This is a wonderful flourless Orange Cake that’s literally bursting with orange flavour in a way that you can only achieve using whole oranges – rind and all! Boiling the oranges removes the bitterness from the pith. Made with almond meal instead of flour, it’s a terrific easy cake to take to gatherings because it’s gluten free so everyone can enjoy it!
Whole Orange Cake
If you’ve spent a lifetime peeling oranges, it might sound strange that this cake is made using a whole orange.
But here’s the thing – as with lemons and limes, most of the orange flavour is in the rind. You will get way better orange flavour by mixing 1 tablespoon of finely grated orange zest into, say, Vanilla Frosting, rather than 1/4 cup of orange juice. Not to mention that zest won’t make frostings and cake batters watery.
So – we like rind for flavour. But we don’t like the pith underneath – the white part – because it’s bitter.
Solution: boil the oranges. This removes the bitterness as well as softening the oranges to make them “jammy” which makes the cake damp and sticky inside.
What goes in Orange Cake
Just 5 ingredients:
- whole fresh oranges
- almond meal (aka ground almonds) – see note below
- baking powder (make sure it’s gluten free if you’re making this as a gluten free cake)
Just a note on a couple of the ingredients:
Almond meal / ground almonds
This is literally raw almonds that are blitzed into a fine powder. It’s easily found nowadays, sold in the dried fruit & nut section and health food section of grocery stores.
You can also make your own by blitzing 250g/ 9oz raw, unpeeled, unsalted almonds in a powerful blender (I use Vitamix) until it becomes a fine powder.
Almond flour is different but can also be used. This is made with blanched, peeled almonds, blitzed until it becomes powder form. It is lighter in colour with a finer texture so it will give it slightly fluffier consistency and also it will have a slightly less pronounced almond flavour. Almond flour is not as common in Australia. I’ve purchased it from those health food places where you serve yourself from tubs, like Scoop Wholefoods. I love those places – you can buy exactly what you need!
The fresh oranges cannot be substituted with orange juice – the batter in this recipe relies on the thickness of the pureed oranges. Also, using whole oranges delivers massive orange flavour that OJ can never replicate!!
You will need 2 medium oranges about 8cm / 3″ in diameter (think – baseball size) totalling around 600g/1.2 lb. You don’t need to be exact here – if they weigh more, your cake will be a little bit more moist. If they weigh less, that’s totally fine – almond meal cakes are super moist already, you won’t feel deprived.
But obviously if you have tiny ones, use multiple!
How to make Orange Cake
The method used for this orange cake recipe is quite unique with the bonus being that it’s easy and low effort. As mentioned above, oranges are boiled to soften and remove the bitterness from the pith (white part of rind). After this, they are blitzed – rind and all – with the remaining ingredients to make the batter.
You can’t use a food processor or blender for cake recipes made with flour because they’re simply too powerful so they will overwork the gluten in the batter, resulting in horridly hard, rubbery cakes!
First – boil and chop
- Boil oranges in water for 10 minutes;
- Drain, then repeat twice more. (ie 3 x 10 minutes) The purpose of this step is to remove the bitterness from the white part of the rind – if you skip this (and there are some recipes that do) then the cake will be bitter. Shortcut – boil 40 minutes without draining, but keep an eye on water level. Flavour is marginally “cleaner” if you change water but shortcut is perfectly acceptable;
- Slice oranges and remove seeds; then
- Roughly chop – no need to be meticulous here, it’s just to help it blitz faster.
Then – blitz and bake!
- Place in a food processor. Blender also works, but I find it tedious to scrape all the batter out. A NutriBullet works brilliantly for the blitzing but is too small for the whole batch of batter . So just do the oranges first, pour into bowl, then blitz remaining ingredients, then mix together in the bowl;
- Blitz for 3 x 10 seconds on high, scraping down the sides well, until you know longer see the large lumps and it’s like jam. It may take longer depending on the strength of your food processor. Basically, the less orange rind bits, the better – but some rind bits are ok, great jammy texture!
- Add the remaining ingredients – almond meal, baking powder, sugar and eggs, then blitz until well combined. If at this stage you realise there’s still too many rind chunks, you can blitz for longer;
- Pour into a lined cake pan – 1 x 23cm/9″ (cake will be 4 cm / 1.7″ tall) or 2 x 20cm / 8″ (cake will be 3 cm / 2.2″ tall);
- Bake for 60 minutes the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean; and
- Cool in the pan – it’s too fragile to remove while warm. The cake will shrink, as you can see in the photo above.
Unlike some cakes, I think an unadorned Orange Cake is lovely because it has a gorgeous golden orange colour. Also, this cake is so moist and full of flavour, you do not need nor want a frosting. I’ve seen some recipes soak similar cakes in orange syrup – too sweet for me!
However, if you want to give it some pretty finishing touches to impress your work colleagues or friends, here are a few suggestions:
- Dusting of icing sugar / powdered sugar – simple and pretty!
- Fresh oranges – cut thin slices of oranges with rind on, then cut a slit to the middle. Then twist and place on the cake, as pictured – it will hold itself in place;
- Orange rind – use a knife or zester to cut thin strips of orange rind. Orange part only, not the white part. Twist them around a wooden spoon handle or similar, leave for 10 minutes or so then it will hold it’s shape in loose curls, as pictured. For tight ringlets, leave overnight!
