Eating the Whole Thing: An Orange Cake Recipe

[Updated below]

My contribution to the amazing Goose Dinner was a cake I have started calling the “whole orange cake.” When I ran across the recipe on the Singapore-based blog Kuidaore (a blog with phenomenal photography and complex desserts), it immediately caught my attention because it uses the whole orange. Zest, rind, membranes, juice. Everything but the seeds.

How could I not make something like that?The cake has just five ingredients: oranges, almonds, eggs, sugar and baking powder. And so it screams “orange” when you take a bite. The almond flavor is a bit subdued, however, as the ground almonds act like structural elements — like bricks to the mortar of eggs and orange fiber. The rind gives the cake a slight bitterness, which some might find objectionable, but I like it, especially with a mildly sweet sauce. As you would expect, the cake is very moist. It is also very tender because it has neither gluten nor whipped egg whites.

Update: I recently learned that the white part of the orange peel (technical name: albedo or pericarp) is very high in vitamin C, and so the whole orange cake is a vitamin C superstar. Here are three sources which mention the vitamin C content of an orange’s albedo: Wikipedia, Vegetarian-Nutrition, a 1998 article in Natural Health.

Here is my version of the recipe:

Whole Orange Cake
Adapted from Kuidaore, who credits The Cook’s Companion, by Stephanie Alexander

2 large organically-grown oranges
6 large eggs
8.75 ounces (250 g) almonds (ground or whole)
8.75 ounces (250 g) sugar
1 tsp baking powder

Thoroughly rinse and wipe the oranges to remove any traces of dirt or other unwanted coatings. Put the oranges in a medium-sized pot, then cover with cool water. Turn the heat to high. When the water comes to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook for 1 hour. Remove the oranges from the water and set on a plate or cooling rack to cool. When cool enough to handle, cut the oranges into wedges, and remove and discard the seeds. Chop the oranges into medium pieces (including the peel!). When fully cool, place the pieces in the bowl of a food processor.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter and flour a 9.5 inch heavy-gauge springform pan that has a decent seal around the base (I have not had much leakage with my beat-up pans, including one with gaps big enough to see light through).

If using whole almonds, use your food processor to grind them to a meal. To prevent formation of almond butter, add the sugar near the end of the grinding process. Transfer the sugar and almonds into a mixing bowl large enough to hold the batter. Stir in the baking powder.

If using pre-ground almonds, combine them with the sugar and baking powder in a mixing bowl large enough to hold the batter.

Process the chopped oranges until finely pureed. Add the 6 eggs and process for 15 seconds.

Gradually add the egg-orange mixture to the dry ingredients, using a whisk to combine.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the top is golden brown and it has separated from the springform.

Cool completely in the pan. If not serving in the next few hours, store the cake in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container.

Serve with any number of things: caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, ice cream, or the delicious-looking sauce and marmalade from Kuidaore.

A Few Variations:

  • Bake the cake in a non-stick muffin or a standard pan with paper liners (whole orange cupcakes!)
  • Replace the almonds with hazelnuts (Or pecans? Or pistachios?)
  • Replace some of the sugar with honey. I once replaced 100% of the sugar and the resulting cake was too dense.


  1. I’ve made this twice as a passover cake. It’s great, but last year’s cake was a bit too moist.

    I first came across this recipe while watching an episode of Nigella Bites. But I’ve since read that it’s similar to a traditional Middle Eastern cake.

  2. Marc,

    This cake was wondrous! I think the hazelnuts were better for form, texture and taste, but both were fabulous. Thank you for heeding to my request! So few people will bake for me.

    I look forward to what you have in sore for us next week. :}

  3. I make this all the time – it’s dead easy and yummy. My recipe is exactly the same and fron Nigella Lawson’s How To Eat.

  4. I loved how dense and cakey this was, and the slightly bitter tang to the oranges was perfectly balanced by the caramel sauce you made. And you’re a brave man to bake for Shuna, indeed.

  5. Catherine: I always grind my almonds when I make this. They tend to go rancid/stale easily, so pre-ground wouldn’t be so good I think.

  6. Sean — I wouldn’t recommend using the food bank oranges for this cake because we have no idea what insecticides, fungicides and other biocides they have been doused with in the field or packing house. When I make this cake I am sure to buy certified organic oranges.

    Catherine — Each time I have made the cake I used whole, unblanched raw almonds (or hazelnuts). My food processor breaks them into appropriately sized pieces.

    Everyone else — thanks for stopping by. And if you ate the cake at Goosefest, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  7. I made this cake last night. I substituted maple syrup and a bit of stevia for the sugar and baked it in a glass 8" X 6" baking dish. It took longer to bake but I was using the toaster oven. It is delicious. Mine has a sort of custardy feel in the mouth. Next time I'll try adding 1/4 tsp of almond extract or vanilla extract. This recipe is a great find!

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