Whole Orange Bundt Cake with Five-Spice Streusel

April 4, 2013


Author Notes: This recipe was inspired by a whole orange cake recipe from Sunset magazine. It uses whole oranges that have been processed to an almost purée to give the cake a little marmalade-like flavor. As soon as I saw the original recipe I knew I wanted to play with it by adding some spice. I tried several versions using the Sunset recipe as the base, adding spice to the batter, but was never quite happy with the flavor or the texture. I switched tactics and used a Cook's Illustrated sour cream coffee cake with streusel filling as the base. I substituted puréed orange for the sour cream, and increased the butter to account for the lost fat. The first version was quite good, and just needed a tiny bit of tinkering with the streusel. To gild the lily, I topped the cake with an orange-vanilla powdered sugar glaze.hardlikearmour

Food52 Review: I'll cut to the chase: This is the best cake I've made or eaten in a long time—this coming from someone who eats a fair share of cake and is careful about using superlatives. Everything about this cake is smart: using whole oranges to amplify the citrus flavor, pairing orange with five-spice powder (that streusel is insanely good), and adding just enough sugar to balance the bitter without making it overly sweet. I also learned a cool new trick (brushing the pan with a mix of melted butter and flour) and appreciated hardlikearmour’s clear instructions (the orange peel should be “pinky nail-sized” ). I initially considered this a “grown-up” cake given the complexity of flavors, but even the toddlers at my dinner party devoured it. That’s the power of good cake. EmilyC

Makes: one bundt cake

Ingredients

Streusel

  • 3 ounces (85 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3 ounces (85 g) dark brown sugar
  • 3 ounces (85 g) sugar (evaporated cane or granulated)
  • 4 teaspoons (1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon) Chinese 5-spice powder
  • Pinch salt

Cake and Icing

  • 8.75 ounces (250 g) sugar (evaporated cane or granulated)
  • 11.5 ounces (325 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 medium organic navel or Cara Cara oranges (about 1 1/4 pounds or 570 grams)
  • 1 1/4 cups (~280 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon vanilla extract (divided)
  • 4 ounces (115 g) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (optional)
  • Orange juice, milk, or half-and-half (if needed to thin icing)
In This Recipe

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F with a rack in the lowest position. Spray a Bundt pan with cooking spray that contains flour or brush with a mixture made from 1 tablespoon melted butter and 1 tablespoon flour. (A great trick I learned from Cook's Illustrated for Bundt cakes.)
  2. Combine streusel ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Process to combine. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. (If your brown sugar is free of clumps, you could also just whisk the mixture together.)
  3. Place sugar for cake in processor bowl, then process 60 to 90 seconds to create a finer sugar, which helps to create a finer texture in the final cake. Transfer the sugar to the bowl of a stand mixure.
  4. Wash the oranges, then cut off and discard the stem and blossom ends. Cut the oranges into about 1-inch chunks (removing any seeds), and place them in the food processor. Process in 3 to 4 second pulses until the mixture is fairly smooth, but not completely puréed. There should be visible pieces of peel left, but they should be fairly small (pinky nail-sized). Measure out 1 1/2 cups (~365 g) in a 2- to 4-cup glass measure. Add the eggs and 1 tablespoon vanilla to the glass measure, and whisk with a fork to combine (being careful if using the 2-cup measure, as there won't be much room for splashing).
  5. Transfer the remaining orange mixture to a fine-mesh strainer and press out as much juice as possible. Set the juice aside for making the icing. Discard the pulp.
  6. Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to the mixing bowl with the sugar. Mix on low for 30 seconds to combine. Add the butter and half of the orange mixture. Mix on low until the flour is mostly moistened, then increase the speed to medium and mix for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add half of the remaining orange mixture, and mix on medium speed for 20 seconds. Add the remaining orange mixture, and mix on medium speed for 20 seconds. Scrape the bowl, then mix on medium-high for 60 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
  7. Transfer about a quarter of the batter to the prepared Bundt pan, and smooth into an even layer using a rubber spatula. Sprinkle evenly with 3/4 cup of the streusel. Transfer half of the remaining batter to the pan, and smooth into an even layer. Sprinkle with remaining streusel. Transfer and smooth the remaining batter.
  8. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a bamboo skewer inserted in the center comes out clean or with only streusel crumbs attached.
  9. While the cake is baking make the icing: Whisk together the powdered sugar, strained orange juice, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Taste and add lemon juice if desired. Because the amount of orange juice will vary, adjust the icing until it is a fairly thick drizzling consistency. Add orange juice, milk, half-and-half, or powdered sugar by the tablespoon as needed. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and set aside.
  10. Transfer pan to a wire rack and allow to cool for 25 to 30 minutes. Invert the cake onto the pan and allow the cake to cool an additional 30 minutes or more before drizzling the icing on (the cake should be barely warm to cool before icing). I like to drizzle the icing while the cake is on the wire rack set over the sink, so clean up is a breeze. Allow the cake to fully cool and the icing to set before serving. Keeps tightly wrapped for several days.

