Some things never change and this tea time orange cake is an absolute delight with so many memories. Fragrant, sticky, sweet and easy to make and the perfect slice with a cup of tea. What I really love about this cake is that it can stay fresh for 3 to 4 days solid.
After the Easter weekend it felt like a breathe of spring for me, fresh air, an awakening, new beginning and this orange cake was pure joy. A new season metaphorically so making a light soft cake seemed fitting.
This cake is based off the Italian Pan d'Arancio which is an Italian dessert recipe from Sicily. Citrus fruit is very prominent in Italy since they are grown at their best and produce heaps of recipes. Perhaps 90% of my husbands reading, watching TV etc is from Italian news so that is the source of some of my recipes like this orange cake.
There are a few differences ofcourse like the no butter element in Pan d'Arancio with the addition of almond flour. I also use the juice and zest of the orange as opposed to the whole orange. Essentially a sponge cake, you know the one you learn as your first bake in cooking class at school? That and a soufflé and just how many times we had to make a soufflé to perfect it!
So the base of this cake is your regular cake ingredients, flour, eggs, baking powder, sugar, butter with the addition of orange. I've also added both lemon and orange but it turned out too citrus for my husband so I'm sticking with just orange now.
This orange cake is an absolute pleasure to make, and most certainly to eat.
Orange juice and zest adds great flavor and remember to;
- wash the orange before grating
- remove only the orange outer rind (zest) not the white underneath, it will give a bitter taste
- what I do when adding the juice is pour it through a strainer to ensure that just the juice goes into the cake and not the orange bits.
Making this cake in a stand mixer quite literally takes every aspect of stress away although you can also use a hand mixer. The ingredients are non complicated and that's what makes this recipe a pleasure to make, you most likely have them.
- baking powder
- unsalted butter
- castor sugar
- maizena (please see notes below on Maizena)
- cream, icing, jam is all optional. Sometimes I add jam, sometimes just cream to sandwich the cakes together or a simple frosting (icing) on top.
Over and above the ingredients you need a stand mixer or hand mixer and bowl and baking pans which will be lined and oiled. I used 2 x 20cm round loose bottom cake tins. Line the bottom of the pan with baking paper and spray the sides with cooking spray or use butter to oil the sides.
The Batter Method
Same applies when using the hand mixer.
The dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and Maizena) are combined in a separate bowl and added gradually to the wet ingredients, in stages not all at once.
- You can use the whisk attachment for mixing, both work. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. I start on speed 2 and then increase to 3 and 4 by which time I add the zest. Stopping and scraping each time.
- Add the flour and eggs one at a time into the creamed butter and sugar. Add an egg, then add a spoonful of flour and repeat - egg, then flour until the flour and eggs are all used. You can stop for a second while adding the egg and flour or what I prefer doing is keep it low speed like 2 and as it combines the flour and egg I add the next batch and so on.
Don't worry about the color of the batter because butter is different across the world, there's also lighting, photography and editing of pictures so stick to the recipe and you will have a wonderful cake.
Now add the orange juice. Follow the recommended recipe card below but I will repeat: add the orange juice a tablespoon at a time, mix and lift the whisk to see how thick the batter is. If it's too thick add another tablespoon but if the batter sort of falls off the hook its' enough juice.
Tips and Suggestions
How to use the ingredients
Flour - I've used cake flour as I do in all my cake recipes because a) it's easily accessible and 2) the cake batter is less prone to gluten formation when using cake flour resulting in a lighter rather than tougher crumb. There is no doubt that cake flour is the better choice in cake making and that it results in soft and tender cakes but for some cakes not all since its so finely milled.
Weigh your flour using a scale for accuracy because baking is very sensitive. If you don't have a scale then use a measuring cup with a spoon and knife called the "spoon and sweep" method. Lightly spoon the flour into the measuring cup and then use the back of a spoon to sweep any access flour off.
Eggs must be at room temperature for a better faster fluff. Taking the eggs out the fridge the night before is ideal. If you forget then take your fridge cold eggs and put them in a bowl with warm tap water. The cold eggs will cool the water immediately so spill it and add more warm tap water and let them sit in the water for 5 mintes.
