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Whole Orange Cake (super moist)

Super moist and bursting with fresh orange flavor, this whole orange cake will become a new favorite. Rich, tender, sweet and citrusy.

Eat it unadorned or drizzle on an orange buttercream glaze to take it over the top. 

I’ve been making this recipe from Noreen Gilletz for over 30 years. I love the intense orange flavor, but using a whole orange, as this recipe does, can make the cake slightly bitter and dense. 

baked decorated Whole Orange Cake

With some trial and error, I found a way to remove the bitterness and create an ultra moist and tender cake. It takes an extra short step, but worth it I think. 

  • The original recipe calls for blending a whole orange with the rest of the ingredients all together in a food processor.
  • I now remove most of the white layer of the orange (the pith) and cream the butter, sugar and eggs separately in the food processor before blending the orange. 

If you love orange flavors, you will love this super moist orange cake. If you’re not an orange fan, skip it. This cake screams orange. 

 

I love to serve this cake at a shower, a tea or for dessert at a dinner party. Expect rave reviews. 

Good to Know – FAQ

How can you get rid of the bitterness of the orange peel?

While the top layer of the orange zest (peel) has some bitterness from tannins, it’s the white part beneath the skin  – the pith – that is very bitter. By removing much of the pith, we can avoid most of the bitterness. Another option is to boil the peel several times which I’m too lazy to do 🙂

Do I need a food processor for this recipe?

Yes, you will need a food processor to pulverize the orange. A blender will work too. I also use the processor to cream the butter, sugar and eggs. Once transferred to a large bowl, I blend the orange (no need to clean the processor bowl in between). 

What size pans can I use for this recipe?

Dimensions of cake pans will change the timing of baking cakes so always keep your eye on the doneness in the last 10 minutes or so. For the orange cake recipe, you can use a 9″ (23cm) springform pan (what I use), two 8″ (20cm) round pans (for two layers), an 8″ (20cm) square pan, a 9″ round pan or 9×5′ (23×12.7″) inch loaf pan. 

Can I make a flour-free or gluten-free orange cake?

Yes! We have a wonderful gluten-free orange polenta cake you can try. Perfect after a Passover seder meal. 

Do I have to weigh the ingredients? 

Weighing baking ingredients on a kitchen scale is always best. If you don’t have a scale, use the spoon & sweep method – loosely fill a measuring cup with flour to the top, then sweep across the rim with a knife.

Can I make a lower calorie and lower fat version of the orange cake? 

Yes, you can substitute half the butter with unsweetened applesauce. 

Tailor To Your Taste

  • Flour – the recipe calls for all purpose flour, but feel free to substitute 1/4 of the flour with almond flour or whole wheat flour. 
  • Glaze/frosting (optional)
    • I use a thin orange buttercream icing to glaze the cake. You can also make a regular thicker icing by adjusting the ingredients – more butter and icing confectioner sugar or less  orange juice. 
    • A chocolate buttercream frosting like we use on our best banana cake would also be fantastic because chocolate and orange are a perfect match. 
    • Or try this cream cheese frosting from Sally’s Baking Addiction. Add orange zest if you like.
  • Decoration – I like to use orange peel, thinly sliced orange pieces, a dusting of confectioner sugar, chocolate shavings or even crushed toasted nuts. 

Shortcuts

  • If you can find fresh oranges with a very thin layer of white pith beneath the orange skin, by all means, use the whole orange. Otherwise, I suggest removing some or most of the white pith. 
  • Skip the orange buttercream glaze or icing. Just dust the top of the cake with icing [confectioner] sugar. 

Make Ahead

  • The whole orange cake can be stored at room temperature for 3-4 days in an airtight container to keep it fresh and moist. 
  • The cake can also be frozen for 2-3 months. 

Other delicious cake recipes you might enjoy

How to make a moist whole orange cake

oranges, sugar, flour, butter, eggs, salt, baking powder
Whole orange cake ingredients: oranges, sugar, flour, butter, eggs, salt, baking powder
peeled orange, orange rind and pith on cutting board
To reduce any bitterness, slice off thin orange zest layer. Then slice off white pith layer of orange and discard. Cut oranges into quarters.
creamed butter, eggs and sugar with pulverized orange in a bowl
Cream butter, eggs and sugar in food processor. Transfer to bowl. Then pulverize orange and peel in food processor. Add to same bowl.
orange cake batter in bowl
Gently fold in flour and baking powder just until combined to complete the batter. Don’t over mix.
orange cake batter in springform pan
Pour batter into greased pan.
baked whole orange cake in springform pan
Bake at 350F/177C for 45-50 minutes or until cake doesn’t jiggle and tester comes out clean.
icing sugar, butter, zest and orange juice in measuring bowl.
Make optional icing by whisking together with a fork – butter, icing sugar, orange juice and zest.
Whole Orange Cake on plate dusted with icing sugar and decorated with orange slice and zest
Let cake cool completely. Dust with icing sugar or frost with frosting/glaze. Decorate with orange slices and orange peel.

slice of Whole Orange Cake on plate with orange slices p

baked decorated Whole Orange Cake
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5 from 6 votes

Whole Orange Cake (super moist)

Super moist and bursting with fresh orange flavor, this whole orange cake will become a new favorite. Rich, sweet and citrusy. Eat it unadorned or drizzle on an orange buttercream glaze to take it over the top. 
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time50 mins
cooling30 mins
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, Vegetarian
Servings: 12
Author: Cheryl, Two Kooks In The Kitchen

Equipment

  • food processor (or blender), medium-large mixing bowl, 9" (23cm) springform pan, Note 1 for other pan options.

