Sunset's Whole Orange Cake

January 17, 2018

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: In this spunky citrus cake, you chuck fresh chunks of orange—skin, pith, and juicy flesh—right in the food processor and blitz till only tiny flecks of skin remain. After mixing this pulpy orange slush into the batter, the cake that comes out is incredibly moist (and gets more so by the day), with a flavor that’s marmalade-like but brighter, for people who prefer a bit of bitterness and complexity to straight sweet. And for those who don’t, the glaze is a good distraction. Recipe adapted from Sunset Magazine and Stephanie Spencer.Genius Recipes

Serves: 12
Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 1 hrs

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks (225g) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
  • 1 1/4 cups (250g) sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 oranges (about 1 pound/450g), ends trimmed, then cut into chunks and seeds removed
  • 2 1/2 cups (315g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (see note)
  • 1 1/2 cups (185g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed orange juice, from half an orange
In This Recipe

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 325°F (165°C) with a rack positioned in the center. Butter a 10-cup (2.37L) Bundt pan very well. For extra insurance, dust the pan with flour or dry breadcrumbs. In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs one by one.

  2. Pulse orange chunks in a food processor until mostly smooth but not completely puréed. Spoon out 1 1/2 cups (355ml) of the pulpy orange mixture and add to the batter, then beat until blended. Add the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder and beat just until smooth. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
  3. Bake until the cake is risen and firm to the touch, and a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out with just crumbs clinging, about 55 minutes. Cool the pan on a rack set over a rimmed baking sheet for 10 minutes, then invert the cake onto the rack and let cool completely.

  4. Whisk together powdered sugar and orange juice in a small bowl, then taste and adjust the consistency to taste (if you'd like it thicker, add more powdered sugar; thinner, add more orange juice). Once the cake is cool, spoon the glaze over the top. Let the glaze set, then slice cake and serve. Store any leftovers airtight at room temperature.
  5. Note: This recipe was originally published and tested in Sunset magazine and on Food52 with 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, but after consulting with an editor at Sunset, we upped the baking powder to 2 teaspoons for a more consistently lighter cake.

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Reviews (48) Questions (1)

48 Reviews

Ameliorator May 6, 2018
For the record, the <a href="https://food52.com/recipes/21578-whole-orange-bundt-cake-with-five-spice-streusel">original recipe</a> calls for a TABLESPOON of baking powder, and half a teaspoon of soda.
 
Juliebell May 6, 2018
Thank you for pointing that out. I made this cake and loved a lot about it but decided not to repeat due to the dense texture and I am not good with making adjustments to baked recipes. I’m going to make the original recipe and I think I’ll 😍
 
Kristen M. May 6, 2018
Hi Ameliorator, after discussing with an editor at Sunset magazine and retesting myself, I've updated the recipe to give a lighter option using 2 teaspoons baking powder. (I don't want to completely revise it for all the people who've made and liked it with 1/2 teaspoon!)
 
Ameliorator May 6, 2018
This recipe has roughly half the usual amount of leavening for a bundt cake, and the result definitely showed it--didn't rise much during the bake, and proceeded to collapse on itself as it cooled. No wonder people are saying it's dense. Was the recipe developed for high-altitude and disseminated in its current form by mistake? I like the idea of including the whole orange, and I like the flavor of the cake, but I feel strongly that it needs *at least* a full teaspoon of baking powder and a half teaspoon of soda.
 
Martha J. April 9, 2018
I made the cake this week and everyone thought it was delicious. Very dense texture as people have mentioned but I liked it that way (but I also thought I might have underbaked it slightly.) Very disappointed in the glaze though, it did not look at all as pictured and had a disappointing taste and texture. Has anyone tried it with frosting instead? Maybe cream cheese frosting would be good?<br />
 
tranquility April 3, 2018
Made this today and while the taste was great (and I like using the whole fruit) the cake turned out way too dense for my liking (and I like dense cakes).
 
Liz D. February 25, 2018
Made this yesterday, with Meyer Lemons + 2T sugar in lieu of oranges, in a tube pan. VERY good! Funny thing was, in filing this away, I discovered that I'd torn the recipe out of the Sunset magazine, too. Obviously, it appealed to me!
 
Angela R. February 22, 2018
Would kumquats work. I have several pounds of freshly picked kumquats.
 
