Browned Butter Whole Orange Cake

Browned Butter Whole Orange Cake |
  • Browned Butter Whole Orange Cake
Posted on January 6, 2014

I’m bringing you a cake recipe and we haven’t even made it all the way through the first week in January. I feel like I’m committing food blogger sin.

But listen up. This cake is nothing like the dense, rich and overly indulgent cakes that may have tempted you over the Holidays. This cake is like a little burst of much needed sunshine as we settle into the thick of winter. It’s barely sweet with a light, moist crumb. And it has an uplifting orange flavor that will make you forget how dark and cold it is outside.
Browned Butter Whole Orange Cake |

The secret to this cake is two WHOLE oranges. Yup, I said whole oranges. The peel, pith, flesh and juice. All of it. Well, everything except the seeds. Sounds totally weird, right? I was skeptical at first too. But now I’m convinced that I should be putting whole citrus fruits in lots of other recipes. Because the results are pretty spectacular.

The second not-so-secret secret (because it’s in the recipe title!) is browned butter. Seriously. This stuff has magical powers which instantly elevate the flavor profile of any recipe. I know it’s tempting to skip this step and just use regular butter. But I urge you not to do that.

This elegant Browned Butter Whole Orange Cake effortlessly transitions from the brunch table to the dessert tray. Heck, I think you could even have a slice breakfast. The oranges totally make it breakfast food. Right? I think my logic is pretty solid here.



Recipe adapted from Sunset

Browned Butter Whole Orange Cake

Serves about 12

Browned Butter Whole Orange Cake


  • For the Orange Cake
  • 1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • About 2 oranges
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

  • For the Glaze
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • A couple tablespoons fresh orange juice


  1. Make the browned butter. Melt the butter in a saucepan or skillet over medium heat. Whisk the butter constantly until it has deepened in color, smells nutty and brown specks have started to form on the bottom of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully pour the browned butter into a small bowl, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to collect any of the solids. Set it aside to cool for about 10 minutes.
  2. Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees. Coat a 10-cup Bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray. Then dust your pan with a thin layer of all-purpose flour. Set aside.
  3. Wash the oranges and trim and discard the ends. Cut the oranges into chunks and remove any seeds. Place the oranges in your food processor and process until the oranges are finely chopped, but not puréed. Measure out 1 1/2 cups and set aside. Any extra can be discarded.
  4. In the bowl of your mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the browned butter and the sugar until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the processed oranges and beat until well combined. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, mixing until the flour is incorporated and no more white streaks remain.
  5. Spread the batter into your prepared Bundt pan and transfer the pan to your pre-heated oven. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool in it's pan for about 10 minutes. Then invert the pan over a wire rack to remove the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely.
  6. Make the glaze. In a small bowl whisk together the confectioners sugar and the orange juice. Start with 1 tablespoon of orange juice, adding more as necessary to thin out the glaze to your desired consistency. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake. Slice and serve.
  7. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 days.


  • Whoa. I’d never even heard of using a whole orange in a cake, but it’s absolutely genius and makes total sense! 😀

    I’ll definitely have to try this… I wonder if it’d work in pie?


    • Shaker lemon pie uses whole lemons. So I don’t see why whole oranges couldn’t be used in a pie. Sounds delish!

  • It does looks delicious! I was looking for a recipe of Orange cake, but when I looked at the ingredients and in most of them, there was: “a zest of orange skin”! what? that should be called: “Zest of orange skin cake” then 😀
    I am all for whole fruits in cakes. I am going to make this today and sprinkle some chia seeds over it!
    Thank you for sharing!


    • Yeah, this is a good one! Glad you are going to make it. And Chia seeds on top sounds good too :-).

  • This cake is gorgeous! I love orange cake- I’d totally eat it in January 😉


    • Glad I’m not the only one that still eats cake in January!

  • Totally breakfast worthy. I love citrus recipes that use all the zesty goodness from the whole fruit, it makes for so much more intensity of flavor! Great looking recipe.


    • Thank you so much, Brianna!

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