Ingredients

whole orange cake

  • 2 large seedless oranges about 184g each
  • 3/4 cups (170g) butter, cut in chunks 1 1/2 sticks
  • 1 1/4 cups (250g) granulated sugar (use an extra 1/4 cup/50g if oranges aren't too sweet)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups (256g) all purpose flour Note 2
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt skip if using salted butter

orange buttercream frosting/glaze (optional) Note 3

  • 1 cup icing sugar also called confectioners or powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 orange (use half orange for fresh orange juice and zest) other half for decoration
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  • HEAT OVEN TO 350F/177C. Spray 9 inch (23cm) springform pan with oil. Note 1 for other pan options.
  • PREPARE ORANGES: Using a sharp knife, place orange on cutting board and slice off the thin top orange layer all around the orange. Try to get as little of the white pith layer as possible (leaving on some is fine - no need to obsess!). Then slice off the white pith layer and discard. Repeat with second orange. Cut oranges into quarters. Shortcut: If your oranges only have a very thin layer of pith, you can use the whole orange.
  • CREAM BUTTER, SUGAR, EGGS: Place butter, sugar and eggs in food processor bowl. Process for 2 minutes until fluffy and creamy. Scrape down sides of bowl once or twice. Scoop mixture into medium-large bowl.
  • GRIND ORANGES: Place oranges and orange peels in food processor. No need to clean out processor first. Process until finely blended, about 1 minute. Scrape orange mixture into bowl with butter mixture.
  • FINISH BATTER: Add baking powder and flour. Gently fold into wet mixture just until incorporated. Do NOT over mix or the cake will be dense. Pour batter into prepared pan. Tap pan on counter to level the batter evenly.
  • BAKE: for 45-50 minutes or until cake no longer jiggles when shaken and when cake tester or toothpick is inserted in center and comes out clean. Two 8" round pans will take less time, about 25-35 minutes. Timing depends on size of oranges (amount of liquid in cake) and your oven (all ovens are different and not perfectly accurate on temperatures). Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before removing on pan. Cool completely on cooling rack before frosting.
  • MAKE FROSTING/GLAZE (OPTIONAL): While cake is baking, whisk icing/confectioner sugar, 1/2 of orange juice and orange zest with a fork. Add more orange juice until you get the consistency you like. Note 3 for traditional orange buttercream frosting.
  • DECORATE: Sprinkle orange cake with powdered icing sugar (through a sieve) if not using frosting. If using frosting/glaze, spread it on top of cake letting it slip down the sides if desired. Decorate cake with orange zest strips, orange slices, drained mandarin oranges, zest or crushed nuts if you like.

Notes

  1. Pan options: Dimensions of cake pans will change the timing of baking cakes so always keep your eye on the doneness in the last 10 minutes or so. For the orange cake recipe, you can use a 9" (23cm) springform pan (what I use), two 8" (20cm)round pans (for two layers), an 8" (20cm) square pan, a 9" round pan or 9x5' (23x12.7") inch loaf pan. 
  2. Flour options: You can substitute 1/4 of the flour (1/2 cup/68g) with almond flour or whole wheat flour
  3. Orange frosting/glaze: The recipe makes enough of a thinner frosting/glaze to cover the top of the cake. If you want a thicker, more traditional buttercream frosting, use 1 1/2 cups (180g) icing sugar, 1/4 cup (4 tbsp, 1/2 stick or 57g) butter and 2-3 tbsp orange juice. It might be easier to use a food processor or hand electric mixer if making the traditional frosting (instead of a fork).
  4. Other frosting options:
    • A chocolate buttercream frosting like we use on our best banana cake would also be fantastic because chocolate and orange are a perfect match. 
    • Or try this cream cheese frosting from Sally's Baking Addiction. Add orange zest if you like.
  5. Lower calorie, lower fat version: Substitute half the butter with unsweetened applesauce. So use 6 tbsp butter and 6 tbsp apple sauce. And skip the frosting (just dust with icing sugar)
  6. Make Ahead:
    • The whole orange cake can be stored at room temperature for 3-4 days in an airtight container to keep it fresh and moist. 
    • The cake can also be frozen for 2-3 months. 
Nutrition values are estimates and include the orange buttercream frosting. 

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Whole Orange Cake (super moist)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 342 Calories from Fat 135
% Daily Value*
Fat 15g23%
Saturated Fat 4g25%
Trans Fat 1g
Cholesterol 46mg15%
Sodium 238mg10%
Potassium 90mg3%
Carbohydrates 50g17%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 33g37%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 681IU14%
Vitamin C 13mg16%
Calcium 63mg6%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    So good and moist. Thanks for posting it again as I have made your recipe in the past and am craving it again. I am definitely making it again in the next week.

    1. Hi Deb. You must be referring to our orange polenta cake which has been posted for a quite a while. So glad you liked it. The whole orange cake is new this week and I hope you like it as well! Thanks so much for leaving a comment.

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