- Fresh flowers – just a few little sprigs from a tree out of the front of my house. Not edible, just for decorations! Not orange blossoms unfortunately….
- Candied orange peel or dried orange slices – scatter! With or without icing sugar;
- Toasted almonds – flakes or slivers. To make them stick, you could brush the surface with warmed marmalade loosened with a touch of water;
- Pomegranate seeds – for a wow factor pop of red colour!
- Drippy lemon or orange glaze – use the one in this Lemon Yogurt Cake recipe.
How to serve it
I 100% promise you, this is moist and flavourful enough to eat plain. But if you really want something to dollop on the side, yogurt is excellent – the fresh tartness goes extremely well with the nuttiness of the almonds, and I think it’s a better option than cream. Plain or Greek yogurt is best, or a very mildly sweet flavoured one.
For a richer alternative, creme fraiche would be lovely.
It’s also very, very good served ever so slightly warmed with a scoop of ice cream on top. Perhaps not conventional – but it works, and that’s what matters! – Nagi x
PS Also – for gluten free purposes and just because it’s darn tasty – Flourless Chocolate Cake. New video for this one is coming soon!
Watch how to make it
Whole Orange Cake – flourless
Terrific easy cake to take to gatherings that everyone can eat because it’s gluten free. The nutty almond flavour is wonderful, and keeps it ultra moist.
Be sure to use gluten free baking powder if making this for GF purposes!
Makes 1 x 23cm 9″ cake 4 cm / 1.6″ high, or 2 x 20cm/8″ cakes 3cm / 1.2″ high.
- 2 medium oranges, fresh whole with rind on , about 300g / 10 oz each (8cm/3″, Note 1)
- 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 6 large eggs , at room temp (Note 2)
- 1 1/4 cups white sugar
- 2 3/4 cups almond meal / ground almonds (Note 3)
Boil 10 ninutes: Place oranges in a pot and cover with cold water Bring to the boil over medium high heat. Boil for 10 minutes and drain.
Repeath x 2: Put oranges back in the pot, cover with cold water and boil again for 10 minutes. Drain, then repeat once more (ie boil oranges 3 x 10 minutes). (Shortcut: boil 40 minutes without draining, keep an eye on water level. (Note 4)
Chop: Rinse oranges, then cool slightly so you can handle them. Slice into 1cm / 1/4″ slices then dice, removing any seeds. Cool completely.
Preheat oven & line cake pans: Preheat oven to 160°C/320°F (140°C fan). Grease and line a 23cm/9″ with baking/parchment paper. (Note 5)
Blitz oranges: Place chopped oranges in a food processor (Note 6). Blitz on high for 4 x 10 seconds, scraping down the sides in between, until it’s pureed into a marmalade consistency with only a few visible bits of rind remain. It does not need to be completely smooth.
Blitz remain ingredients: Add almond meal, eggs, baking powder and sugar. Blitz for 5 – 10 seconds on high until combined!
Bake 60 minutes: Pour into prepared cake pans. Bake 60 minutes until the surface is golden and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Cool: Cool fully in cake pan. Unless using loose base pan, cover surface with baking paper to turn out (it’s sticky so will stick to your hand and rip off surface).
Serve: Decorate as desired – I used slices of fresh oranges and sprigs of flowers. Dusting of icing sugar / powdered sugar is also lovely. Cut then serve! See note for suggestions.
2. Large eggs – industry standard, labelled as such at grocery stores. 55 – 60g / 2 ox each.
3. Almond meal / ground almonds (same thing) – finely blitzed raw whole almonds in powder form, used in place of flour to add beautifully nutty flavour into cakes, makes them ultra moist and also gluten free. Find it in the dried fruit and nut section or health food section of grocery stores. Make your own – 250g/9 oz whole raw unsalted almonds, blitzed until powder.
Almond flour is slightly different but can be used, cake texture will be slightly lighter(made with blanched peeled almonds).
4. Changing water makes the taste a bit cleaner because you’re discarding the bitter flavour in the water. But it’s only marginal – I’ve often done a 40 minute straight boil.
5. Food processor best for ease of use. Can also use blender (just more annoying to scrape out all batter) or NutriBullet (too small for full batter, so blitz oranges first, transfer to bowl, blitz everything else then mix).
I’ve also made this by hand when camping – finely chopped oranges by knife, then used fork to mash as best I could. Mortar and pestle would also work. To cook, I used a large pot, with a cake pan elevated over simmering water using a few rocks, lid on, about 1 hour. Worked 100% perfectly – and even more moist from steam!
6. Cake pans – also great in 2 x 20cm/8″ pans, 50 minutes in oven. I like using 1 x 23cm / 9″ pan because it’s slightly taller.
7. Serving: Delicious plain because it’s so moist and flavourful, but a dollop of Greek or plain yogurt, or creme fraiche is also wonderful. Or slightly warmed with vanilla ice cream!
Decorations – see in post for suggestions.
8. Storage – keeps 5 days in an airtight container in the pantry, though if it’s hot where you are, then recommended to keep in the fridge. Stays 100% perfectly moist! Can also freeze 3 months.
Make ahead: oranges can be chopped the day before and refrigerated. Bring to room temp then use per recipe.
9. Nutrition per serving assuming 12 servings.
Life of Dozer
My money pit.
(I’m talking about the pool. What did you think I was referring to??
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