Sicilian whole orange cake is a moist and delicious crowd-pleasing dessert. It is called a whole orange cake, because the entire orange is used, peel and all. Perfect for any occasion, but such a treat with a cup of tea or coffee.
My mother found the original Sicilian orange cake recipe for this divine baked treat on an Italian website, and I can’t even begin to describe how moist and fruity it is. The orange scent that fills your kitchen as it bakes is also heavenly! It contains a whole orange, peel and all (no seeds), and you’ll need another orange if you make the glaze.
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The original recipe calls for an ingredient that’s mostly only available in Italy, so my mother adapted it for the rest of us and even added some yogurt, and the result is fabulous! Many of you have asked…
What is Paneangeli or Pane Degli Angeli?
Paneangeli is the brand (translating to angel bread). Pane degli angeli means “angels’ bread” alluding to how light the product makes cakes and bakes. However, in plain English, the packets contain a vanilla-flavored baking powder. To me, when I smell it, it makes me feel like I’m in Italy because it’s used in so many cakes and pastries. Sorry for the pun, but the aroma is heavenly!
Getting ready for Christmas? Try these authentic Italian Christmas recipes which are great all year long!
Just know that the texture of this cake is different than a typical American cake: it’s more dense and heavy, but it’s meant to be that way. The whole orange cake also has a lovely glaze made with orange juice that soaks into the top of the cake, and works perfectly with blood oranges, too. I made a whole blood orange bundt cake to test them out (more than once)!
Tip: I once accidentally boiled the glaze into a syrup (forgot it was on the stove) and when I glazed the cake, it hardened and gave the cake a candy-like topping. I loved it! If you’d like to try this, just simmer the glaze an extra 6 or 7 minutes or so.
Everyone who’s tried it, loves it. Honestly, it’s just such a unique and crowd pleasing cake! Here’s a recent review (edited May 2023) which is only one of almost 2,800 reviews averaging 4.8 stars!
“Amazing, moist, delightful!
My whole family went back for THIRDS, didn’t last very long in our kitchen! Thanks for sharing” -Tianna
Gluten free diet? Try my gluten free recipe of this Sicilian Orange Cake!
It even gives perfect results when I make a gluten free whole orange cake. Of course, you can probably guess what I’m going to say next: you really need to use the best oranges you can get your hands on for this Sicilian whole orange cake recipe to turn out as deliciously as possible. If you can find organic, sweet, juicy oranges without a super thick rind, you’ll have it made.
Got kumquats? Make these kumquat cupcakes.
Just be sure to make this orange cake before citrus season is over! I’m sure there are other recipes for orange cake using fresh oranges, but I’d bet that this just may be the best orange cake in the world! It’s also perfect without the glaze as many have added in the comments and reviews. Speaking of reviews, take a look at all the rave reviews and comments, many bakers declaring it is the best cake they’ve ever made!
Edited Dec. 2020: I’ve just made a cranberry twist to this recipe!
Edited February 2019: I’ve made this orange cake recipe in a loaf tin, and it’s perfect. I’ve also made it in a bundt tin and the amount of batter for one recipe makes a short bundt cake. If you’re going to use a bundt tin make 1.5x the recipe.
Speaking or oranges, did you know arancini means little oranges? Try my popular recipe!
Can I Freeze this Sicilian Whole Orange Cake?
Yes, this orange cake freezes beautifully! I often have pieces in the freezer because it freezes so well!
Now adding my Sicilian Whole Lemon Cake, too! I’ve adapted this recipe for Meyer lemons! It’s fantastic!
Do I Have to use a Food Processor to Make this Orange Cake?
I’ve been asked if a food processor or blender is necessary to make this cake and the answer is, “yes.” Unfortunately, it would be too difficult to chop the orange as finely as needed by hand. You can see how fine the orange is processed in a photo below, however, an inexpensive food processor works great.
EDITED 7/2022: Daniel Coffey (a reader) left a tip for those of you without food processors in the comments below. Since it might be difficult to find, I’m adding it here:
“I…cut the peel into coarse strips and then finely diced them. I put the chopped bits of orange into the spice grinder in two batches and pulsed the stick blender a few times. I tapped it on the counter top to shake down any remaining coarse bits and gave it about 30 seconds. Scrape out and repeat for the other orange half. You can then put the juice and finely chopped peels in the recipe as normal.”
Sicilian Whole Orange Cake
adapted by Lidia Conte from Pan d’Arancio from Allaciate il Grembuile
I highly recommend using a scale for this recipe and if you are deciding cups or weight, ALWAYS weigh!
FULL PRINTABLE RECIPE BELOW
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C)
Make the whole orange cake
Prepare an 8″ springform pan by spraying with oil (or butter) and lining in parchment paper (sides optional, if you want really clean sides), then spray the paper, too.
Place the sugar and eggs in a large bowl and beat with a mixer until light and creamy.
Sift the flour with the baking powder or Paneangeli, then add to the mixture in the bowl a little at a time along with the softened butter. Continue to mix until completely blended, then stir in the yogurt.
In a food processor, or blender, process the whole orange until it is almost pureed. It should look like this~
Add the processed whole orange to the cake mixture (along with the vanilla if you used baking powder) and stir until evenly combined Put the batter into the prepared tin.
Bake the cake
Bake for 50-60 minutes (depending on your oven), but test with a cake tester or skewer to make sure the orange cake is done before removing from the oven. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes, then run a thin knife around the perimeter and remove the side of the springform pan.
