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Whole Orange Butter Cake Recipe

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If you love oranges, and cake, then you need to try this whole orange butter cake recipe.  This cake is bursting with sunshine flavor, thanks to two whole oranges blended right into the batter!  The vibrant orange infuses the soft and tender crumb of the butter cake, and adds another layer of sweetness in the cake glaze.

Beautiful whole orange butter cake made in a bundt pan on a wood tray.

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.

My Version Of The Orange 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 uses less butter and sugar.
  • I added buttermilk.  Using buttermilk keeps the cake moist, and the yummy flavor of butter was not compromised by reducing the amount.  
  • The oranges are processed fresh, and not boiled.  Though the icon herself boils the oranges, I found through testing that the orange flavor is greatly reduced when the oranges are boiled.  Additionally, I find the fresh orange imparts a vibrant sweetness.
Single slice of orange butter cake on a white plate.

This Is A Standard Size Cake Recipe

This whole orange cake was one of my first cake recipes on the blog.  Since then, I have transitioned to small batch baking.  Though, there are a few cake gems if you’re looking for a larger cake:  my olive oil orange cake, peanut butter and jelly cake, and berry mousse cake.

But, if you are looking for a smaller versions of a citrus sweets, check out my honey orange snack cake, chocolate orange tarts, and winter citrus tarts

Orange bundt cake with a slice on a wood tray with orange wedges.

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  
Close up of a whole orange butter cake made in a heritage bundt pan.

How To Make The whole orange 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!  
Super moist citrus cake slice on a white plate.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

If you use the whole orange, is the cake bitter?

No, the cake is not bitter. In fact, it is incredibly vibrant and has a delicate balance of flavor, texture, and sweetness.

Can I add berries to the cake?

You can! Fresh cranberries would be a great addition to make a Christmas cake. Gently fold the berries in at the end of mixing the batter. Use caution with fruits that may contribute too much moisture – like strawberries.

Can I bake the cake in a different pan?

You can! I use a heritage bundt pan, though any bundt will work. Alternatively, you can bake the cake into a 2-layer cake and use 2, 8-inch cake pans and start checking the cakes at 25 minutes. Layer on your favorite frosting, or use whipped coconut cream for a lighter version.

How do I store the cake?

The cake can be stored covered at room temperature for 3 to 5 days. A cake carrier is a great way to store larger cakes!

Can I freeze the baked whole orange cake?

Yes! Wrap the cake in plastic wrap, place in a freezer bag, and freeze for up to 3 months. If the cake has been sliced, wrap the ends as well to keep the cake from drying out. Thaw at room temperature.

Super moist citrus cake slice on a white plate.
Beautiful whole orange butter cake made in a bundt pan on a wood tray.
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5 from 5 reviews

Whole Orange Butter Cake

Yield: 10 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

Ingredients
 

Orange Butter Cake

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large navel oranges (ends trimmed, cut into chunks and seeds removed)
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup buttermilk

Orange Glaze

  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • remaining processed orange

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 325F degrees and adjust oven rack to middle position. Butter and flour a 10-cup bundt pan. Be sure to get all the nooks and crannies of the pan so the cake doesn't stick.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
    2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ¼ teaspoon baking soda, ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 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.  
    2 large navel oranges
  • 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 to 5 minutes.  Add in one egg at a time and beat until incorporated after each.   Add the vanilla extract with the last egg.
    12 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar, 3 large eggs, room temperature, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 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 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.  
    ¾ cup buttermilk
  • Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan. Smooth out the top with a spatula.
  • Bake the cake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until the cake has risen and is firm to the touch, and a skewer (or knife) inserted into the center comes out mostly clean.
  • Let the cake cool in the pan set on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Then, carefully invert the cake onto the wire rack and cool completely.

Orange Glaze

  • In a small saucepan, heat the water and remaining processed orange until just simmering.  Cool slightly. 
    ¾ cup water, remaining processed orange
  • Transfer the orange mixture to a small mixing bowl. Sprinkle the powdered sugar over the top and mix until smooth. Add more powdered sugar (or water) to reach your desired glaze consistency.
    1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • Generously spoon the glaze over the cooled 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 to 5 days.
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RECIPE NOTES

  • Storing The Cake – Store the cake covered at room temperature for 3 to 5 days.  A cake carrier is a great way to store the cake.
  • Freezing The Cake – The cake can be frozen for up to 3 months.  If the cake has been sliced, wrap the ends tightly in plastic wrap, then wrap the whole cake.  Place in a freezer bag.  Thaw at room temperature.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Erin Cernich
Nutrition information is calculated by a third-party and should only be considered an estimate and not a guarantee.
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about the author ...

I'm Erin and I'm all about desserts - and a little bit of butter!

I've tested, written, and photographed hundreds of recipes on my website. Here you'll find the tastiest small batch gluten free and traditional desserts - all homemade, all simple, and all for you! Click here to learn more about me!

5 from 5 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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comments & reviews

4 thoughts on “Whole Orange Butter Cake Recipe”

    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!

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