This orange loaf cake perfectly embodies the type of cake I absolutely love! It is unfussy, boasts straightforward flavors and has a tender and springy crumb.
The orange loaf cake is moist but not too moist, this is no stodgy or fudgy cake. On the contrary, it’s light while still remaining buttery (it’s a French cake after all and we adore butter).
A CLASSIC DESSERT
I think a slice of a delicately citrusy orange loaf cake is the perfect tea-time treat! There is something about the simplicity of a loaf cake that makes it so inviting. And the fact that it’s reminiscent of childhood memories, at least for French people, definitely adds to the comfort this cake brings. Orange loaf cake keeps well for days so if you bake it during the weekend you could be set, dessert-wise, for the week. If it lasts this long of course!
Every French family has a loaf cake in their repertoire. We use the English word ‘cake’ for every cake baked in a loaf pan. It doesn’t matter if it’s a pound cake (traditionally made with a pound of each butter, sugar, eggs and flour), a yogurt cake, or this type of lemon or orange loaf cake. If the batter has been baked in a loaf pan, we’ll call it a cake! Even if it’s a savory batter, studded with cheese, olives, and chopped herbs. We’ll cake it a cake salé (salty cake). At my place, my loaf pan is mostly used to make this orange loaf cake or my mum’s chocolate marble cake.
→ ZEST & JUICE THE ORANGES
Strip the zest of the 2 oranges with a vegetable peeler. Grind the peels in a food processor with the granulated sugar. Slice the oranges in half, prick them several times with a fork and squeeze out their juices. Measure out the juice and divide it. You will need 60ml (¼ cup) for the cake batter and another 60ml (¼ cup) for the glaze.
→ MAKE THE BATTER
Beat the softened butter with a hand mixer or a sturdy whisk until creamy. Add the orangey sugar to the mixing bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat for 1 min after each addition. Whisk in ⅓ of the flour mixture followed by the milk. Whisk in another ⅓ of the flour, followed by 60ml (¼ cup) of orange juice. Add the remaining ⅓ of the flour mixture and whisk gently just until incorporated. Scrape the batter into a buttered loaf pan. Bake the orange loaf cake in an oven preheated to 180°C (355°F) for 1h, loosely covering the cake with a sheet of aluminum foil after 40 min have passed.
→ PREPARE THE GLAZE
Pour the reserved orange juice into a small saucepan. Add the sugar and place over medium-high heat. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 3 min. Pour the syrup into a small bowl and let cool for 5 min. Glaze the top and sides of the orange loaf cake.
I sometimes use this recipe as a base for orange loaf cake but change things up a bit to break the routine. If you want an:
- orange loaf cake with chocolate chips: Once the batter is ready, gently stir in 100g (⅔ cup) of your preferred chocolate chips. Bake the cake as indicated in the recipe. If desired, melt 100g (⅔ cup) more chocolate chips in a double boiler or in the microwave (melt in 15-second increments, stirring after each increment until completely melted). Drizzle over the cake with a teaspoon once glazed.
- orange poppy seed cake: Once the batter is ready, gently stir in 4 tsp of poppy seeds. Bake the orange loaf cake as indicated in the recipe.
- lemon orange loaf cake: Add an additional 45g (⅓ cup) of flour to the dry ingredients mix. Add the zest of 1 lemon and an additional 50g (⅓ cup) of granulated sugar to the food processor in the second step. Juice the lemon and add it alongside the 60ml (¼ cup) of orange juice while finishing the batter in the third step.
In the mood for more orangey desserts? Here are some of my favorite recipes:Print
There is something about the simplicity of an orange loaf cake that makes it so inviting! It is unfussy, boasts straightforward flavors, and has a very tender crumb while still remaining buttery.
