Four Orange Cake

There are four oranges in this cake. I repeat, the cake that you see above these words? There are four whole oranges in it. FOUR WHOLE ORANGES. I know, I collapsed when I heard about it too. But putting whole oranges into a dessert is a thing, a thing I first heard about on Ruth Reichl’s blog when she wrote about Nancy Silverton’s olive oil cake with whole oranges in it. This isn’t that cake. That recipe has you dice three oranges and throw them into the batter with rosemary, pine nuts, and raisins. In other words: an orange cake for wimps. This orange cake–which comes from a British cookbook that I bought at Omnivore Books in San Francisco–has you boil four whole oranges for two hours, remove the seeds, then pulverize them in a food processor before mixing them with sugar, eggs, almond flour and baking powder. That’s it. It’s the most orangey cake you’re likely to eat in your lifetime.

The book is called The Trifle Bowl and Other Tales by Lindsey Bareham and it’s absolutely lovely, very British, and, unfortunately, unavailable outside the United States. Call Celia at Omnivore and I bet she can get it for you. It’s got charming illustrations and it’s organized by cooking equipment, which I find very clever and unique. This recipe is featured in the “Cake Tin” section, which makes good sense. (To give you an idea of the other sections: Earthenware Pots, Nutmeg Grater, Piping Bag, Sieve, Terrines, etc).


What’s nice about this recipe is that it’s very versatile. It’s meant to feature citrus of all shapes and sizes and if you want to turn this into another citrus-inspired cake, you can call it Seven Mandarin Cake (because that’s how many Mandarins you should use instead of oranges), Six Lemon Cake, or Six Lime Cake (though that may be too expensive these days). But I recommend oranges. To start, place oranges in a pot, cover them with cold water, take the oranges out, bring the water to a simmer, and add the oranges back in.


Cover them with a plate so they stay submerged.


Then cover the pot, make sure the water’s still at a simmer, and walk away for two hours. Your apartment will smell like my favorite ride of all time, Horizons at EPCOT (which no longer exists and, also, is Neil Patrick Harris’s favorite ride); for a modern ride reference, it’ll smell like Soaring Over California from California Adventure at Disneyland. It’s a great orangey smell. Two hours later, your oranges will look like this.


Now the fun part: let them cool. OK, that part’s not fun. But once they’re coolish, cut them open to remove any seeds (these oranges didn’t have any)…


Then put them into a food processor: skin, pith and all…


And away we go!


Cool, right? The rest is stuff you’ve done before: butter your cake pan, beat eggs and sugar until light and fluffy.


Then you take your three cake components–the egg sugar mixture, the blended oranges, and your dry ingredients (almond flour, baking powder, and salt)–and fold them all together.



Pour that into your prepared pan…


…and bake at 350 for about an hour, until the center is stiff and a knife comes out mostly clean.


Let’s be honest, this is a pretty loosey-goosey cake-making experience. I mean: who knows how big the oranges are in England? I just figured if the batter was too wet, it could stay in longer and it’ll all work out OK. And it did. The hardest part was detaching the sides, but with a knife I did an all right job.


Dusted with sugar, you’d never know it wasn’t perfect (well, maybe you’d know just a teensy, weensy bit).


Who cares what it looks like, though, when this cake tastes like an orgy of oranges in your mouth! So much orange flavor. It’s like you took four oranges, boiled them, blended them and made a cake out of them…which is EXACTLY what you did. It’s a moister cake than we Americans are used to…the Brits would call it a “pudding” because they call all desserts pudding, but the moisture level makes that label fitting.

I hope I inspired you to buy four oranges to make this Four Orange Cake. Don’t be mad, but the recipe’s in grams (that’s how it’s written) and I used my scale and was very happy; so get a little kitchen scale and you can use it for all kinds of baking projects–pizza, bread, you name it. Or you can just go on to Google and write “250 grams = cups” and it’ll tell you and you’ll be fine.

Just don’t skimp on the oranges. Three oranges won’t do. This is a four orange cake and you need four oranges to make it.

