This easy orange cake recipe somehow works both as a dessert and also as a snacking cake, perfect for breakfast, or a midday pick me up.  It can be dressed up with confectioners’ sugar, or even iced if you like, or simply brushed with an orange glaze for extra sweet-citrusy flavor.  This is one of the best simple cakes I’ve made in a long time (no need for a mixer!) and the gang who got to test out the cakes all pronounced it a winner and a keeper.  (And happily took all the leftovers home).

Orange Cake

Syrup for Orange Cake

This is really a shortcut syrup, with no heating and cooling, just a blend of sugar and orange juice.  The heat of the just-baked cake will dissolve the sugar in the syrup, and that will create a sweet tart glaze that adds texture and flavor to an already delicious cake.

Homemade Orange Cake

If you want this cake to be at its very best, you must use fresh orange juice and zest.  Purchased orange juice will not have the same fresh flavor, and since you need to zest the orange for your cake anyway, why wouldn’t you also squeeze the juice?   Other than zesting and squeezing the orange, this cake is just a matter of combining wet and dry ingredients, just like any other simple cake recipe.

Orange Cake Ingredients

  • All-purpose or cake flour – this cake is very flexible – the all-purpose will give it a slightly less refined crumb than cake flour, but both work perfectly!
  • Unsalted butter – make sure to have your butter at room temperature so it creams with the sugar and becomes smooth. Some orange cakes use, oil, but I just love the taste of butter in cakes!
  • Baking powder and baking soda – these ingredients leaven the cake and give it a light texture. Always make sure your baking powder and soda are fresh for them to work at their best.
  • Sugar – plain old granulated sugar for sweetness (plus some more in the glaze)
  • Eggs – for structure and texture
  • Pure vanilla extract – please use pure, not imitation, which really doesn’t have the same flavor.
  • Fresh orange juice and finely grated orange zest – this is where the orange action comes in! A double whammy from the juice and the zest. Strain the juice to avoid getting any little pits in your cake. Some of the juice will be combined with sugar for the glaze.
Orange Cake

Best Baking Pan for Orange Cake

What I love about this recipe is that you have choices about what pan to bake it in.   You can make it in a 9-inch cake pan, and then you can serve it more like a dessert, in wedges, perhaps with whipped cream.  Or, if you like, skip the glaze and make a frosting for the cake.  The chocolate sour cream frosting from the carrot cupcakes would be great.  Or try the plain cream cheese frosting from the banana cake.

If you want to make a layer cake, double the recipe, divide the batter between 2 9-inch pans, and bake according to directions.  You can frost between the layers, and on the sides and top as you would for any layer cake.

Orange Cake: Beautiful in color, sweet and citrusy in taste, this easy orange cake can be made for so many different occasions!

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Orange Cake

Or bake the cake in a loaf pan, and then it feels more like a tea cake or a sweet quick bread.  Again, the glaze is optional, but for this loaf version it makes it feel extra special.  The baking time for the loaf pan version is about 15 minutes longer than for the thinner round single layer cake version. 

How to Glaze Orange Cake

As soon as you remove the cakes from the pan and flip them upright on the wire racks, give the orange syrup a very good stir and brush half of it over the top and sides of the cake.  Allow it to soak in for several minutes, then brush the rest of the glaze over the top and sides of the cake.  Allow to cool completely on the rack.  

Orange Cake

What to Serve with Orange Cake

You can whip up a batch of perfect whipped cream, and then maybe pair the cake with either some coffee or tea, or maybe make a cocktail to go with?  

Orange Cake

Other Cake Recipes:

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Orange Cake

Beautiful in color, sweet and citrusy in taste, this easy orange cake can be made for so many different occasions!
Yield: 8 People
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Diet: Vegetarian

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose or cake flour (not self-rising) , plus more for flouring the pan
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter , at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • cup freshly orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

For the Orange Syrup (Optional):

  • 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • ¼ cup sugar

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter 1 9-inch round cake pan or 1 loaf pan. Line the bottom of whichever pan you chose with parchment paper, and then butter and flour the interior, including the paper at the bottom, too.
  • In a medium sized bowl mix together the 1 1/4 cups flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
  • In another medium sized bowl cream together the butter and 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer for about 3 minutes until the mixture is smooth. Blend in the eggs one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated. Blend in the vanilla, 1/3 cup orange juice and zest.
  • Blend the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture in three batches, beating on low speed just until the flour is incorporated. The batter may look a little grainy, which is ok.
  • Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Bake for about 25 minutes for a 9-inch cake, and 40 to 45 minutes for a loaf cake, until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool in the pan on wire racks for 15 minutes then turn the cake out of the pans, peel off the paper, and turn it upright to finish cooling on the racks.
  • While the cake is baking, make the optional Orange Syrup. In a small bowl stir together the 3 tablespoons orange juice and ¼ cup sugar. The sugar may not become fully dissolved in the syrup, which is ok.
  • As soon as you remove the cakes from the pan and flip them upright on the wire racks, give the orange syrup a very good stir and brush half of it over the top of the cake. Allow it to soak in for several minutes, then brush the rest of the glaze over the top and sides of the cake. Allow to cool completely. Slice and serve.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 286kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 71mg | Sodium: 232mg | Potassium: 100mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 24g | Vitamin A: 450IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 1mg

The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

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