So much of our kitchen experience involves throwing parts of food into the trashcan, right? I hate that part. Because I hate it, I have an entire bag full of onion tops and skins in my freezer for a future vegetable or chicken stock that will happen as soon as I need that freezer space for something more important.
I’ve also started to compost with great abandon. Notice that I said with great ‘abandon’ not with great success. Learning… I’m learning.
Because I hate to waste, I absolutely LOVE a recipe that uses the whole of something. You know… a recipe that uses both beets and their greens, carrots and their tops, ORANGES AND THEIR PEEL!
You can see the orange peel bits in the crumb of this cake. The juice and flesh of the orange will moisten and flavor the cake. The peel adds a really lovely textural element and a surprising lightly bitter bite. It’s so satisfying – making for a long-life, under-a-cake-dome, visitor’s coffee cake.
Oh what’s this casual pile of cake on the counter? Mine all mine – with plenty to share, probably.
Here’s what we’ll need for this WHOLE ORANGE CAKE!
- Whole oranges. Since we’re using the orange, pith + peel and all, it’s important to use thin-skinned oranges. Navel oranges can be thin-skinned (give them a squeeze). And try Cara Cara oranges, too!
- Butter and sour cream for the cake batter.
- 4 large eggs for the cake batter.
- AND! Brown sugar, flour, and lots of spices for the coffee cake style crumble
First we’ll slice all of the oranges into large chunks.
See if there are any seeds sneaking around in the oranges. Get those outta there.
All of the oranges go into a food processor fitted with a blade attachment.
We’ll pulse to start, then process all of the orange bits to a thick and chunky paste. It won’t be completely smooth and that’s ok. The mixture will moisten the batter and give it texture, too!
This is a trust-the-process moment.
We’ll measure 1 1/2 cups of the orange mixture into a measuring cup.
Depending on the size of the oranges, you may only need 2 oranges instead of 3. See how it goes!
The cake batter comes together first by creaming together butter and sugar.
The butter is softened to room temperature and the sugar is granulated.
Beat on low speed, with the paddle attachment, until the mixture looks pale and fluffy. It actually will look fluffy! Just give it some time. I’d say a good five minutes.
Eggs. One at a time. Incorporated for one full minute before another egg is added.
This may feel like a step you can skip, but don’t! Incorporating the eggs thoughtfully helps them do the good work of stabilizing and the cake rise to great heights.
After the eggs, vanilla extract!
Let’s get these dry ingredients going:
Flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt – lightly whisked together in a bowl so they can get to know each other before they formally meet the cake batter.
Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter, sugar, and egg mixture.
Give it a mix on low speed just until the flour is lightly incorporated.
Add all of the orange matter, along with the sour cream to the thickening cake batter.
Again, give it a low speed mix to incorporate it juuuust so.
We’ll finish by adding the remainder of the dry ingredients, beating on low speed to incorporate.
Are you seeing a theme here?
I like to stop the mixer and scape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. There’s always a pocket of dry ingredients hiding in there. Finish with a fast burst on the mixer to fully incorporate and finish the batter.
The batter will be thick. We’re doing dang great!
I love a crumble in a cake: flour and brown sugar and spices. That layer of flavor is just a nice surprise.
We’ll add butter to our spiced crumble and work it together with our fingers.
Some big chunks of butter and the mixture will the sandy.
Half of the batter makes its way into a greased and floured pan. Spread evenly.
Top with more than half of the crumble mixture and use a butterknife to swirl cake batter over the crumble. Mixed but not too mixed, ya know?
Top with the remaining batter.
And say yes to more crumble on top (which will end up being the bottom of the cake). Swirl the crumble into the batter for the last time.
Bake the cake for a good 45 to 55 minutes. To test the cake, insert a toothpick. If it comes out with a few moist crumbs, the cake is likely done. If the toothpick comes out with wet batter, give it some more time in the oven.
One of life’s great mysteries: when to invert the bundt cake from the pan to a wire rack.
I’ve had the most success with allowing the cake to cook to juuuust warm. Certainly not hot and not completely cooled. Run a knife along the end of the pan in the space between the cake and the pan. Loosen the cake. Say a small prayer. Invert.
I like this cake served with lightly whipped cream. You can absolutely add a light glaze to the cake using powdered sugar + orange juice + vanilla extract.
This is a lovely visitors cake to have on a cake stand for weekend guests.
Slices also freeze well, individually wrapped and placed in a freezer-safe bag.
It’s morning cake, afternoon-with-tea cake, and midnight snack cake. Won’t you try it!?
These photos shot with my friend: Jon Melendez.
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 3 medium navel or cara cara oranges (you need 1 1/2 cups of ground oranges so maybe 2 oranges will do if they're on the large side. Thin skins are key.)
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- lightly whipped whipped cream, for serving
- Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Grease a bundt pan with butter, shortening, or nonstick baking spray. Grease every nook and cranny. Dust generously with flour and knock the excess flour out of the pan. Set aside.
- Let's first make the crumble. In a medium bowl stir together flour, brown sugar, spice, and salt. Add the butter and use your fingers to your the butter into the dry mixture, creating a crumble. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- Now let's grind up the oranges. Chop whole oranges into 2-inch chunks - peel and all! You'll want to use oranges that don't have a very thick peel and pith. Choose oranges that have a thinner peel and are relatively seedless.
- Place the oranges in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Place the lid on the food processor, and pulse a few rounds to start.
- Process the oranges on low speed until the peel, flesh and juice begin to meld, creating a well ground, thick orange mixture. The mixture won't be completely smooth. It's ok if there are small pea size chunks of peel in the mixture. Spoon mixture into a glass measuring cup and measure 1 1/2 cups ground orange to use in the cake. Set aside the measured orange mixture.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, place softened butter and sugar. Beat on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in eggs, one at a time, on low speed, beating for 1 minute between each addition.
- Beat in the vanilla extract until well combined.
- On low speed, add half of the dry ingredients. Stir on slow speed just to incorporate.
- Add the orange mixture and sour cream and mix to just combine.
- Add the final half of the dry ingredients. Stir on slow speed just to incorporate. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl to find any hidden flour pockets. They're in there!
- Give the cake batter one last burst of energy, mixing on medium-high speed for about 30 seconds, just to get it all well incorporated.
- Spoon half of the thick cake batter into the prepared pan and smooth the even. Add just over half of the crumble mixture and lightly swirl with a butterknife.
- Add the remaining cake batter to the pan and smooth. Add the remaining crumble and again use the butterknife to swirl the cake batter over the crumble mixture - incorporating it.
- Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out with moist crumbs, not wet batter.
- Place on a wire rack to cool for 20 to 30 minutes. Before inverting the cake onto a wire rack, gently run a knife down the sides to help loosed any bits that may have stuck.
- The key is to invert the cake while it's just lightly warm, but not hot.
- Slice and serve! You're welcome to add a glaze. I like this cake served with lightly whipped cream and coffee.