This whole orange cake is gluten-free, grain-free and can even be made paleo! Throw some fresh cranberries in for a great Thanksgiving or Christmas dessert.
This cake is sometimes referred to as a flourless orange cake, but it does have almond flour in it. Like most almond flour cakes, it has a lovely dense texture and is super moist.
If you’d prefer a light and fluffy cake, I’d suggest finding a different recipe. Although I have a lot of cake recipes, I, unfortunately, don’t have an orange one.
I would say that I have this citrusy Italian Lemon Almond Flour Cake, in which you could sub orange, but it’s also dense. I’ll add fluffy orange cake to my list of to-dos!
I love how few ingredients this cake has.
- Oranges – you need two to boil and puree + two more to zest.
- Eggs – no sub for these, unfortunately.
- Granulated or coconut sugar – use coconut sugar for paleo. The result is still surprisingly orangey!
- Almond flour or meal – I used blanched almond flour in these photos.
- Fresh cranberries – optional but add a great zing.
- Bakig powder + salt
Lots of orange flavor
This orange cake has two whole oranges in it – peel and all! I would really recommend using seedless oranges for that reason.
You can use oranges with seeds, but then you need to pick them out before tossing the oranges in your food processor or high-speed blender.
It also has zest from two additional oranges because I wanted loads of orange flavor. Orange extract isn’t needed in this cake as it’s super orangey with the whole oranges and zest.
Don’t run off!
I first posted this recipe nine years ago, and when I revisited the recipe recently to make it again, I saw the part about boiling oranges and thought, “Oh, heck no…” and then almost closed the recipe.
But it’s actually really easy. You do have to boil the orange for a total of 30 minutes, but the hands-on time is actually really low.
Why do you boil the oranges?
So you put two oranges in a pot and cover them with cold water. Then you boil for 15 minutes, rinse, and add in more cold water.
And why is that? “It has to do with osmosis. When you simmer citrus peels in clear water, a lot of the bitter flavonoids in the pith travel into the clear water due to osmosis. The more flavonoids in the water, the fewer flavonoids leave the peel, and eventually they stop leaving altogether. So you have to switch the water to continue the process,” says a user on Reddit, who can definitely explain this better than I can.
So now you bring the water to a boil again and let it go for another 15 minutes. From start to finish, this process takes about 50 minutes. But the hands-on time for the orange boiling is about 3 minutes.
I’d stick around the kitchen until the oranges come to a boil and then you can set a timer and leave.
They’ll float to the top, but they bob around after a while, so you don’t need to worry about flipping them over to ensure both sides of the oranges get boiled properly.
You also don’t want to poke them or cut into them. You want to disturb the cells as little as possible while they’re processing.
The point of all this is to soften the oranges and also to reduce the bitterness in the peel.
If you want, you can boil the oranges a day in advance. Then on the day that you want to bake the cake, they’ll be all ready to go.
Can I freeze this cake?
Yes! Let the baked cake cool completely, and then wrap it in plastic wrap. Then place in a Ziploc bag.
You can freeze it for up to 1 month. To defrost, place it in the fridge overnight. Once it has completely defrosted, pour the glaze over the top.
That makes this a great make-ahead option for Thanksgiving and Christmas! I know that I love to make as much as possible ahead of time as I can.
Other than this Gluten-free Mac and Cheese (which, like all mac and cheese, doesn’t freeze well), and some veggies, our Thanksgiving dinner is already prepared and in the freezer. ;)
Numbers are skyrocketing here and I’m prepared for a lockdown. Here’s what else I have waiting for our family of three:
- Air Fryer Turkey Breast
- Gluten-free Cornbread
- Paleo Vegan Caramel Pecan Cheesecake
- Cranberry Orange Sauce
- Red-skinned Mashed Potatoes – mashed potatoes don’t freeze so fantastically, but if you reheat them for several minutes on the stove and stir a lot, I find that they’re just as good. What you don’t want to do is just thaw and reheat them in the microwave. Then they are awful.
