Whole Orange Cake is made with the whole orange, so skin and pulp. This cake, the Pan d’arancio is said to have their origins in Sicily. Sicily produces plenty of oranges especially in winter. I guess it makes sense to use the whole orange especially since the skin is rich in flavour. One story credits the origin of this cake to the Benedictine monastery in Catania in Sicily. While there is no historical confirmation, we do know that many famous European pastries were invented by nuns.
This cake can be made different varieties of oranges but I would suggest using oranges with thinner peel. Those with thinner peel have less pith (the bitter white layer under the skin). I used Kinnow (pronounced Kinoo/ Kinu) which are in season now in India. Kinnows are smaller, juicier, sweet and sour oranges with thin peel. They do have seeds which should be discarded.
About 2 (or 3 if necessary) Kinnows should pulp down to 1.5 cups. Cut oranges in pieces, skin and all, to pulp oranges for this cake. Remove the seeds, and then blend in a mixer/blender a couple of times so they’re still a bit chunky in texture. Do not puree.
My Whole Orange Cake recipe is adapted from here and definitely not authentic or Sicilian. It however makes a very orange scented and flavoured cake that is a little dense, crumbly and moist cake. Most cakes of this kind are generally topped with a sugar glaze. I personally prefer my cakes, with the exception of Lime Cakes, without this. The glaze makes cake too sweet for my taste. So I topped mine with plain semi-sweet melted chocolate. After all, orange and chocolate is a marriage made in heaven.
Serve it with coffee or for a simple dessert or just whenever the craving hits for some chocolate covered orange cake!
Whole Orange Cake
For the Cake :
- 2 oranges ends trimmed, deseeded and cut into chunks
- 150 gm unsalted butter soft at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup unsweetened orange juice
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup almonds coarsely ground
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp baking powder
For the Topping :
- 1 cup chopped semi-sweet chocolate
- 1 tbsp oil or unsalted butter
- Orange zest or candied orange bits for decoration optional
To Make the Cake :
- Start by making the orange pulp. Cut the oranges (skin and all) into pieces, discarding the seeds if any. Run in the blender a couple of times till it is mostly smooth but slightly chunky. Do not puree.
- In a large bowl, using a hand held mixer, beat together the butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and orange juice. With a wooden spoon, mix in the blended whole orange.
- Lightly whisk together the flour, coarsely ground almonds, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Mix this into the batter with the spoon till well combined and smooth.
- Scrape the batter into a well-greased bundt pan. Bake at 165C (325F) for about 45 to 55 minutes till golden brown and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean with only a few crumbs clinging to it. Cool the pan on a rack for about 10 minutes, then carefully invert cake onto rack to unmould it. Cool completely.
To Glaze the Cake :
- Melt the chocolate and the butter over a double boiler. Pour over the cool cake. Decorate with orange zest or candied orange bits if desired. Let the chocolate set well before slicing.