Baking powder - check the expiry date
Maizena (alos known as cornflour)
What is Maizena it's typically used when making a slurry in the case of adding it to hot foods or it will clump and make lumps if you add it directly. In this recipe I have found a distinct difference when I add it and when I don't. Same recipe, both extremely delicious but obviously different.
What's the difference in adding Maizena vs not adding it?
Without maizena I found the cake much more soft and fluffy. Now although that sounds like a good thing, it is, but I also found that the cake lacked structure. The crumb was not as tight as when as I did add the Maizena. Tight yet light, not tight and hard. Here are 2 slices that represent what I am saying - with maizena on the left and without maizena on the right.
Zest - make sure to use just the zest without taking any white parts of the peel. When adding the zest and juice I always added it in the end of baking, as in the last ingredients until one day I learned that creaming the zest with the butter and sugar releases their flavor oils. Thank you Chopped! I watch a lot of cooking shows.
Butter - As much as I loved how moist the oil made this chocolate cake when I tried it in this orange cake it tasted an orange cake without any flavor. It had to be butter.
Making sure that the butter, milk and eggs are at room temperature is crucial in baking.
I find icing (also known as frosting) is hardly necessary for this cake it's takes away from the essence of the cake which is the orange flavor. With a simple sprinkle of sugar it allows the taste of the cake to shine and you get to enjoy the fluffy sweet texture without focusing on icing. In saying that, the choice is yours, naturally. Here is some inspiration;
- edible flowers
- fresh flowers and some green from your garden just for decorating
- dried orange slices
- fresh thinly sliced and twisted orange slices
- use a peeler to get thin slices of the peel and twist to decorate
- orange or lemon glaze
- castor sugar or castor sugar and an orange glaze!
Honestly and again honestly this cake doesn't need to be served with anything other than a fork to eat it! Trust me that cream filling is everything and more especially if you add a layer of jam.
Make The Best Orange Cake
- Make sure the butter and eggs are at room temperature (butter must be soft)
- Preheat the oven
- Rack in the middle of the oven
- Crack the eggs open one at a time into a separate bowl just to be safe from adding a bad one directly into the cake batter
Storing This Cake
If you are going to keep it in the fridge I would suggest that you place it into a container with a lid to prevent it from drying out. It stays fresh for a good 4 days in the fridge. When the cake is fresh it's always wonderful to leave it on the kitchen counter covered under a cake dome just because 🙂
TIP! Make sure the cake is completely cold before you even think of adding the cream otherwise it will melt! If you make it in the summer add the cream last and straight into the fridge for a couple of minutes just for the cream to settle. Take it out later and leave it under a cake dome once the cream has settled, that seems to work with the weather here in SA.
More Cake Recipes
If you make this recipe be sure to leave a comment and if you love orange cake please give it a 5 star rating below.
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- 200 grams cake flour
- 2 ½ tsps. baking powder
- 4 eggs
- 200 grams castor sugar 1 cup
- 220 grams unsalted soft butter
- 1 Tbsp. orange zest
- ¾ cup crème fraiche or thick whipped cream
- ¼ cup jam citrus, orange, marmalade or your preferred
- 5 Tbsps orange juice
- icing sugar for decoration
- Adjust the oven rack to the lower middle and preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Line the bottom of the tin with baking paper and then spray with cooking spray, spraying the sides of the tin as well. Set aside. It's not necessary to line the sides of the tin.
- To a bowl add the flour and baking powder. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or another bowl if using an electric hand mixer) add the butter and sugar. Beat on low speed till combined. Beat for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add the orange zest and beat once more.
- Gradually add the dry ingredients while the mixer is running, a spoonful at a time and while adding flour, add an egg at a time until the flour and eggs are all used up. Just keep alternating flour, egg, flour egg until all the eggs and flour is used up.
- Add the orange juice, give one final beat and pour the batter into the tins.
- Divide the cake batter between the two lined and greased tins and bake for 22 to 25 minutes or until the tops of the cakes are golden. Check with a toothpick for doneness.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool before removing them from the tins (about 10 minutes)
- Once properly cooled place the cakes on a wire rack to further cool, top side down.
- Turn the one cake top side down onto a plate and spread the jam over. Add the mascarpone or crème fraiche cheese over the jam.Put the other cake, flat side down and sprinkle castor sugar for a light dusting.