This traditional French cake (there’s a similar Sicilian version), is simplicity at its finest, though the preparation is a little strange. Oranges are boiled whole, then puréed in their entirety and mixed with eggs to create an incredibly moist, rich cake with a sunny orange flavor. Perfect for brunch or any time you’ve got some fragrant fruit on hand…
Whole oranges? What about the pith! Or the seeds? Won’t it be bitter?
This cake has that exquisite French quality of not being bothered by silly things like rules or limitations— with delicious results. While the pith and the seeds of citrus are notably bitter, boiling them for an extended period of time mellows that away until all you taste is bright, clean orange. And you don’t lose any of the nutrients in the fruit. The humble ingredients and effortless techniques (boil water, push buttons on a food processor, grease a cake pan, open and close the oven door a couple times) lets anyone envision themselves in a rustic French farmhouse, casually throwing together a delicious treat from a few simple, fresh ingredients.
Five eggs? Isn’t that a lot?
Some versions of this recipe call for a full half-dozen! Using five eggs produces a cake that is moist and almost custardy, and inadvertently packs a lot of protein into a decadent dessert— having a slice with breakfast or brunch isn’t unreasonable at all.
Orange, eggs, sugar and a little flour— this sounds a lot like a soufflé?
It’s very similar, at least in the ingredient list! Except this recipe is the easy, somewhat lazy, no-muss no-fuss version. Traditional soufflé technique calls for separating the egg whites and beating them until they form stiff peaks, then carefully folding them into the rest of the batter (which would merely contain citrus zest and a little juice). A soufflé could never support the weight of an entire orange’s fiber. The texture of this cake is closer to a fallen, dense soufflé-custard hybrid— and requires no elaborate technique to prepare.
Can I use any oranges for this? What about those tiny clementines?
Any regular-sized orange will be delicious in this recipe: Naval oranges will taste bright and turn it a glorious sunrise color, a cake from blood oranges will be more complex and may turn a little pink, and Cara Cara oranges will produce a clean, nearly candy-like sweetness. Smaller varieties won’t work so well— the ratio of peel and pith to pulp throws off its balance and produces a not so good cake.
That isn’t much flour. Is it really enough?
The little bit of flour helps provide structure for the batter as it cooks, and ensures a more evenly baked cake without having to use a bain marie (water bath around the cake pan). Any more flour and it would change the crumb and make a leavening agent necessary.
Jägermeister? In a cake? Is that a joke?
While many people think of this spirit as existing in a “Shots!” milieu, full of inebriated guys and gals throwing it back right before the night takes a raucous turn, it’s actually a multifaceted liquor with a lot of botanicals (including super sweet orange peel from Ghana). In this cake, it blends in gently and gives the orange flavor a depth and fascinating complexity it won’t have otherwise. If you want to double down on orange, substituting Grand Marnier will make the flavor pop, but not quite as interesting. Keeping the liquor cabinet closed? The cake will still be bright, delicious, and sing of oranges with every bite.
The water left behind after boiling the oranges smells amazing. Do I have to throw it out?
It makes a great cup of black tea, or a wonderful base for chai to sip while you’re waiting for the cake to bake. You could also toss in a cinnamon stick or few slices of fresh ginger while the oranges boil for a home that smells like a holiday.
Recipe adapted from the original source by Tory Davis. Photo by Miha Matei Photography
- Bring a medium pot of water to boil over high heat. Add whole oranges, ensuring enough water to cover (oranges will float a bit). Cover; reduce heat to simmer, and boil 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease round cake pan (8-inch or 9-inch). Remove oranges from the pot with slotted spoon and rest on cutting board.
- When cool enough to handle, cut oranges in half and place entire halves in a food processor. Purée until smooth. Add eggs; purée to blend. Add sugar, salt, and Jägermeister if using; purée. Add flour; pulse to blend.
- Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick or metal skewer inserted in center comes out clean, about 45-47 minutes. Let cool briefly.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
|Calories180Calories from Fat35|
|% DAILY VALUE|
|Calories from Fat35|
|% DAILY VALUE|
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.