Can I use a different flour?
You could use almond meal instead of blanched almond flour. The result will be darker than what you see in the photos because the almond meal has little bits of almond skin in it.
All-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, coconut flour, etc. will not work in this cake.
One of the commenters mentioned using a gluten-free 1-to-1 flour in place of the almond flour, but I haven’t tried it myself.
I would say, though, that those two types of flours aren’t at all interchangeable. So I think it’s a bit risky.
Can I omit the cranberries?
Sure! You can even use dried cranberries if you don’t like the little sour bursts that fresh cranberries add.
I poured half the cranberries on the bottom of the pan and the other half into the batter. But you can also just fold them all into the batter or put them all on the bottom of the pan.
What you don’t want to do is pour in the batter and then top the cake off the cranberries. I can tell you from experience that they’ll burn.
To make this cake paleo, I used coconut sugar in place of the granulated sugar, and I also omitted the syrup. The cake is more of a tan color than orange, but it still looks quite nice.
I originally posted this recipe without the syrup, and it’s really unnecessary. But I was feeling fancy when I remade it.For the paleo version, I first made it with 175 grams of coconut sugar instead of 200 grams of granulated. That was definitely not sweet enough. At least, not for me!
I would recommend going with 200 grams unless you really don’t like things that are very sweet.
If you want to use honey or maple syrup, you need to find another recipe. There’s no liquid in this recipe to reduce to make up for the added liquid from the maple or honey.
A honey-sweetened orange cake sounds amazing, though! Perhaps next year. :)
Can I make it vegan?
Egg subs won’t work in this recipe. Sorry. :/
It already has a dense texture and there are very few ingredients, so I really wouldn’t recommend experimenting.
For an orangey vegan treat, you could try my Gluten-free Orange Cookies. Or for something healthier, this Banana Orange Smoothie!
If you make this gluten-free orange cake, I’d love for you to leave a comment below. And you know I want to see them! Just snap a pic 📸 and tag #texanerin so I can easily find them.
Grain- and Gluten-free Cranberry Orange Cake
- Prep Time:
- Cook Time:
- Ready in:
- Yield: 12 pieces
- 2 medium oranges (mine were 215 grams each)
- zest from another 2 medium or large oranges
- 3 large (50 grams each, out of shell) eggs
- 200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar or coconut sugar for paleo
- 3 cups (300 grams) blanched almond flour or meal
- 1 teaspoon baking powder1
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
- zest and juice of 1 medium orange
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
For the cake:
For the optional syrup2:
- Preheat your oven to 350 °F (175 °C).
- Grease a round 8" (22cm) springform pan.
- Put the oranges in a pot and cover them with cold water. They will float a little.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook for 15 minutes.
- Drain and then cover the oranges with cold water again and boil another 15 minutes.
- Remove them from the pot, rinse with cold water and let cool for 10 minutes or until you're able to cut them without burning your hands.
- Cut into fourths and remove any seeds.
- Process the orange pieces in the bowl of your food processor until smooth. Add the zest of two oranges and give it another whirl.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together using an electric mixer. Beat until pale and thick and then gently fold in the orange, almond flour, salt and baking powder.
- Fold in half of the cranberries.
- Pour the other half of the cranberries over the bottom of the pan. They'll roll around, and not be perfect and that's fine.
- Pour the batter over the cranberries and bake for 1 hour (prepare the syrup while it bakes) or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 15 minutes before flipping it over.
- Prepare the orange syrup while the cake is baking. Mix together the orange zest, juice and sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat for 2-3 minutes or until the sugar is dissolved and the syrup has thickened a little.
- Turn the cake onto a serving plate. Use a skewer to prick holes over the top of the cake (not into the cranberries). Spoon the syrup on top.
- Let cool another 30-60 minutes and then slice.
For the syrup:
Adapted from Taste.com.au
65 comments on “Whole Orange Cake (so flavorful, only 6 Ingredients!)” — Add one!