Recipe: Four Orange Cake

Summary: Adapted from Lindsey Bareham’s The Trifle Bowl and Other Tales


  • 4 medium oranges
  • 6 eggs
  • 250 grams caster sugar (I just used regular sugar) (Use an extra 100 grams if making lemon or lime cake)
  • 250 grams ground almonds (I used almond flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • A knob of butter
  • Powdered sugar for dusting


  1. Wash the oranges well. Place them in a pot, cover with cold water, remove the oranges, bring the water to a boil, add the oranges back in, lower to a simmer, cover with a plate (to keep the oranges submerged) and cover the pot. Simmer for two hours.
  2. Meanwhile, lightly butter a 9 or 10-inch springform pan. Cut a parchment circle to line the bottom and butter that too.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  4. Remove the oranges from the water and when they’re cool enough to handle, cut them open to remove the seeds (or “pips”). Tear the orange into the bowl of a food processor and blitz to a puree with no more than 6 tablespoons of the cooking water (I didn’t need to use any of it).
  5. In your electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar with the whisk attachment until pale, fluffy, and thick. Stir in the almonds, baking powder, salt, and citrus puree to make a stiff batter.
  6. Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for 45 to 60 minutes until the cake is firm in the middle and a cake tester comes out mostly clean. Allow the cake to cool completely in the tin; then run a knife around the edge and carefully remove the sides. Flip the cake on to a plate, remove the bottom, and flip back out on to a stand. Dust with powdered sugar and tell everyone who eats it, “THIS CAKE HAS FOUR ORANGES IN IT!”

Preparation time: 30 minute(s)

Cooking time: 1 hour(s)

Number of servings (yield): 12

My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)

73 thoughts on “Four Orange Cake”

  1. Nut allergy here! Think this could work with AP flour instead? Or maybe coconut flour for another flavor?

      1. Stephen Greenhalgh

        Any flour will work? Corn flour maybe or perhaps cassava (manioc) flour! Whey to go ‘amateur’ gourmet. Now do we have any professionals on this site?

  2. I was just at Disneyland California Adventure – that’s my favorite ride (and smelling the oranges is my favorite part), but the line was too long so we went home. Guess I’ll have to make this cake instead!

    1. someone should do a Soarin’ cake with elements from all the scents of that ride (though it might be a tricky to squeeze in sea breeze in there)

  3. Nigella has a very similar cake with clementines. Super easy and yummy. If you switch out some of the almond flour for chocolate, you get a chocolate orange cake that is even better!

    1. Ha, i just posted a really similar comment. I make her cake but with melted dark chocolate drizzled/spread all over the top. I’ll have to try putting chocolate in the batter – do you just add in some cocoa powder? (Mixing in chocolate chips would probably be great too.)

  4. Cowen Park Kitchen

    Cool cake idea! I bet it would be fun to experiment with different types (blood oranges, seville, cara caras, etc!)

    1. Rachael Kieselstein

      I think it is interesting that so many things have different names. I had to look up Cara Cara Oranges, it came back as Sunkist! What a neat name, now I have to try this out to confuse my husband when I send him to the store. “I’d like some Cara Cara Oranges please.” “What kind honey?”

  5. Kenneth Aliaga

    Hi Adam. I love your blog, it has been the source of many great meals. I tried out this recipe today and had a culinary misfire (which can be pretty fun). The only adjustment I made to the recipe (which granted could have been a pretty big one) is that I used all-purpose flour instead of almond flour. I used the same amount of flour that the recipe called for even though I was wary since almond flour doesn’t have gluten. The cake was easy to make and came out nice. The issue was with the taste. It definitely tasted like biting into an orange, peel and all. The bitter aftertaste overwhelmed the sweetness. I like the idea of the recipe and in the future would probably try it with more sugar (I used 1 cup this time) and spring extra to buy the almond flour.

    1. Adam Amateur Gourmet

      Hi Kenneth, wow I’m impressed at how quickly you made this, though sad to hear it was too bitter to enjoy. Our cake was definitely balanced and I’m not sure if that has to do with the almond flour or the oranges I used (Navels). Tinker around and see what you come up with… Thanks for reporting back!

      1. Rachael Kieselstein

        Dear Adam,
        I was curious about another news story on CNN, and your Four Orange Cake popped up…! I need some cake now. :) I’ll have to come share yours? :)

      2. I wonder if it has to do with using oranges from California (tree ripe and sweet) or oranges in the rest of the country where they may be dry and tasteless?

      3. Hi Adam
        Just joined and I know this is off topic , although I have made an Italian orange cake very similar to yours which was lush , but I was wondering if you had an idea for a left over Panettone that I made ?

              1. Stephen Greenhalgh

                Have you tried making it with new panettone? Personally, I find it is far better to just use bread and eat the obscenely overhyped and overpriced panettone before it turns to shit.