More Great Recipes:
Cake|Bundt Cake|Orange Juice|Fruit|Orange|Egg|Lemon Juice|Milk/Cream|Serves a Crowd|Vegetarian

Reviews (39) Questions (1)

39 Reviews

cocoabrioche August 6, 2018
Have made this for multiple groups and occasions, and it always gets raves. I like it because it can be made a couple of days ahead; it stays moist, and the flavors blend so it's even better a day or two later. One of my two favorite cakes in a long, long career!
 
AnnMarie M. March 8, 2018
I made this, stuck at home in the snow yesterday and brought it in to cheers at work this morning. Devoured it. I typically like making recipes exactly as is the first time but since there was a snow storm outside, I had to make substitutions. I used blood oranges and didn't have five spice powder, so I googled substitutes. I ground up 6 whole star anise, 1 1/2 sticks cinnamon, 15 whole cloves and then mixed it with a 1/2 tsp of ground ginger to make my own spice powder. It was great! And now what to do with the rest of it? Hmmmm
 
Imbatnan January 22, 2018
I made this and its ancestor, the Sunset orange cake, last night bc I was intrigued with the different mixing methods. Your/RLB's method definitely created less gluten! I was surprised by the loose, almost crumbly texture, which is unusual for a bundt cake? It was nicely moist and had great flavor, but the texture was more what I expect from a layer cake? I think I'll try that next!
 
Kimmerie December 17, 2017
Next to my Red Wine Chocolate Cake, this is the best cake I’ve ever made. Turns out perfect every time. Everyone asks for it. Because of the whole oranges, I feel healthier just for eating it 😂
 
CK June 8, 2017
I made this the other day for a school cake walk. It did not make it to the school. We couldn't help ourselves. This cake smells like Christmas and tastes like heaven. I am making it again next week when my parents come for a visit. It's not super sweet but if you enjoy bitter orange flavor, you will adore this cake. It was pretty easy to make, as well. I don't typically toy with recipes in any way but I ran out of butter (sacrilege) and only used 1 1/8 c butter, noticed no difference. I made the cake two days ago, it was wonderful yesterday, and today, the glaze is starting to disappear into the cake. I was planning to freeze some to see how it would do but we don't have enough left. MAKE THIS CAKE.
 
DelicateFlowah April 15, 2017
I made this in February 2017 to rave reviews. Made it again last weekend for an impromptu dinner gathering, getting more rave reviews. I'm making it today because Mother-in-law requested it for her birthday. She originally wanted carrot cake but informed me that she wanted it for her birthday next year. So today I've made a carrot cake AND this gem of a recipe for her party. She's going to be 85. And ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ if she makes it to next year.
 
Div February 17, 2017
I made this sans streusel last night and my husband ate half the cake in one sitting. He claims this is the best dessert I've ever made for him; it's a great pick for anyone who likes some complexity and not too much sweetness in their desserts. I didn't feel like breaking out the food processor so I used my immersion blender to chop up the orange pieces and it worked beautifully.
 
Starchgirl February 9, 2017
2/8/17 Delicious exactly as written! Moist, flavorful and not too sweet. I did add the optional lemon juice in the glaze to cut the sweetness. This was a big hit at our dinner party, and everyone wanted to take a piece for breakfast!
 
Bee February 7, 2017
I'll never use Five Spice combination other than this cake. Would a good alternative be cardamom? I realize it won't taste the same but that's too dear a spice to buy for one cake.
 
Author Comment
hardlikearmour February 7, 2017
I'd probably mix cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon vs. straight cardamom (which might be overpowering on its own).
 
SophieL February 7, 2017
Penzey's Cake Spice has almost the same spice combinations as Chinese Five Spice and is a tad bit less expensive ($3.99 vs $4.50) and Bee might be more inclined to use "cake spice" since it's fantastic in baked goods that call for cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and/or cloves.
 
