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