A slice of this quick, easy, soft and moist orange loaf cake is the perfect light dessert. This cake is also a great addition to a brunch or afternoon coffee break.
Baking a sunny-looking orange cake in the middle of winter brings me joy. From the silky yellow cake batter that bakes up into a delightfully orange cake. Tenderly drizzling the sweetened orange juice over the warm cake and watching it soak in.
This orange loaf cake is delightfully light and fresh. Reminding me of the oncoming Spring.
Which is exactly what I needed as the days remained grey and rainy here in Christchurch. This cake comes hot on the heels of my other Spring inspired Raspberry and White Chocolate Loaf Cake. The need for light, fresh and fruity bakes is definitely strong at the moment!
Here are some notes on the ingredients used in this recipe. Please see the recipe card for quantities.
- Granulated or caster sugar to sweeten the cake.
- Eggs to bind the cake together.
- Zest and juice of oranges to give a delicious orange flavour.
- Flour - plain, all-purpose, standard grade or cake flour (South Africa).
- Baking powder to give the cake lift and lightness.
- Butter to add a nice deep rich flavour to the cake.
- Icing sugar, powdered sugar or confectioners sugar for the glaze.
- Vanilla extract to add some dimension to the flavour.
Test the freshness of your baking powder or baking soda (bicarbonate of soda or bread soda) by placing a small amount in some boiling water. If it bubbles and fizzes, it's good to use!
Salt is a crucial ingredient in all baked goods. I use table salt in all my recipes. One teaspoon of table salt equals 1.5 teaspoons of Morton Kosher Salt equals 2 teaspoons of Diamond Crystal.
Room Temperature Ingredients
Use room temperature ingredients! Using room temperature ingredients ensures that ingredients in the batter or dough will incorporate easier. Take note that room temperature refers to around 20°C/68F.
- To bring eggs to room temperature quickly, place them into warm water for about 10 to 15 minutes.
- To bring butter to room temperature quickly, cut the butter into cubes and zap in the microwave at 20% power in 10-second intervals. Or place the cubes in a bowl over warm water (such as with a double boiler) over low heat for 1 minute!
- Milk, buttermilk, and cream can be brought to room temperature by zapping in the microwave at 20% power in 10-second intervals. Or on a low heat for a minute or two swirling every 10-15 seconds.
Weighing ingredients is more accurate than measuring cups overall, and this is my recommendation for my recipes as they are all developed and tested using grams only. However, I have activated the US customary conversions on the recipe card, these are based on generally accepted conversions. Cups are equal to 236mL/ 8 fluid ounces, tablespoons are 15mL and teaspoons are 5mL.
Measuring cups and spoons are an essential addition to every kitchen! Especially if you don't use a kitchen scale. Invest in a set to ensure you add the correct ingredients for accurate measuring. When in doubt - always use a level spoon or cup measure.
How to Make an Orange Loaf Cake
This specific cake is based on my Vanilla Tray Bake. In which I use the method of beating the eggs and sugar together before adding melted butter. I prefer this method, mostly because room temperature butter can be difficult to obtain in New Zealand, especially during the cooler months of the year.
This cake can either be enjoyed by drizzling with the sweetened orange juice or by making an orange glaze.
Preheat the oven to 170°C/340F. Grease a loaf tin and set it aside. Melt the butter and allow it to cool a bit. Zest one of the oranges using a zesting tool or Microplane. Juice all of the oranges.
TIP - Zest the orange before juicing. Before juicing the oranges, roll them on a countertop of a chopping board under the palm of your hand to make the juicing easier. Oranges can be juiced either using a juicing implement or squeezing by hand.
NOTE - A single orange gives me about a ¼ cup of orange juice, or 60mL.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until the mixture is light, fluffy and doubled in size. This will take 3 to 5 minutes using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer.
With the mixer running on the lowest setting, pour in the melted butter, vanilla, orange juice and milk. Mix until well combined.
Either whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and add to the wet ingredients or sift the ingredients over the wet ingredients. Toss in the zest of one of the oranges. Mix until combined.
TIP - Mix the batter until just combined, do not overmix the batter as this can make the cake tough.