Make the orange glaze
Prepare the glaze by melting the sugar in the orange juice and allow to simmer for a few minutes, just until the liquid has a syrupy consistency. Spoon and brush the hot glaze over the top of the warm cake and allow to cool completely before cutting. Yes, it’s hard to wait, but the moist orange cake will cut more easily if it’s cool first.
Eat the Sicilian whole orange cake!
Love citrus? Try making this lemon posset, but using oranges (or an orange/lemon combo) instead! It’s honestly one of my favorite desserts! It’s similar to orange boodle, but even easier, which is saying a lot. Oh, and I just keep making this recipe using all sorts of fruits. So far I’ve made apple cake, pear cake, peach cake, kumquat cupcakes, and tried lime, but the rind is too bitter. I will post here when I tweak the recipe to make it work.
Sicilian Whole Orange Cake
The most luscious, moist and delicious orange cake you'll ever try!
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/8 c (250g) sugar
- 1 3/4 c (275g) all purpose flour
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder (or 1 packet Italian Pane Degli Angeli vanilla baking powder)
- 1/3 c (100g) butter, softened
- 1/3 c (100g) plain Greek yogurt (yes, sour cream works, too)
- 1 large organic orange, about (300g), washed and cut into pieces (with the rind, but remove the seeds)
- (if using plain baking powder add 1 tsp vanilla extract)
- juice of one organic orange
- 1/3 c (100g) sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C)
Make the whole orange cake
- Prepare an 8" springform pan by spraying with oil (or butter) and lining in parchment paper (sides optional, if you want really clean sides), then spray the paper, too.
- Place the sugar and eggs in a large bowl and beat with a mixer until light and fluffy.
- Sift the flour with the baking powder or Paneangeli then add to the mixture in the bowl a little at a time along with the softened butter. Continue to mix until completely blended, then stir in the yogurt.
- In a food processor, process the whole orange until it is almost pureed.
- Add this orange to the cake mixture (along with the vanilla if you used plain baking powder) and stir until evenly combined, then put the batter into the prepared tin.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes (depending on your oven), but test with a cake tester or skewer to make sure the orange cake is done before removing from the oven. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes, then remove the side of the springform pan.
- Prepare the glaze by melting the sugar in the orange juice and allow to simmer for a few minutes, just until the liquid has a syrupy consistency.
- Spoon and brush over the top of the cake and allow to cool completely before cutting.
Make the orange glaze
I've made this orange cake recipe in a loaf tin, and it's perfect.
I've also made it in a bundt tin and the amount of batter for one recipe makes a short bundt cake. If you're going to use a bundt tin make 1.5x the recipe.
Yes, it's hard to wait, but the moist orange cake will cut more easily if it's cool first.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 233Total Fat: 6.4gSaturated Fat: 3.6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 54mgSodium: 69mgCarbohydrates: 37gFiber: 1gSugar: 22.5gProtein: 8g
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By the way, I do not have the pan you recommended. An 8×8 worked well for me.
I made the cake exactly as directed. Fifty minutes was exactly right for me. The cake is lovely. Thank you for sharing it with us.
Can I make this into a chocolate orange cake? Swap out flour for cocoa? Is it as simple as that?
You could make it a chocolate orange cake, but no, not that simple. You’d have to keep some flour and experiment with how much cocoa to add. It isn’t a simple switch. I have not done it, so I can’t help, sorry :(
I made this cake twice and it’s not cooked through either time .. baked for 55 mins the first time and 80 the second and still has a raw layer near the base. Each step
Looks exactly the same as the photos.
Any ideas ?
Hi Jennie, that doesn’t make sense since there’s a 25 minute difference in the baking time, so I wonder if there’s something wrong with your oven? Do you have a thermometer in it to check the calibration? That’s what I would do first. I don’t think it’s anything you’re doing since it’s such a simple cake and like you said, if it looks like the photos, I’d start trouble shooting with the oven. Let me know. CC
P.S. A raw layer at the bottom is also bizarre. Never seen that. If a cake is underbaked, it would be raw in the middle.
No salt? Really lovely cake, delicate orange flavor. With the first bite I realized there was no salt. I think it could benefit from a half teaspoon. I did use salted butter too. European butter, which makes everything better. Going to try the whole lemon cake next.
Not lacking in salt for me. It’s a sweet cake, so not like noticing salt is missing in bread. I think ½ teaspoon WITH salted butter will be too much, tbh. Glad you liked it!
When you say softened butter, do you mean melted? I had quite a few lumps in my mix!
No Gwen, softened butter will mix fine into the batter. What do you mean by lumps in the mix? I have made this cake countless times with softened butter and never had an issue. Maybe it’s not soft enough?
What can I do if I don’t have yogurt or sour cream? Could I skip it? Or should I add something else?
I have never made it without, so I can’t say how it would be without it, Linor. I would wait to make it when you have all the ingredients.
What about making this as a KETO cake, with almond flour?
How much almond flour would i use, so it is not too dry?
Hi again, Lucy! Without using almond flour, I truly don’t know. However, I have a successful gluten free version already.
I’ve just made this cake swapping the wheat flour for 175g ground almonds and 100g rice flour and used cream cheese from your gluten free recipe version instead of yoghurt. I didn’t have all of the gluten free recipe ingredients to hand so kept it simple by using the normal recipe and swapping the flour for ground almond and rice flour seemed to work fine. I made it in cupcake cases (made 18), bake time roughly 25 minutes, and they came out beautifully. Really nice moist flavourful cakes that are going down well in the office today!
Thank you, Celia! That will be helpful to other readers, too!