and mix in.
- Mix the flour with the baking powder, soda, and salt. Slowly add to the wet ingredients, mix until well blended.
- Pulse the orange pieces in a food processor or blender until you have a fine puree with just a bit of the orange peel showing. Mix into the batter until blended.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, cook for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick, when inserted into the center, comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Once cooled, turn out onto a place.
- Make the Glaze: In a small saucepan, bring the orange juice and sugar to a simmer and cook until the sugar is completely dissolved and the syrup thickens slightly. Brush or spoon over the cooled cake. Cut and serve.
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