This Orange Cake recipe packs a big citrus punch with plenty of orange zest, juice, and liqueur. Fragrant and dense, this loaf cake is topped with a gorgeous orange glaze for extra flavor.
This orange-infused version of a pound cake is rich and decadent yet so simple to put together. You can dress it up with whipped cream and fruit or serve it plain with a cup of tea or caffe macchiato. Any way you slice it, this cake is always a winner.
Why You’ll Love This Orange Cake Recipe
- Simple ingredients. You may already have many of the ingredients needed to make this luscious cake. Take advantage of the winter citrus season and make this recipe often.
- Packed with flavor. From the orange zest to the orange liqueur and the sweet orange glaze, this cake is brimming with citrus flavor in every bite!
- Standout texture. One of the nicest things about this cake, besides all the amazing orange flavor, of course, is its texture. You’ll end up with a velvety, light crumb in each bite, making it difficult to stop eating!
Ingredients For Orange Cake
- Flour: Use the spoon and level method to measure your flour accurately.
- Baking powder
- Orange zest: If you can, use an organic orange for the zest.
- Eggs and egg yolk: This combination makes the loaf extra rich.
- Buttermilk: Or you can substitute whole milk.
- Orange juice: Freshly squeezed orange juice will give the best flavor.
- Orange liqueur: Such as Grand Marnier.
- Vanilla bean paste: I love using vanilla paste because of the concentrated vanilla flavor, but you can also use pure vanilla extract.
- Powdered sugar: Used for the glaze.
- Orange juice: Freshly squeezed orange juice makes this cake stand out.
How to Make Orange Cake
Follow along with the photos below to help guide you through making this simple orange loaf cake. The detailed instructions will be in the recipe card further down the page.
- Prepare. Preheat the oven and grease a loaf pan. Sift together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Cream butter and sugar. Beat the butter, sugar, and orange zest together until light and fluffy.
- Add eggs. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
- Mix in wet ingredients. Beat in the buttermilk, orange juice, orange liqueur, and vanilla until combined.
- Combine. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients until the batter is smooth.
- Place in pan. Pour the batter into the greased loaf pan.
- Bake. Place the cake in the oven and bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes.
- Add orange juice. Poke holes in the surface of the warm cake and drizzle with orange juice.
- Make glaze. Mix together the powdered sugar and orange juice until smooth.
- Drizzle. Cool the cake, then drizzle it with the orange glaze.
- Serve! Decorate the finished cake with orange slices, blueberries, and rosemary. Cut and serve.
Tips for Success
This is such a simple, lovely cake, similar to a traditional pound cake. It’s difficult to mess up, but I have a few tips that will make sure it turns out well!
- Room temperature ingredients. To help create a smooth batter, bring the butter, eggs, and buttermilk to room temperature before making the cake. Check the butter to make sure it’s soft enough – when you press gently, you shouldn’t meet much resistance.
- Use good-quality butter. Because butter is the backbone of this orange loaf cake, try to use fresh, good-quality butter.
- Sift the powdered sugar. This glaze is simple yet flavorful, and you don’t want to have any lumps of powdered sugar clumping it up. Sift the powdered sugar fully before you whisk in the orange juice to create a smooth glaze for the top of the cake.
- Use freshly squeezed orange juice. You can certainly use store-bought orange juice, but for the freshest, best flavor, squeeze the juice yourself.
- Don’t overmix. Be sure not to overwork the batter – mixing it too much can cause the cake to get rubbery or tough. Once you’ve created a smooth batter without any streaks of flour, you can turn off the mixer.
- Make it ahead. You can bake this orange cake a few days before serving it. Store the cake, covered, in the fridge. The flavors will develop the longer it rests. Bring the cake to room temperature before serving.
- Try other citrus. Yes, this is an orange loaf cake, but you can use the base recipe to create a lemon, lime, blood orange, or tangerine loaf cake. Substitute the same amount of zest and juice as the orange, and either omit the orange liqueur or leave it in for a subtle orange note.
How to Store
Cover the cake lightly in foil or place it in an airtight container and keep it on the counter for up to 2 days or in the fridge for up to 1 week. You can also freeze the whole cake or individual slices. To freeze the entire loaf, wrap the cake in plastic wrap and then foil, and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. Or, wrap slices of cake in plastic wrap and place them in a freezer-safe, sealable bag in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw the cake completely in the fridge before eating it.
More Cake Recipes
For the cake:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons orange zest
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 3 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 tablespoon orange liqueur
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, or pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup orange juice, for soaking the cake before glazing
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
For the Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8×4-inch loaf pan with butter and dust it with flour. Set aside.
- In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, and sea salt. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream together the softened butter, granulated sugar, and orange zest until light and fluffy. This process should take approximately 4 to 5 minutes.
- Reduce the speed of the electric mixer to a low and add the eggs, one by one, beating well after each addition.
- Then, add the buttermilk, orange juice, orange liqueur, and vanilla; continue to mix until incorporated.
- Gradually add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet mixture, mixing well with a spatula or an electric mixer on low speed to get a nice, smooth mixture. Be careful not to overmix to maintain the cake's light texture.
- Pour the batter into the greased loaf pan, spreading it evenly. Tap the pan gently on the counter to remove any air bubbles.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Once the cake is baked and out of the oven, but it's still warm, use a toothpick or skewer to poke holes over the whole top surface. Slowly drizzle the fresh orange juice over the cake, then transfer the cake from the loaf pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the Orange Glaze
- Strain the freshly squeezed orange juice through a sieve to remove any pulp.
- In a separate bowl, sift the icing sugar. Gradually add the orange juice to the icing sugar, spoon by spoon, stirring thoroughly between each addition. Stir until well combined, achieving a smooth glaze.
- Once the cake has cooled completely, drizzle the orange glaze over the top, allowing it to cascade down the sides.
- Optional: Decorate with fresh sliced oranges, fresh blueberries, sprig of rosemary, etc.
- Cut and Serve.
- Room-Temperature Ingredients: For a smooth batter, use room-temperature butter, eggs, and buttermilk.
- Sift Powdered Sugar: To get a lump-free glaze, sift the powdered sugar before adding orange juice.
- Fresh Orange Juice: If possible, use freshly squeezed juice for the best flavor, though store-bought is okay to use.
- Avoid Overmixing: Mix just until the batter is smooth and streak-free to prevent a rubbery texture.
- Make Ahead: Bake the cake in advance and store it covered in the fridge. Serve at room temperature.
- Experiment with Citrus: Try lemon, lime, blood orange, or tangerine instead of orange.
- Storage Tips: Store the cake covered at room temperature for 2 days or refrigerate for up to 7 days. Freeze the whole loaf or slices, wrapped in plastic and foil, for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge before serving.