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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I made this cake today for a Coronation Tea in our Village Hall. This is the 7th time I have made it and it is a firm favourite amongst the Villagers. I did, for a charity cake sale, drizzle melted plain chocolate over the top of one and it was fabulous.
7 times, wow, that’s fantastic, Gill! Thank you so much, makes me happy!
Has anyone tried making cupcakes from these? I want to make 24 cupcakes for a birthday party (I’ve made this recipe before as a cake and it was amazing!). Im thinking I’ll double the recipe, and bake for the standard 15 to 18 minutes?
I’m planning on making this on the weekend so 1 question please.
The cake is warm. Is the syrup also hot or cool?
Thank you :)
Yes, it absorbs better with warm cake and hot syrup, Maria :) Enjoy!
Really awesome cake! Mine is a little squat, I only had 9 inch springform. Guess I’ll need to get an 8 inch. I wonder if this can be made with grapefruit? That would be great also.
Ah yes, the 9″ will be shorter. Grapefruit is about the only citrus I have yet to try. I keep wanting to go to the farmer’s market for organic fruit to make it, but haven’t done so. I think it would be very good with sweet grapefruit!
I made it for the first time tonight. Delicious! will definitely make again.
this cake is AMAZING and so easy! I want to make it again and transport to my parents. just wondering if I could freeze it? if I can do I glaze it before freezing or after thawing.
Yes, you can freeze it! I have glazed it beforehand and it’s fine either way. So happy you love it! Please click on the 5th star in the recipe card if you can. Thank you!
the recipe doesn’t mention where the 1/3 c of butter goes is that for buttering the tin?
please help I’m ready to start mixing it and I don’t know what to do with the butter
Hi Margaret, you just missed it. Step 3. Hopefully you caught it. Let me know how it turned out.
hello! how long should I simmer the glaze for?
Hi Lavinia, just a few minutes (3 to 5). If you do it longer it was start to get sticky, longer and it will become caramelized. I forgot about it once and it hardened on the cake and was quite delicious! So, you really can’t go wrong :)
Working up my courage to try this for my sister-in-law’s birthday! Does the cake need to be completely cooled before adding the warm glaze?
No courage needed, a child can make this cake! No, Debbie glaze it while it’s still warm for best results.
Can we replace the sugar with honey?