Pour or spoon the cake batter into the prepared loaf tin. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or just until a cake tester or toothpick comes out mostly clean. Be careful to not overbake the cake.
Step 6 - Orange Drizzle
In the last 5 to 10 minutes of baking, place the orange juice and sugar into a heat-proof bowl and zap in the microwave in 15-second increments, stirring in between until the sugar is dissolved. When the cake is finished, slowly spoon the drizzle over the cake while the cake is warm, allowing it to soak in. Let the cake cool completely before serving.
Step 7 - Orange Glaze
This is an optional extra. I like the cake without any glaze, but for a little extra sweetness, a glaze can be added to the cake once it is completely cooled.
Combine the icing sugar and orange juice to create a thin icing glaze. Pour over the cooled cake.
TIP - Start with ½ a tablespoon of orange juice, and mix to combine. Add more orange juice a little bit at a time until you have a pourable but not too thin glaze.
Step 8 - Storage
This loaf cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. After 3 days store in the fridge for a further 2 days.
Pro Tips for this Recipe
Fan-forced or fan-assisted oven temperature must be decreased by 20°C/25F. Use an oven thermometer to determine the accuracy of your oven dial.
Metal bakeware is superior when baking biscuits, cookies, brownies, muffins and quick bread, scones, cakes. These heat up and cool down faster than glassware. Glassware is heavier, heats up and cools down slower than metal and is more suited for bread puddings, pies, crisps, crumbles and cobblers.
When I'm looking for oranges, I'm generally looking for a locally sourced orange. Once that is nice and plump and has a delightfully orange colour. The more fragrant the orange the better...although that can be hard to determine in these mask-wearing times.
How to Zest an Orange
Zest refers to the thin outer coloured layer of an orange filled with all the flavourful citrus oils.
To obtain the zest, use a Microplane, vegetable peeler, grater or zesting tool to scrape off the outer portion of the orange. Avoid the pith or white part as this is fairly bitter and doesn't add flavour.
How to Juice an Orange
Roll the oranges on a kitchen counter or chopping board with a decent amount of pressure to break the segments and pulp the inside of the orange. Then slice them in half and either squeeze the halves into a jug or glass container.
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Orange Loaf Cake
- loaf tin
- stand mixer or electric hand mixer
- 3-4 oranges
- 150 grams caster sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 75 grams butter
- 50 mL orange juice juice of a orange
- 60 mL milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 220 grams flour
- 2½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 50 grams caster sugar
- 100 mL orange juice juice of 2 oranges
Orange Glaze (Optional Extra)
- 80 grams icing sugar
- ½-2 tablespoons orange juice juice of ½ an orange
- Preheat the oven to 170°C/340F. Grease a loaf tin and set it aside. Melt the butter and allow it to cool a bit. Zest one of the oranges using a zesting tool or Microplane. Juice all of the oranges.3-4 oranges, 75 grams butter
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until the mixture is light, fluffy and doubled in size. This will take 3 to 5 minutes using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer.150 grams caster sugar, 2 large eggs
- With the mixer running on the lowest setting, pour in the melted butter, vanilla, orange juice and milk. Mix until well combined.75 grams butter, 50 mL orange juice, 60 mL milk, 2 teaspoons vanilla
- Either whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and add to the wet ingredients or sift the ingredients over the wet ingredients. Toss in the zest of one of the oranges. Mix until combined.220 grams flour, 2½ teaspoons baking powder, ¼ teaspoon salt
- Pour or spoon the cake batter into the prepared loaf tin. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or just until a cake tester or toothpick comes out mostly clean. Be careful to not overbake the cake.
- In the last 5 to 10 minutes of baking, place the orange juice and sugar into a heat-proof bowl and zap in the microwave in 15-second increments, stirring in between until the sugar is dissolved. When the cake is finished, slowly spoon the drizzle over the cake while the cake is warm, allowing it to soak in. Let the cake cool completely before serving.50 grams caster sugar, 100 mL orange juice
Orange Glaze (Optional Extra)
- Combine the icing sugar and orange juice to create a thin icing glaze. Pour over the cooled cake.80 grams icing sugar, ½-2 tablespoons orange juice
Nutrition information is an estimate. If scaling the recipe remember to scale your cook and bakeware accordingly.