Serves a Crowd

Sunset's Whole Orange Cake

January 17, 2018
43 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
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

Watch This Recipe
Sunset's Whole Orange Cake
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 12
  • 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
  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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Jane Lightning
    Jane Lightning
  • Smaug
  • garlic&lemon
  • Ditiya Ferdous
    Ditiya Ferdous
  • Justine Simonson
    Justine Simonson
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

116 Reviews

Hilary April 27, 2021
Really lovely! Made as instructed, except added a touch of vanilla to the cake batter and increased the salt to 1/2 tsp as per the suggestion in the comments. Lovely!
Jane L. March 15, 2021
Just Delicious!
I doubled the glaze recipe since my family are a bunch of icing freaks. Rave reviews! Thanks!
Amy January 17, 2021
Lovely cake! I think the cake flavor would be improved with more salt, glaze flavor improved with salt and vanilla extract.
Smaug January 3, 2021
This was pretty good. I made half the recipe in a smallish (8x4x2 1/2) loaf pan, which worked fine and left a fairly flat top for the glaze. That allowed me to make a wetter glaze (65g. sugar and 5 tsp. sour tangerine juice), which would have mostly run off a Bundt cake- it did take a while to dry, but I didn't want so much sugar on top. The texture is as advertised, very nice. The bitter tone from the peel was interesting- I don't know that I particularly liked it, but interesting.
Smaug January 17, 2021
Tried this again with most (I'd say about 80%) of the pith removed; also added 1/4 tsp. orange oil. I'd say that the flavor was overall better balanced, but it lacked some of the je ne sais quoi factor of the original. Also, of course, you lose the just toss it in the blender appeal of the original- the oranges need to be zested, then peeled before cutting them up. In theory, it should be a little less moist than the original, and maybe it was, but quite moist enough for any normal purpose. I made 1/2 recipe in a 7" springform, a very good fit, and it allowed me to glaze the cake while still warm (which of course you couldn't do with a bundt cake). I used the same glaze above (I have sour tangerines because there hasn't been enough cold here for them to ripen fully- an alternative would be sour orange juice, or maybe Meyer lemon)- the cake absorbed a good deal of it, and it dried quickly.
garlic&lemon January 2, 2021
Cara Cara Oranges are in season! They make the most amazing version of this cake. Such a treat in the winter. In a couple of months when the oranges start to get less fragrant, I add 1/2 tsp of Boyajian Orange Oil to boost that orange flavor right back up. Even in the pandemic with only 2 people in the house, I slice it and freeze them with some waxed paper between the slices to keep them from sticking together. A quick 20-30 seconds in the microwave and fresh cake for lunch desert. All ready for the next 4 hours of Zoom.
NI$A 2. December 31, 2020
I have only one word to describe this recipe: DELICIOUS 😋
MJ-YOW December 26, 2020
Excellent Results - i added about a half cup of unsweetened shredded coconut and half cup of chopped dried pineapple- amped up the tropical notes
Nancy December 7, 2020
Late to the party, but glad to see this recipe. Both because of the whole orange (sounds good!) and because of Sunset Magazine, which I've always found a treasure trove of recipes.
Ditiya F. September 17, 2020
I have made this cake several times now and it is just really really great. I would recommend using the 2 whole oranges, not omitting the peel because when it's baked into the cake, it gives it a slight bitterness that i absolutely love and also makes the texture much more interesting. I end up with a cake batter that is quite stable, fluffy and aerated, not runny at all but not dense, making sure to fold in the flour and orange without knocking out all of the air from the creamed butter and sugar. It comes out with such a delicate crumb and aromatic flavor. So nice! I usually get away with using only 3/4 cups of sugar in the batter and adding a dark chocolate drizzle on top.
beejay45 November 19, 2020
Yes! As I watched the video, I was thinking that what this cake cried out for was a dark chocolate glaze. Orange and chocolate are never wrong.
Jane L. March 15, 2021
It is, after all, your cake...have a blast with your chocolate!
Alison May 18, 2020
I should have added that I scrubbed my oranges to get off any wax or coating—they were organic to begin with, but I didn’t want any flavors from the coatings that are so common.
Alison May 18, 2020
This was absolutely delicious! I used two Cara Cara oranges and one Moro, which produced an orange flavor with depth and a perfumed aroma that was amazing. The Moro orange had a lot of pith, so I trimmed some of that one more. I made according to recipe. It seemed plenty sweet to me, but not overly so. I will be making this again.
gratifi K. April 16, 2020
Hi, I scrolled through the reviews to see if anyone has tried this cake with whole Meyer lemons? Even for Meyer lemons, the pith might be too bitter?
alicia D. May 22, 2020
Christina’s Cucina website has a recipe for Whole Lemon Cake (one for conventional orange and GF orange as well. Her GF whole orange is the most delicious GF recipe I e ever eaten.)
Brianna R. June 7, 2020
I make it with 3 lemons regularly, it’s delicious. I do usually add a bit of extra sugar.
Justine S. April 5, 2020
I loved this cake! My whole family did too. It will definitely go into heavy rotation for us. I'm wondering if it would work with other fruits too? I made a kumquat cake a few months back and I could see that working here easily - but what about something like strawberries, or lime (would it be enough sugar) - would it work out since the fruit brings so much moisture to the batter?
Jane L. March 15, 2021
Love love love kumquats, thanks for the idea.
Justine S. April 5, 2020
I loved this cake! My whole family did too. It will definitely go into heavy rotation for us. I'm wondering if it would work with other fruits too? I made a kumquat cake a few months back and I could see that working here easily - but what about something like strawberries, or lime?
Alison L. April 4, 2020
Dairy Allergies Read Here:
This is so easy and delicious! I have an allergy to dairy, so I switched out the butter for 1/3 cup coconut oil and it worked great! Highly recommend this recipe!
Mary L. March 28, 2020
I'd like to try this with gluten free flour, but as some reviews have said it's dense, I think g.f. might not work. Any ideas? Don't want stodgy cake!
Marielys D. May 3, 2020
I didn’t read the comments beforehand and I used GF flour. Fingers crossed it turns out yummy anyway!
Brianna R. June 7, 2020
I make it with cassava flour and olive oil instead of wheat and butter. It is delicious and not gummy as long as you add enough flour and bake well.
Anne Y. March 18, 2020
I made this as muffins per tip from another reader. Used half whole wheat flour, cut sugar in the batter in half, and added a little stevia. Plenty sweet for us. A keeper
Elizabeth February 23, 2020
Would there be a good way to make eggless for someone who has an allergy?
Diane February 23, 2020
made this and it was easy but the best part is how delicious it is! Fantastic. Talk about impressing company! I'll be making this often and frequently for company. Thank you for sharing the recipe. Oh and I didn't use the glaze (I don't like super sweet stuff). Most of our company had luscious whipped cream on top but it was moist and delicious all on its own.
Benjamin January 19, 2020
this cake was easy.moist and delicious- i tried it out on my food snob sisters and they fell in love- there probably had 2 tbsp left of the pulp, and i incorporated into the frosting, This cake did not need any extra orange flavoring, i will brag about this recipe for a long time coming