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Hi, Erin, thanks a lot for such a wonderful recipe. I love orange as a flavour, and this cake was dense, orangey, and absolutely delicious.
Unfortunately I didn’t have enough almond flour in my pantry, so I added what I had… about 30 g and used King Arthur gluten free flour for the rest. For the syrup, I just used freshly squeezed orange juice and honey. I’ll try making it with almond flour next time to see how the texture was supposed to be had I followed the instructions to a T. Everyone loved it!
Hi Fatima! I’m so glad that everyone loved it and that it worked well with your subs. I wouldn’t have even dared try that. ;) I hope that you’ll enjoy the all almond flour version just as much! Thanks a ton for your feedback.
Thank you so much for sharing this amazing cranberry orange cake recipe! Will surely have this again! It’s really easy to make and it tasted so delicious! Highly recommended!
Had it this weekend – AMAZING! So difficult to find milk-free recipes that still taste like cake. I will try it again but want to try baking it in a Bundt cake pan (may require less baking time).
Hi Daniel! I’m so glad that you enjoyed it. :) If you try it in a bundt pan, please let me know how it goes! Thanks a bunch for your feedback.
Hello from the East Coast of Canada Erin. An update on your amazing cake in a Bundt pan. It worked out beautifully. I am at sea level here on the Atlantic Coast, so I baked it at 375F instead of 350F – also to spread the cranberries, I stirred one cup in the batter, I put an even row (1/4 cup) at the bottom of the greased Bundt, filled the pan with half the remaining batter and put 3/4 cup in the middle, and topped it with the rest – Because of the Bundt pan, my baking time was 50 minutes at 375F (internal temperature of 210F – It turned out great. Thanks again for your recipe
Just love this cake: I’ve made it many times for GF folks and others and always get compliments, thanks! Can you freeze it? I’d love to make 2 and have one in reserve.
I’m so glad that you’ve been enjoying the cake! I’ve never frozen it but really think it’d freeze fine. I can’t guarantee it, though. If you try it, please let me know how it goes. :) Thanks for your comment!
I halved the recipe since I only had one orange. I subbed 1:1 gluten free flour and I used two small eggs (since an egg and a half is difficult!). It came out just fine. I just ground the orange up the way another reviewer suggested. The next time I’ll make it with the almond meal just for the additional almond flavor, but just wanted others to know it works with the 1:1 flour too.
I’m sorry for just now seeing your comment! It’s great to know that 1:1 GF flour works well. What brand did you use? Thanks a bunch for your comment!
I am wondering if I can make this cake with 2 cups of almond flour and 1 cup of coconut flour? The cake looks delicious!
Thanks! Unfortunately not. Coconut flour isn’t interchangeable with any other flours as it absorbs much more liquid. You could sub another type of nut flour or nut meal for the almond flour, though!
Thank you, Erin. I have all my ingredients and am in the process of making this cake tonight. I’m looking forward to it.
Hi Erin – Well, I made the cake. Absolutely love the flavor. It turned out real good. The picture you show of the cut piece of cake appears lighter than mine turned out. I used almond flour. I actually purchased two different packages of almond flour, and one of them said “super fine” almond flour. I ended up using the other which looked more course. Thank you for sharing this recipe. My husband loves it also.
I do have one last question on this cake. I love it so much that I want to make several of these and have them available to take to family holiday get together, or gift to friends. Before I make quite a few of these, can you let me know if these freeze well? If they don’t, then I’ll look at other recipes you offer that I know will be okay to freeze. Thank you again.
Almond meal looks to be more dense than almond flour. Would this cake be lighter if I use the flour instead of the meal?
Not by much. It’s a pretty dense cake whether you use meal or flour.