Bee February 7, 2017
Absolutely BRILLIANT suggestion! I have every one of those spices on hand and the combination sounds smashing. THANK YOU, hardlikearmour, for that really helpful suggestion; I'll be thinking of YOU when I bake this cake!
 
Bee February 7, 2017
I SophieL: I think you also responded on the Bundt cake page, too. I like your suggestion of spices, also, as I have every one of those on hand. Sadly, the closest Penzey's store is 203 miles away from me and I'm not inclined to pay more for shipping an item than the item costs. But, because you broke down for me the ingredients of their Cake Spice, I can certainly replicate it at home. Blessings to you for your help to me! :D
 
Selina December 30, 2016
So, I had to post a thank you for this, since I needed a simple, yet festive dessert for Christmas Eve dinner with my Dad and his culinarily stunted girlfriend. Since I was already doing the entire dinner, I really had no patience for fiddly recipes this year. I managed to whip this up in about 20 min. prep time, (never having done struesel before,) and it was perfect. Thanks for saving me the headache of a fancy Christmas dessert!
 
Bobby I. April 17, 2016
Easy cake to make. Lots of compliments from those at lunch. Just less sugar next time as it was a bit too sweet.
 
Linda M. April 13, 2016
Hi! Your cake sounds wonderful and I can't wait to try it, but I just have a question first. Not sure if I should assume this, but does the strained orange puree get combined with the puree mixed with the eggs and vanilla before adding it to the cake batter? Thanks!
 
Author Comment
hardlikearmour April 13, 2016
Nope. The juice goes in the icing, and the pulp is discarded. It may work to add it to the batter, but I've not tried.
 
Regine March 17, 2016
It is called the two stage method and I agree with Hardlikearmor. It does make cake more tender and makes texture more fine grained.
 
Beth March 16, 2016
I was surprised to read that you mix the softened butter directly with the flour and sugar, without creaming the butter and sugar together first. Any ideas about why this works?
 
Author Comment
hardlikearmour March 16, 2016
It's the way Rose Levy Beranbaum mixes many of her cakes. The ultimate purpose is to get a more tender cake. By combining the fat, flour, and just a small amount of liquid, the fat molecules can coat some of the gluten-producing proteins in the flour which prevents them from interacting with water so there is less gluten formation.
 
Regine March 16, 2016
Cake tasted really good. And so did the streusel. However, I found cake could have been more moist. It was a bit crumbly. Perhaps someone else can make it and see what s/he thinks. Maybe replacing some of the butter with oil might make it moister. Icing was good too but not necessary as it is a very sweet cake. However, the flavor of the orange puree and five spice is delicious. Not sure if someone else will think like me but it will be interesting to see others make it. Hardlikearmor, maybe it is just me though. Come to think of it, cake has the drier texture of a coffee cake not i.e., a pound cake, and it may be a good thing.
 
Author Comment
hardlikearmour March 16, 2016
Hmmmm. I've made the cake half a dozen times and haven't found it to be dry. Maybe it's personal preference or subjectivity? Maybe yours came out drier than mine due to some variable with ovens, pans, or ingredients?
 
Regine March 15, 2016
In oven now for tomorrow evening. Smells so good. Batter was a bit thicker than other cakes. Had to spread it with a spatula when I poured it in pan. I guess it is because of the pureed oranges. I tasted the batter. So good. Like a mixture of cake batter and orange marmalade.
 
Author Comment
hardlikearmour March 15, 2016
Sounds perfect so far. The batter is thick.
 
Regine March 15, 2016
Is orange supposed to look like the first and second image on this link below? <br />http://www.forloveofthetable.com/2014/01/citrus-avocado-salad-with-green-olives.html
 
Author Comment
hardlikearmour March 15, 2016
That's exactly right, once the ends are sliced off, the rest of the peel is incorporated into the cake.
 
Regine March 15, 2016
Making sure I understand. The orange is not peeled, right? I know you wrote to cut off and discard the stem and blossom ends, but I confess I can't visualize what this mean I will do some "googling," and I am sure I will figure this out. LOL
 
mrslarkin February 17, 2016
Gorgeous photo, Sara!
 
Author Comment
hardlikearmour February 17, 2016
:-) Thanks!!!
 
mrslarkin March 11, 2016
Congrats on the CP, Sara!!
 
drbabs July 31, 2014
Sara, I love this! I'm saving it for when the weather cools off and I can start baking again.