When life gives you lemons, bake a flourless orange cake

By September 2, 2012Blog, dolci - sweets, recipes

I love how oranges brighten up a cold winter. Beautiful tangy oranges are a must in my kitchen during winter – not only because they brighten the place up, but also because you can have them with so many meals in the day – squeezed as orange juice for breakfast, grated zest with red beetroot gnocchi for lunch and whole in flourless orange cake for afternoon tea.

This much loved and much cooked flourless orange cake is made with 2 oranges, boiled whole for a couple of hours and then placed – skin, pips and all – into a blender. The resultant smooth orange puree is added to eggs, sugar, almonds, baking powder – a total of 5 ingredients. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. It is great to have a recipe that is suitable for your gluten free friends as well.

I have made it with blood red oranges and it is just as nice as using regular oranges, though if they are less sweet you may need to adjust the sugar. I love how blood oranges are available in Australia – back in the early 1970s and I was a little girl living in Italy, I was rather skeptical of red orange juice which my aunt would squeeze for me. It was clearly the wrong colour. However I grew up to know better – just because they are called oranges, it doesn’t mean they have to be orange.

This is a dense and moist cake that will keep for a week – I keep it in the fridge – I think it gets better with age! I serve it dusted with icing sugar and with a large dollop of mascarpone or creme fraiche. When you are having a bad day (and life gives you lemons), bake a flourless orange cake.

Flourless orange cake
2 oranges
5 large eggs
250g almond meal
250g caster sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
icing sugar (for dusting)
mascarpone or creme fraiche (for serving)

Cover the oranges with water in a saucepan and simmer on low heat for 2 hours. Drain and allow to cool. Chop them into a few pieces and place them in the blender and whizz into a pulp. Place to one side.

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees. Beat the eggs with the sugar until well combined. Add the orange puree and continue beating until the mixture is homogeneous. Now add the almond meal and baking powder – some recipes say to fold the final ingredients in – I used my KitchenAid for the lot and it worked out fine. Place the cake mixture in a greased and lined tin with a removable base. Place in the oven and bake for 50 – 55 minutes until the cake is golden on top and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.


Place on a cooling rack and allow to cool before placing some icing sugar on the top using a fine sieve. Serve with mascarpone.


  • Seb says:

    Paola I actually made this exact cake on Sunday n brought it to work last Monday for my birthday delicious . I have been recently told this cake can also be made without boiling the oranges but I haven’t tried yet .

    • That is great Seb, it is so easy to make and lasts for so long (except it gets eaten much more quickly than that in my house). Happy birthday for last week too xx

      • Krista says:

        I have made this and it was so good:) just wondering could I use this recipe to make cupcakes?

        • Hi Krista, I never make cupcakes so I would not know for sure, but I imagine the answer would be yes, you would just have to reduce the cooking time.

    • And I think making it with uncooked oranges may be a bit risky – I would think it might be bitter? It you try it let me know ?

      • Seb says:

        Yes I thought it may be bitter I will give a try perhaps served with sweet vanilla ice cream on the side

  • I love the look of this… we always have plenty of oranges at my house and this sounds like a fabulous way to use them! I like how you describe the cake as dense and moist; sometimes I wonder if people will get the wrong idea when I use “dense” to describe a baked item, but I totally understand where you’re going with this and I love it! This is getting bookmarked for sure. 🙂

    • I love that you understand what I mean by “dense” in a cake (or even in bread etc). I am glad you like the recipe – you won’t be disappointed – and thank you for reading my blog ??

  • rachelocal says:

    Your recipes are always exactly what I’m in the mood for. And the mascarpone? Perfect.

  • Sally says:

    Hi Paola, this looks gorgeous, just want to check something with you before I make it. Including the oranges whole, with the skin, doesn’t make it bitter at all?

    • Hi Sally, no it isn’t a bitter cake though if you use blood oranges it is less sweet (but still not bitter). The boiling seems to remove the bitterness. Good luck with making it – I am sure it will be delightful ?

  • Sally says:

    Thanks Paola, I will let you know how I get on.

  • Hey Paola and Seb, I’ve made it without boiling the orange and it tastes great, not at all bitter, check out the recipe on my blog http://dolci-damira.blogspot.com.au/2010/10/amiras-flourless-whole-orange-cake.html

    • Really? It works, wow – yours looks just as perfect with uncooked oranges. The quantities are a bit different but I am quite amazed. I will have to try it. Thanks for popping by Amira. Much appreciated ?

      • You’re welcome, your blog is always interesting and inspiring, keep up the great work Paola, Regards, Amira – look forward to meeting you one day especially that we have a connection with a beautiful German girl !

        • Absolutely Amira – she will be back and hopefully we can meet on a day that I do not work. Thanks for your comments, these are what keeps me blogging happily! ?

  • silver price says:

    I never thought making a flourless orange cake was so easy until I came across this recipe. I tried Heleng’s advice boiling the oranges for 1 hour (I boiled mine for 45 minutes) without changing the water, and thr result is still good. Very moist and not overly sweet, but most of all, VERY MORE-ISH!

  • Sally Collins says:

    Hi Paola, made the orange cake last night. The kitchen smelt citrusy all night, it was lovely. My mum loves the cake! She was born and brought up in Egypt and prefers European cakes and desserts and thought this was delicious. I also made your ricotta cake a while back and she loved that so I feel like I’m giving her some of the flavours from her childhood.

    • Hi Sally, I am so glad it worked out well. I love that your mother loved it – it is so special when food brings back childhood memories. And the ricotta cake as well. Just perfect. Enjoy x

  • Wonderful blog! Grazie for all your beautiful recipes.

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