For the batter:
- 155g butter (1 ⅓ sticks or 5.5 oz), plus a bit more to grease the pan
- 2 large oranges
- 150g granulated sugar (¾ cup)
- 280g all-purpose flour (2 cups)
- 11g baking powder (1 tbsp)
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 80ml whole milk (⅓ cup), at room temperature
For the glaze:
- 50g granulated sugar (¼ cup)
- Soften the butter. Cut the butter into small cubes and place them into a large mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with whatever is handy (plastic wrap, aluminum foil, a tea towel, a plate,…). Leave the butter at room temperature until completely softened. It might take up to 3 hours if your kitchen is cold. There should be absolutely no resistance when you press a finger into a cube. Butter a 23cm (9-inch) non-stick loaf pan. If your loaf pan is not non-stick, butter it all the same and line it with 2 overlapping strips of parchment paper that are long enough to cover the bottom and sides with 5cm (2 in) of overhang on each side (butter the lower parchment to secure the one on the top). Set the pan aside for now.
- Remove the zest and juice. Strip the zest of the 2 oranges with a vegetable peeler. Be gentle, try to avoid the bitter white pith. Grind the peels in a food processor with the granulated sugar. The fragrant oil extracted from the zest will color and moisten the sugar. If you don’t have a food processor, use a fine-tooth rasp grater to grate the zest of the orange (avoiding the white pith) directly into a bowl. Add the sugar to the bowl and use your fingertips to rub the zest into the sugar. You won’t get the same amount of flavor from the zest but it’ll still be a delicious cake! Slice the oranges in half, prick them several times with a fork, and squeeze them over a bowl to get the juice out. Measure out the juice and divide it, you will need 60ml (¼ cup) for the cake batter and another 60ml (¼ cup) for the glaze.
- Make the cake batter. Preheat the oven to 180°C (355°F). In a large bowl stir together the flour and baking powder and set it aside. Once the butter is really soft, beat it with a hand mixer or a sturdy whisk (or use a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment) until creamy about 1 min. Add the orangey sugar to the mixing bowl with the butter in it and beat until light and fluffy about 2 min. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat for 1 min after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Now switch to a whisk if you were using a hand mixer (or keep using a stand mixer but reduce the speed to low). Whisk in a third of the flour mixture followed by the milk. Whisk in another third of the flour, followed by 60ml (¼ cup) of orange juice. At this stage, the batter might look grainy but it will come together once the last third of flour is added. So, add the remaining third of the flour mixture and whisk gently just until incorporated.
- Bake the cake. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread about evenly. Place the pan on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper. I find it easier to remove the hot pan from the oven while holding a sheet rather than directly touching the loaf pan. It also makes clean-up easier in case of drips or overflowing batter (which shouldn’t happen but better safe than sorry). Bake for 1 hour, loosely covering the cake with a sheet of aluminum foil after 40 minutes have passed to prevent over-browning. After 1 hour in the oven, the cake should have risen well and be golden brown. To make sure it is cooked, insert a toothpick into the center, if it comes out clean your cake is ready. If not, bake it for an additional 5 min and check again. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool for 15 min. Run a toothpick (or a blunt knife) around the perimeter of the cake. Tip the cake out onto a cooling rack. Be gentle, the cake is very tender. Let cool completely.
- Make the glaze. Pour the leftover 60ml (¼ cup) orange juice into a small saucepan. Add the sugar and place the pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the sugar has completely dissolved. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 3 min. If you have an instant-read thermometer do use it to check the temperature. It shouldn’t go over 105°C (220°F) or the glaze will harden too much and won’t be spreadable. Pour the glaze into a small bowl and let it cool for 5 min. Use a pastry brush to apply the orange syrup over the top and sides of the cake.
If you stock it you can stir in 1 tbsp of Grand-Marnier, Cointreau, or another orange liqueur in the pan while making the glaze.
The cake will keep at room temperature under a cake dome or tightly wrapped in foil for up to 4 days.
- Serving Size: 1 slice
- Calories: 313
Keywords: easy french cakes, old fashioned desserts, winter baking