Whole Orange Butter Cake

This post and recipe may contain affiliate links. Please see the Discolsure Policy for details.
Jump to Recipe

If you love oranges, and cake, then you need to try this Whole Orange Butter Cake.  Adding the whole orange gives the cake all of the flavor layers of an orange – sweet, tart, a bit sharp and full of orange citrus goodness.  All wrapped in a tender, lightly sweetened, and thick butter cake.

Whole Orange Butter Cake

I first stumbled across this recipe from Sunset magazine.   My first reaction was “A whole orange?  No way – that just can’t be tasty.”  But then I read the recipe a few more times, Googled whole orange cake, and found that it is not that foreign as I originally thought. 

In my research, I found that some chef’s actually boil the oranges, sometimes for hours, to break down the citrus until it is basically a marmalade custard.  Like the recipe from the delightful and iconic Mary Berry.  So, I decided to give this citrus dessert phenomenon a try.

A Lighter Butter Cake

The cake itself is not too dissimilar from a pound cake.  I adapted the Sunset recipe a bit and have to say I was delighted with how it turned out.  I’m not a huge fan of pound cake, so I tried different variations until I got a result that didn’t require as much butter, yet was still moist, tender and dense. 

What did I do? 

I swapped in some buttermilk.  Using buttermilk was certain to keep the cake moist, and the yummy flavor of butter was not compromised by reducing the amount.  

A slice of orange butter cake

Whole Oranges In A Cake

Let’s talk about these whole oranges.  Yes, you use the entire orange.  I should also say that there is not one whole orange in the cake, there are two.  Certain to give you the right punch of citrus. 

How To Prepare The Oranges For The Cake

  • Cut the ends off the oranges – to remove the stem parts
  • Chop the orange is into chunks – no need for fancy chops because the oranges are going in a food processor
  • Remove any visible seeds – don’t stress about this, because any seeds that are left will just get processed
  • Toss into your food processor – pulp, pith, rind and all – and blend util just small flecks of the rind remain  

Can You Boil The Oranges Instead?

You can, and I did try it.  Since Mary Berry did it, I thought I should try it too.  I found that boiling the oranges removed a lot of the orange essence.  The result was a decent cake, it just didn’t have a bright citrus flavor.

The fresh oranges make the cake sweeter with orange.  Which is a great result because the sweetness overpowers most of the bitter from the pith. 

What Does A Whole Orange Cake Taste Like

First of all – this cake’s primary flavor is orange.  Otherwise, the recipe would have a different title.  🙂

And to reiterate, you get all of the flavor layers of an orange:

  • citrus
  • sweet
  • tart
  • bitter

But all these flavors work harmoniously together.

Plus, the rich and sweet butter cake is a delicious backdrop of flavor.  And we are pouring a sweet orange glaze over the cake when it is done.  So, you will have plenty of sweet and citrus in this cake.  

A delicious slice of citrus orange cake

How To Make The Butter Cake

Once you have the oranges processed, the cake itself is a pretty straight forward butter cake.

  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients – and if you want to get fancy, you can sift them.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar – and there is not too much sugar to make it cloyingly sweet.   
  3. Add the eggs – one at time and make sure they are mixed in well before adding the next.
  4. Add the orange puree to the wet ingredients
  5. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and buttermilk to the orange mixture
  6. Bake – I prefer a bundt pan for baking this cake – it will hold the amount of batter in one pan.  And, when you pour on the glaze, it drizzles into all of the nooks and crannies.  Yum!  

This is a perfect cake for Sunday brunch, afternoon tea, or just an anytime snack.  To say it is a refreshing alternative to a rich chocolate cake is not only literal, but it is also nice to have a lovely citrus cake in your recipe book! 

More Cake Recipes (some are Small Batch/Mini Cakes)

An orange cake baked in a bundt pan
A sliced whole orange cake
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
5 from 1 review

Whole Orange Butter Cake

Yield: 10 Slices/Servings
If you love oranges, and cake, then you need to try this Whole Orange Butter Cake. Adding the whole orange gives the cake all of the flavor layers of an orange -sweet, tart, a bit sharp and full of orange citrus goodness.  All wrappedin a tender, lightly sweetened, and thick butter cake.
Prep30 minutes
Cook1 hour
Total1 hour 30 minutes


  • 10-Cup Bundt Pan


  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large navel oranges (ends trimmed, cut into chunks and seeds removed)
  • 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup water (for glaze)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar (for glaze)
  • remaining processed orange (for glaze)


  • Preheat oven to 325o degrees and adjust oven rack to middle position.  Butter and flour a 10-cup bundt pan.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder until incorporated.  Set aside.  
  • In a food processor fitted with the blade attachment (a smoothie blender will also work), pulse the prepared chunks of oranges until only small flecks of the rind remain – the mixture should be smooth but not fully pureed.  
  • In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, (or large mixing bowl for hand-held mixer), cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy – about 3-5 minutes.  Add in one egg at a time and beat until incorporated after each.   Add the vanilla extract with the last egg.
  • Spoon in 1 and 1/2 cups of the orange mixture to the batter and mix until incorporated.   The remaining orange mixture will be used for the glaze.
  • Turn the stand mixer on low and slowly add in 1/3 of the flour mixture to the batter.  Mix until just incorporated.  Next add 1/2 of the buttermilk, again mixing until incorporated.  Repeat adding 1/3 of the flour, then buttermilk, ending with the remaining flour.  
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared bundt pan and smooth out the top with a spatula.
  • Bake until the cake has risen and is firm to the touch, and when a skewer (or a knife) inserted into the center of the cake comes out with only a few crumbs clinging – about 55-60 minutes.  
  • Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Invert the cake onto the wire rack and cool completely.

Orange Glaze

  • In a small saucepan, heat the water and remaining orange mixture until just simmering.  Cool slightly.  In a small mixing bowl, whisk the cooled orange liquid and confectioner’s sugar until smooth.  Adjust to taste.  Once the cake has cooled, spoon generously over the top of the cake.  Keep any excess glaze to spoon over individual servings for a little more sweetness!
  • The cake can be stored covered in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-5 days.
Liked the recipe?Please leave a review and star rating for the recipe! This greatly helps me continue to provide FREE recipes!
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Erin Cernich

4 thoughts on “Whole Orange Butter Cake”

    1. I’ve yet to try that, but I think cranberries would work great without any adjustments to the recipe. I would fold them in with the last increment of flour.

    1. Erin | Butter and Bliss

      Hi Christy – I’m so glad you enjoyed the cake! It is one of my favorites on the blog – the orange is so awesome!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

recipe rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.