I make cranberry orange relish every year for Thanksgiving with my grandmother’s old fashion meat grinder. 1 bag of cranberries, 2 oranges grind up and add 3/4 cup of sugar or a bit more if oranges are too sour. Put in fridge and use as a topping on Turkey. I saw this recipe and said YES!! a bag of cranberries was on sale for .49 cents!! I can’t see boiling the oranges too much work for me. I’m going to just grind them up like a do for the relish and I’ll let you know how it comes out. Looks amazing! I know how it feels to go to a party and all the desserts are out and you can’t have any because they all contain wheat.
I’d love to hear how it comes out! Sounds like a real time saver. :) And 49 cents! Wow. That was an awesome deal.
I made this with the ground oranges and ground 1/2 cup cranberries then threw in 1/2 cup hole cranberries. The other cup went on the top and looked just like your picture. I had a few difficulties, only a 9″ springform pan so thought i’d just add a bit more flour. I did 2 1/2 cups of almond meal flour and 1 cup of 1:1 king Arther gluten free. I threw in 4 tablespoons of butter with the eggs and sugar. When I mixed in the oranges and flour and baking soda the batter was so thick and dry, so I added orange juice to try and thin it a bit. I like walnuts so I threw those in too. The cake came out more like a bread so moist and everyone loved it! I froze half and took it out for Christmas and everyone loved it there too! My Aunt said she could eat it all day. It wasn’t overly sweet I just kept the 1 cup of sugar. Making another one as I still have cranberries and oranges.
Holy moly. That’s awesome that it came out well with all your changes! That’s great. :) I like the idea of it Thanks a bunch for your comment and sorry for my slow reply (Christmas chaos got in the way!).
Would this work if I used regular flour? I have no reason to use gluten free.
Sorry but it wouldn’t. Almond flour’s not interchangeable with all-purpose (or any wheat-based) flour.
Can I use rice flour?
The only other type of flour that could possibly work is another type of nut flour / meal. Sorry about that.
I am loving this cake and your “I have to try it hole!” Haha! I just developed a recipe for a cranberry-citrus coconut bundt cake for Potluck next week, I bet the two are similar in flavor and texture because mine uses almond flour as well. I would love to eat a slice of each right next ti each other. YUM!
Erin- I’m IN LOVE with this. Definitely making it happen for our Christmas dessert table this year. There’s no better winter combo than cranberry & orange and the grain free part totally won me over :)
Yay! I hope you’ll all love it. :) And yeah… love cranberries and orange together!
Made this for Thanksgiving, was wonderful!
Awesome! I’m happy to hear that. :) Thanks for your comment!
i followed the recipe to the last detail, but it was so bitter because of the orange peel. tried adding some almond extract but that didn't help. too bad, otherwise would have been good
I'm sorry to hear that. :( I've made it a few times and it's always been nice and sweet. I'm sorry that it didn't come out for you! I wish I knew what went wrong, but I guess it depends on the orange. Sorry again!
I have a 'wheat' muffin recipe that calls for the whole orange, processed thrown in… so i am for sure going to try this recipe as i have only sat and watched people enjoy my muffins.. :)
it looks beautiful and delicious. I would definitely go for organic oranges here :)
Wow, gorgeous cake! I'm always so impressed with cakes like this, because I hardly ever make them. This looks just wonderful. And I just love your "I have to try it!" hole, haha! You're awesome!
What a beautiful cake, Erin! I love cranberries and orange together – so good!
Thank you! And I agree… so good! Wish I had even more cranberries to bake with.
Cranberries and oranges are one of the best combos when they're in season! I love the hole in the side. It adds character!
Haha. Character… sure. ;) I like that! And aren't oranges in season now? Or is that some weird European thing?
This looks like a delicious cake! I love the taste of oranges in baked goods. I've only ever heard of putting whole citrus fruits in cakes when I saw a recipe for lemon cake. It's interesting, putting the whole fruit in a processor and whizzing it up. Maybe this will be a new way to get fruit into my diet! Haha, can you imagine, getting your daily dose of fruit by eating cake.
Haha. Becca… I don't get how you don't like fruit. It's sweet and you like sweet stuff! My vegetable hatred is at least logical. ;) That stuff is bitter.
