Make Ahead

Pioneer-Style Orange Sour Cream Cake

August 23, 2009
8 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

I'm calling this "Pioneer-Style" because I mixed it all by hand. The house we're renting isn't equipped with any sort of electric mixer. It worked out fine, but you don't have to do it that way. This recipe can be doubled to make a layer cake but I made one layer. Vacation isn't a time for architecture. —Giulia Melucci

What You'll Need
  • Orange Cake
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, very soft
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  1. Orange Cake
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8 inch baking pan.
  3. Beat the butter, sugar, and orange zest in a large bowl until creamy. Use an electric mixer if you have one.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, then the sour cream and orange juice followed by the dry ingredients mixing until just combined.
  5. Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake in the center of the oven for 30-35 minutes.
  6. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto serving plate.
  1. Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
  2. Beat the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer if you're lucky enough to have one, if you're not, have courage, the job can still be done.
  3. Add the sugar, the orange juice, and vanilla, then the sour cream. Cover and refrigerate until firm enough to spread on cake. About 10 minutes.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Rebecca Cohoe
    Rebecca Cohoe
  • Kate Monson
    Kate Monson
  • Rose
  • Taylor Stanton
    Taylor Stanton
  • glammie

30 Reviews

yazzolino December 10, 2021
This recipe is simple and one of my absolute favorite cakes to make in the winter when Cara cara oranges are in season. The sour cream in the frosting is an absolute must, I was weirded out by it at first but it brings a much needed complexity to the sweetness and richness of the cake.
Rebecca C. April 3, 2020
i just made this to use up some old oranges and it was delicious. We also added some lemon zest, and made a quick glaze with icing sugar and orange juice instead of the cream cheese icing. I'll definitely make it again, plus it was easy enough to make with my 6 year old.
Kate M. November 26, 2017
Made it for Thanksgiving because one of my daughters doesn't like pie. Doubled the recipe to do a layer cake and added 1 tsp of ground cardamom, delicious!
Rose March 6, 2017
Best cake I have had for a long time!
Thank you!
Kerry G. January 23, 2017
Made it the second time in one week. This time, replaced orange flavour with chocolate .... eliminated zest and just and increased wet ingredients with another 1/4 cup sour cream and folded in approx 150g bittersweet chocolate chips at end. Worked beautifully.
Kerry G. January 21, 2017
My daughter loved this!
Taylor S. February 4, 2016
Amazing! Followed the recipe exactly but omitted the frosting. Exactly the type of snacky cake I was craving.
glammie January 31, 2016
I've made this three times in the last three weeks! My son loves it. Skipped the icing; it's moist enough without it. Used full-fat plain yogurt in lieu of the sour cream and this last time, I used a parchment lining because I've had trouble with it sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Elhart June 1, 2015
This was really good. Family enjoyed it. I'd definitely make it again.
Rachel March 13, 2015
Great recipe! Made it with half orange ring, half lemon and it was delicious! Didn't have time to make the icing so served it warm with vanilla ice cream. This will definitely become my go-to simple cake.
Amandadp January 25, 2015
Loved this! The cake and icing were just perfect together. I took it to work and it went over fabulously! Will definitely make it again.
Nikki January 25, 2015
Waste of time. This recipe had way too much soda for no more batter than it had. I could literally taste it in the finished cake! If you're going to do this recipe anyway, it would be a good idea to reduce the soda to 1/4 tea.
Also, I didn't care for the texture of the crumb.
You can actually make a better orange cake by buying a butter recipe yellow cake mix and subbing OJ for the liquid in the batter, along with some orange zest. I always get compliments and no one knows it's not all "homemade".
ghughes1506 July 9, 2020
you referring to box cake explains a lot 😅
Lynn W. April 27, 2014
This cake was fabulous! I added about 1/2 cup go poppy seeds and everyone devoured it. Thanks for such a simple and delicious cake!
caroberts77 April 27, 2014
I made this last night and it turned out lovely. I think I overcooked the cake a tad though, next time I'll start checking on it at 25 minutes. At 30, it ended up being kind of dry. I messed up the icing, it didn't turn out as fluffy as the pictures above. It was actually still quite runny after sitting in the fridge for half an hour. I put it on anyway, it tasted good. I put the whole thing back in the fridge for about an hour and the frosting really started to firm up then, so maybe I just needed to leave it in there longer before icing the cake. Either, a winner in my house. I sprinkled some toasted almonds on top and snuck another piece after everyone had left. ;-) I'm going to try it with different citrus in the future, I love a good lemon cake too.
Jean March 12, 2014
Gotta try it tonight, so easy and I love orange!
Jim L. January 27, 2013
We tried this "pioneer-style" as well... with a change: we made cupcakes. Yummy recipe! Check it out:
DocSharc July 3, 2019
Thank you! I just found this recipe and was looking to see if anybody had tried it as a cupcake. :)
Barbara L. January 4, 2013
This cake is so simple to make yet has a great taste. It doesn't even need the frosting...I just dust powdered sugar over the top.
Saccharine April 10, 2012
Great simple recipe! The cake is so moist! Used a pink grapefruit and coconut lime glaze instead. All my party guests love it! And I substituted the sour cream with natural plain yoghurt. It's great for an afternoon tea cake:)
Emily F. August 17, 2011
i forgot the baking soda!!! But it still turned out fantastic!! as a topping i used meringue and my family couldn't stop eating them!!!! :) thank you so much for the great recipe!!
This L. June 30, 2011
I made this today, thank you!!!! The frosting is truly addictive. I did substitute 1/4 cup of flour with ground almonds and added some toasted slivered almonds to the top.
I confess I used a food mixer, I held out for years without one, but I'm baking too much recently to do it all manually.
It also worked well with milk, I had no sour cream.