Italian orange cake

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April 3, 2013 by Bloke In A Kitchen

Here’s a brilliant recipe for a light, spongey, moist, sunny, golden cake to usher in the first signs of Spring.  With the orange syrup topping, it’s quite similar to our traditional Lemon Drizzle cake, but more sophisticated in taste and texture.   It so happens that I’m eating another slice in between typing this, and I can’t put into words just how tasty it is.  You’re going to have to try it out for yourself!

I adapted this just very slightly from a recipe in Elisabeth Luard’s  ‘Saffron & Sunshine‘ cookbook, on which every page is filled with tempting ideas from all around the Mediterranean.  The original recipe called for polenta (for which I substituted semolina flour), and Seville Oranges, and as per her suggestion, used half orange/half lemon, as I didn’t have Seville ones available.

As you can see, my daughter liked licking off the lemon juice! (Well, I think so anyway!)




175g / 6oz self-raising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

50g / 2oz polenta flour or semolina

225g / 8oz caster sugar or granulated sugar

225ml / 8fl oz mild olive oil (you don’t want a strong-tasting, or extra virgin olive oil for this, it’ll over-power the cake)

4 medium free range eggs, beaten

2 Seville oranges, finely grated zest and juice.  (if you don’t have Seville oranges to hand, use a lemon and an orange instead – this cake really comes alive with a little acidity)


Juice of 2 sweet oranges

120g caster or granulated sugar


Preheat the oven to 170C / 325F / Gas Mark 3.  Lightly grease and line a round, sprung cake tin.  Brush the lining paper and sides of the tin with a little of the orange juice.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, and add the polenta/semolina flour and sugar.  Mix well.

Make a hollow in the bowl, and pour in the olive oil.  Add the beaten eggs, and stir well with a wooden spoon until you have a smooth mixture.

Add the orange/lemon zest and juice, and stir well.  The mixture should be light, and drop softly from the spoon.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, smooth out, and place on top of a large baking tray.


Bake for 60 minutes, or a little longer.  It should be well risen, shrunk from the sides and firm to the finger.

Let it rest and cool for 15 minutes, before gently transferring to a wire tray.

To make the orange syrup, boil the orange juice and sugar together until slightly reduced. Allow to cool, then prick the cake all over with a skewer or wooden toothpick, before brushing the syrup all over the surface and sides.

Give this a try – it’s another blinder!  Again, I got lots and lots of help from Amelie, my 4 year old daughter, and she loved helping out AND of course eating it.


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