You read that right. This is a cake that uses an entire orange. Two of them, actually–zest, pith, flesh, and all, blitzed into a chunky puree and folded right into the batter. It’s the orangiest orange cake I’ve ever had, and I’m pretty smitten.
I was introduced to the whole-orange cake idea when a friend texted me a photo of a recipe page in a magazine and challenged me to try it. The resulting cake was a hit: suffused with orange flavor and shot through with flecks of zest. But it was also a pain in the ass to make. It required beating egg whites and yolks separately, thus dirtying three bowls and a food processor by the time I’d finished. After we licked the cake plate clean, I stared at the sink full of dishes and decided to look for a better solution.
This version, which I found on Food52, checks all the boxes. It’s a snap to make, requiring one bowl plus a food processor or blender. It’s got an intensely orangey flavor, fragrant and slightly bitter, with lots of those chewy zest-flecks that I love. The texture is fluffy and moist, but still dense enough to qualify as a classic bundt cake. (I’ve taken to swapping out a bit of the butter for olive oil, both for flavor and to keep the cake from drying out after it’s cut.) It’s simple, attractive, just the kind of thing you want as an after-dinner treat when company’s over. I’ve even served it as a birthday cake, and it was greatly appreciated.
The original recipe calls for an orange juice glaze to top the cake. I use lemon juice instead, so that the crackly surface has some sharpness to contrast with the bittersweet cake underneath. And while I love the plain orange-ness of this cake, you could certainly use this as a canvas for all sorts of flavors. Maybe next time I’ll blitz some fresh rosemary or anise seeds in with the oranges, or swap out the vanilla extract for almond. And I haven’t yet tried this with other citrus–I suspect the recipe will require some tweaking–but will report back if I do.
Whole Orange Bundt Cake (makes one bundt cake)
Note: I like using navel oranges or other seedless oranges for this. Oranges vary in sweetness, so taste your puree before measuring the sugar—you can adjust up or down by as much as 1/4 cup if needed.
1 lb organic oranges (about 2 navel oranges)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups (250 g) granulated sugar (see note)
3 large eggs
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups (310 g) all-purpose flour
2 tsp (8 g) baking powder
1/4 tsp (1.5 g) baking soda
1/2 tsp (3 g) salt
For the glaze:
1 1/2 cups (175 g) powdered (confectioner’s) sugar, plus more as needed
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1-2 tsp water, or as needed
Preheat the oven to 325º F, and place a rack in the middle position. Grease and flour a 10- or 12-cup bundt pan.
Trim the ends off the oranges and cut them into chunks, removing any seeds in the process. Transfer to a food processor or blender and blitz until mostly smooth, with flecks of orange zest throughout. Measure out 1 1/2 cups of orange puree for the cake batter.
In a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), beat together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, followed by orange puree, olive oil, and vanilla extract. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and mix to combine.
Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pan. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and transfer the bundt pan to a cooling rack. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes, or until the sides of the pan are warm but not hot to the touch. Turn the cake out onto the rack and let it cool completely.
To make the glaze, place powdered sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk to break up lumps. Add lemon juice and whisk to combine. The consistency should be thick but pourable; add a teaspoon or two of water to thin the glaze out, or a bit more powdered sugar to thicken it up.
Place the rack with the cooled cake on it over a baking sheet or a piece of wax paper to catch extra glaze. Drizzle the glaze over the cake, letting it run down the sides. Let the glaze set for at least 30 minutes before cutting into the cake.
Make ahead/leftovers: The cake will keep at room temperature, loosely covered, for up to 2 days. You can also refrigerate slices in an airtight container for up to a week, or wrap them in plastic wrap and store in a zip-top bag in the freezer for up to 2 months.