This orange cake is a delicious dessert and I serve it in lots of different ways.

The cake itself is light as air and flavoured with orange zest and juice. It can be baked in a round or square tin or as a sheet cake for cutting into squares.

Fresh out of the oven I prick it with a toothpick, pour the rest of the orange juice over it, and sift a generous powdering of icing sugar on top, making an icing of sorts. At this stage it can be served as is with afternoon tea (or morning coffee). You could also make a simple glacé icing by mixing together the icing sugar and orange juice, and drizzling it over the cake.

As a dessert I serve the cake with caramelised oranges, making a flavoured caramel to pour over segmented oranges and spooned on the side served with cream or crème fraîche. Cointreau or rum can be added to the caramel to make it grown up and boozy.

For a dessert buffet I layer up squares of the cake on a large platter with mascarpone, fresh raspberries and a summer fruit coulis – it’s pretty as a picture and totally delicious.

Oranges vary a lot in size, so this recipe is based on using 1 large and very juicy orange.

If the oranges are small, or not very juicy, double up.


(this will fill 2 x 20cm round cake tins, or 1 x 20cm square tin. Double the recipe to fill a 35 x 27cm baking tin).

170g unsalted butter, softened

170g caster sugar

3 large free-range eggs

170g self-raising flour

1tsp baking powder

1tsp bicarb of soda

Pinch of salt

Zest of 1 large orange

1tbsp orange juice (reserve the rest for drizzling)

To decorate:

2 large oranges, peeled and segmented (cut either side of each membrane, do this over a bowl to catch all the juice)

200g caster sugar

50ml water

45ml Cointreau or Rum (optional)

4 Cardamom pods or one stick of cinnamon (optional)

Whipped cream, mascarpone or creme fraiche to serve

Fresh berries if you have them

A few mint leaves

Icing sugar for dusting


Preheat the oven to 170C. Line your cake tins with baking parchment or use non-stick spray.

In a large mixing bowl with a hand or stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between additions. Add the orange zest.

Weigh out the dry ingredients and mix them together, then add in three stages to the mixing bowl, adding in the orange juice as you go. Make sure it’s all well mixed together with no floury lumps, then pour into your prepared cake tins and bake for 20-30 minutes until done (it should be brown and well risen. A toothpick inserted in the middle will come out clean, or you can gently press the middle with your finger, it should spring back to the touch).

Put the tins on a cooling rack and prick all over with a toothpick or a fork. Drizzle over the remaining orange juice and let it soak into the cake. Dust generously with icing sugar and leave to cool.

Peel the oranges with a serrated fruit knife, removing all the pith, and then over a bowl use the knife to cut the orange into segments, leaving behind the inner pith and membrane. Do this over a bowl to catch all the juice. Strain the juice into a jug and reserve the orange segments in the bowl.

Now make the caramel. This can be daunting but it’s really easy when you know how!

Use a heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat the sugar and water together, gently agitating the pan but without stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Now turn up the heat and allow the sugar syrup to boil vigorously, shaking the pan every now and then to make sure the heat is spreading evenly. This can take 10-15 minutes but keep an eye on it.

The syrup will start to change colour from brown at the edges to a red-brick terracotta – don’t let it go too far or it will burn.

Now, turn off the heat and, using oven gloves to protect your hands, pour in the reserved orange juice. It will hiss and splatter so stand well back. Stir the orange caramel to combine, and wait 5 minutes for it to cool slightly before adding any flavouring (otherwise they will burn and be bitter). I use 3-4 cardamom pods, a single cinnamon stick and/or or a slug of orange-flavoured liqueur or rum.

When the caramel is cool, pour it over the orange segments.

Serve the cake with the caramelised orange segments and cream, crème fraîche or mascarpone, decorated with mint tips and dusted with icing sugar.

© Linda Galloway 2020