Regine February 6, 2018
My most favorite orange cake, which to me is the best I have tasted so far, is <br />an orange soaked bundt cake I found in fine cooking.com. Here is link. It is a fine grained, not dense, ultra moist cake. <br />http://www.finecooking.com/recipe/orange-soaked-bundt-cake
 
Joseph R. February 6, 2018
Good recipe (we get gift shipments of fruit so this comes in handy). I like the bitterness; the cake reminded me of the orange marmalade I made. Only problem was sticking in the bundt pan, even though it was heavily buttered, and I use this pan often yet never have this issue with other cakes. Next time I'll do loaf or flat pans, and use parchment paper.
 
Imbatnan February 6, 2018
The streusel version of this cake (also on this site) has a great tip: brush bundt pan w 1 TB melted butter mixed w 1 TB flour. I have a very finicky bundt pan with lots of peaks and swirls — this tip proved the ONLY successful tip-out I’ve ever had with it!
 
Joseph R. February 6, 2018
Good recipe (we get gift shipments of fruit so this comes in handy). I like the bitterness; the cake reminded me of the orange marmalade I made. Only problem was sticking in the bundt pan, even though it was heavily buttered, and I use this pan often yet never have this issue with other cakes. Next time I'll do loaf or flat pans, and use parchment paper.
 
Pam W. February 4, 2018
Really good, fairly easy. Greased and SUGARED the bundt pan- came out perfect!
 
lori January 30, 2018
Made this twice in the past 3 days. First time made it per recipe in a bundt pan; it came out very well with mix of navel and Cara Cara oranges (I did cut out some of the thicker pith on the navels)--dense and very moist, sweet enough that we skipped the glaze. Second time I made 4 small loaf pans and used Myer lemons rather than oranges, and increased the sugar slightly, baked 40-45 min. I think I must have done something wrong as the texture was not the same--drier outside, not quite done in middle. The flavor was quite nice with the lemons, though--brighter and nicely lemony. Will try again with Meyer lemons in a bundt pan, and the original orange version is a keeper recipe for us.
 
sandy L. January 29, 2018
This is a fantastic, easy and beautiful cake! Everyone loved it - none left to test if it gets more moist with age! I used blood oranges so the glaze was pink. Perfect to brighten a gray wintry day.
 
marina January 22, 2018
Really liked that cake and not bitter at all!
 
Imbatnan January 22, 2018
Outstanding. Made 2 loaves instead of a bundt, with the intention of giving one away...NOT HAPPENING (YUM!). Better texture than the 5-spice riff on this site, although that one is good, too, and has great tips. This will probably be my Christmas gift to coworkers this year...maybe with a Cointreau glaze.<br />
 
Maggie January 21, 2018
Fantastic! This recipe resisted my best efforts to screw it up - I halved it, used two small eggs, two tiny blood oranges that were destined for the compost heap, added a touch of vanilla, and baked it in a 9 inch round, and it still turned out. Truly genius.
 
Joan W. January 21, 2018
To eliminate the question of bitterness from the pith, I used the same technique I use in making fresh orange cranberry relish. This works with oranges with a thick rind like navel oranges. First peel the orange rind using a sharp potato peeler (OXO makes the best). Save the thin strips; in fact I chopped them by hand before I put them in the food processor. Then peel off the thick pith and toss it. Proceed with the recipe as directed. <br /><br />I'm also interested if anyone has made the cake with lemons?
 
Joan W. January 21, 2018
To eliminate the question of bitterness from the pith, I used the same technique I use in making fresh orange cranberry relish. This works with oranges with a thick rind like navel oranges. First peel the orange rind using a sharp potato peeler (OXO makes the best). Save the thin strips; in fact I chopped them by hand before I put them in the food processor. Then peel off the thick pith and toss it. Proceed with the recipe as directed. <br /><br />I'm also interested if anyone has made the cake with lemons?
 
stingraystirs January 19, 2018
I made this cake today using Valencia oranges (per Amy's comment below). It's excellent!
 
Rachel January 19, 2018
For those asking about using clementines instead, I don't know if clementines would work in this recipe, but I highly recommend Nigella Lawson's clementine cake. For another great, classic whole orange cake recipe, Claudia Roden's orange and almond cake can't be beat.
 
Amy January 18, 2018
Wonderful recipe. I worried the recipe called for the bundt pan to be buttered but not floured but that was not a mistake. I used Valencia oranges which have a thinner skin and little pith so no resulting bitterness. Also, I have a 75 year old gas oven that likes to play mind games with baked goods. I baked it for 47 minutes instead of 55 and the crumbs when tested were moist but not clinging to the toothpick. The cake is dense. I took it out of the oven and it contracted into the most moist and favorable cake. We served it with a vanilla ice cream dollop and remembered orange dreamsicles from when were were kids. I really like this recipe and it's a keeper here.