It's mostly to de with texture. I don't like gushy things.
Then it makes total sense. I'm the same way with sauces (other than dessert, cheese and tomato sauces). Yuck.
I love the hole! So funny!!! And I think your close up is beautiful! This looks like an amazing cake. I cannot believe how expensive almond flour is! I bought it to make macarons (which of course flopped) but man it is crazy expensive! Anyway, this cake looks beautiful. I bet it was a huge hit
Aww, thank you. :) You can use almond meal! Is that cheaper? Or you could take some whole almonds and make your own almond meal! The one good thing about baking ingredients in Germany is that almond flour is really, really cheap and you can find it everywhere. It's the same price as almond meal, which is the same price as whole almonds. Woohoo. Something to be happy about. :)
Too funny about the hole…
You really crack me up with that one! :)
As for cranberries, I eat them by the handful! You should try them, they're good. Of course, dessert recipes involving cranberries are ALWAYS appreciated… :)
But they're so expensive. I spent 15CAD/kg on mine. :( Oh well. It was Thanksgiving. I got me some cranberries!
What??? That's insane! They go for about 3 bucks a pound here this time of year. And you can sometimes get them for cheaper than that too. Wish I could ship some over to you!
Say, how are you feeling, my friend? A little better, I hope?
Wow. That's insane. I would be making cranberry everything if I were you! And eating them as snacks too. :)
I'm not feeling any better but thanks for asking. Although, I did mess up on one day (not willingly) and the next day my tummy hurt. Could just be a coincidence or maybe it means something! When I'm done with the month, I'll pay careful attention to what happens with my stomach.
my grain/gluten-free best bud. Erin, you've done it again! This looks amazing. I've never made a gluten free cake before! I love the combo of cranberry and orange this time of year – just had a cranberry orange scone the other day. :)
Haha. I'm only your grain/gluten-free friend for the month! After my experiment, I hope to go back to eating "normal" stuff. So I really hope that I don't improve with going gluten-free. Kind of weird, but I do. And I hope you share your cranberry orange scone recipe!
This sounds really delicious and I love how simple it is! I think you were right to use granulated sugar too. As much as I like using honey/maple syrup where I can, I think you probably need the grains of sugar for the structure of the cake. Can't wait to try this!
I'm happy that you agree with me concerning the sugar! And the only thing that's not super simple about this recipe is the boiling of the oranges. It is simple, but kind of of annoying. It's worth it, though. :)
This looks absolutely delicious. I love cakes makes with almond flour! I have never seen fresh cranberries, so I think frozen berries would be fantastic.
Yeah they would! As long as they're not sweetened or something. Good luck with finding frozen ones! I haven't found them over here. :(
omg this cake looks absolutely delicious! :D can't wait to try it! do you think it would work if i used something else intead of cranberries? like frozen blueberries?
Of course! Blueberries would be an amazing substitution. Or raspberries! Oh boy. Let me know how it goes. I hope you enjoy it. :)
that cake looks fantastic. unfortunately though i do not have a food processor do you think i could make it without? or that by chopping alone which will not get it as fine will change the texture too much?
Do you have an immersion blender? Maybe that'd work. Or using a hand mixer. I don't think chopping it will work because it needs to be like a puree. Perhaps putting the cooked oranges in a big bowl and then smashing it with a glass would work? Good luck with whatever you do! :)
I love the "I have to try it!" hole, ha! And this cake looks just wonderful – wish I had a slice right now.
You can always tell when it's my cake because of the hole. :)
An "international-pleaser" cake? Uh yes please! And just look at those plump cranberries on top! Can't believe you had to go to 5 different stores but it definitely looks worth it!
Haha. Yes. It was a pain! But very worth it. :)
Wow this is super simple and looks incredible. Hardly any ingredients at all. I am loving this cake and I hope to make it very soon!! I hope my cranberries stay on top like yours though :-)
Thank you! I hope you can make it soon. It's really soft and not so sweet and just plain delicious. Hope you like it. :)