      4. Stephen Greenhalgh

        ‘tinker around’? Err do you mean you never even tried the recipe? Are you posting crap? I can tinker around, anybody can tinker around, some can tinker until they are orgasmic with the results. But if you are posting surely you have a product that you are happy with and you would desire some replication of your tinkering. Or are you just guessing?

    2. I’ve made this cake a bunch of times, and the key to not having too much bitterness is to choose a thin-skinned orange variety. Better luck next time?

    3. Stephen Greenhalgh

      So basically our ‘amateur’ chef is a twat? Go on just say it, the recipe sucks. That is why we are allowed to comment.

    1. Stephen Greenhalgh

      I would go for litres of juice. The oranges I have are huge but are so dry. what is the point of having huge oranges if when you suck them nothing comes out?

  6. We put the oranges in cold water and then take them out. What, immediately? How long do we soak them in cold water before simmering?

    1. you don’t need to soak the oranges – the point in covering them with cold water is to judge how much water you’ll need to cover them, not an actual part of the preparation itself.

  7. This is similar/identical to Nigella Lawson’s clementine cake, which i’ve made several times. (She gives weights not just units, so i could tell her ‘about 3 clementines’ was actually 5 clementines for me.) It’s always super good, but i highly recommend melting a bar of dark chocolate and drizzling it over the top of the cake (after the cake is cooled). It takes the cake from really good to amazing.

    1. Lovely cake, just google ingredients and ammounts to convert from grammes to ounzes (the way a lot of older English people were taught to way things in) or to cups.
      Another good cake is use the same ingredients, just replace sugar with half the weight of powdered sugar substitue ( in the UK we have a sugar substitue called Canderelle) and make the same way. It is slightly less moist but still tastes good and is useful for anybody who cannot use sugar.

  8. This just totally made my day. I have navel, cara cara, and mandarins right now …decisions, decisions.

  9. much prefer grams myself…but then we can do a conversion. Can’t wait to make it. I guess we could mix the citrus flavours as I have lemons, limes, mandarins and ugli…would be a bit like marmalade! Why not line the sides of the tim=n too for easy removal…I always do that.

  10. much prefer grams myself…but then we can do a conversion. Can’t wait to make it. I guess we could mix the citrus flavours as I have lemons, limes, mandarins and ugli…would be a bit like marmalade! Why not line the sides of the tim=n too for easy removal…I always do that.

  11. Chiming in a bit late, but I gather this is a classic Judeo-Spanish recipe, originally popularised by Claudia Roden in her Book of Middle Eastern Food (she repeats it in her Book of Jewish Food which I have). It’s very popular as a GF option in Australian cafes :)

  12. quick question, noticed you used navel oranges but for seeded citrus — should the those be taken out before the chopping blitz or does the “everything in processor” rule still apply?

      1. Evangeline Phillips

        Will this recipie work using Lemons instead of Oranges? My son cannot eat oranges but can eat lemons.

  13. Ginny Murrell

    Just curious, but is this cake overly moist? I’ve made orange cakes before and they were just too wet for my taste. I love citrus cakes, and would like to try this, but 4 oranges?

  14. Andrew J Brown Jr

    I made this last night. Reading the recipe I knew that sticking to the sides of the pan would be an issue so I lined the sides with a circle of parchment paper – you know, spary the sides, stick on the paper, spray the paper. The cake pulled away beautifully. It was super moist, SUPER. This will take some getting used to..I’ll post a photo of it to G+ as I don’t see how to post one here

  15. Stephen Greenhalgh

    Personally, since I only have access to Chinese hormone induced oranges I would go for only a half an orange. Better safe than sorry!

  16. I make a similar cake, differences being,

    Boiled the oranges for just 7 minutes after the first whistle in a pressure cooker.
    Used cashews ground with 50 gms of the 250 gms sugar.

    Made a syrup with 1/2 cup sugar, zest of 2 oranges, juice of 1 & 1/2 oranges, simmered for about 8 minutes. When cool, add around 30 to 60 mls vodka (adjust as per individual taste.

    Pour over the cake when cooled & allow to soak overnight.

  17. Forgot to mention, I bake in a 9″ round glass dish, add the syrup & leave it to soak and serve in the same dish. This way the cake does not break up.


    1. Has anyone tried baking this recipe as cupcakes? If so, I’d love to hear how they turned out. Also, how long you baked them, at what temperature, and how many cupcakes you ended up with. I love the cake as it is, but would like to venture out into the cupcake realm.

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