This one started how a lot of my recipes have started over the years. Something I bought at the store was going to go bad soon and I didn’t want it to go to waste. I had 3 blood oranges that were in danger of turning soon if I didn’t so something with them. I had intentions of making fun blood- orange shake- ups as a special treat for the kids at lunch that day but because homeschool ran long that morning, it didn’t happen.
If you don’t know what an orange shake-up is, it’s a special treat that we get at the local fair every year that consists of squeezing orange or lemon juice into a cup with sugar, ice, and water, and shaking it up until the sugar dissolves and it becomes the most sweet and citrusy treat perfect for cooling a person down on a hot Indiana summer day.
So back to the thought process behind this recipe. I had seen recipes for “whole lemon lemonade” and had a fleeting thought about making a “whole orange orange juice” but that idea quickly faded. An ice cold beverage just doesn’t sound the same in the middle of a snowstorm. Then I had another thought. I’ve been on a
stress winter baking kick recently and I wondered if maybe I could use, not just the juice, but whole oranges in a cake.
I really had no plan other than to pulse the oranges in a food processor, add gluten free flour, some leavening, a fat, and sugar and see where we got. The first test came out delicious but the texture was wrong. We still enjoyed the flavor, and I knew after mixing some of the blood orange juice with powdered sugar to make the glaze and seeing the gorgeous pink color that came out as a result, I was not going to let this one go. I ordered more blood oranges in my next grocery pickup and got back to the drawing board. After 4 tests, I finally had the result I was looking for!
Don’t let the length of recipe intimidate you. I wanted to be as thorough and meticulous as possible in my explanations because this can be a touchy cake, and although I would qualify this as an intermediate to advanced recipe, anyone can do this. If you know a few baking basics and you can read a recipe, you can make this cake! It’s a perfect weekend baking project.
I especially love how bright and sunny the bold flavor of citrus tastes in this cake for winter, and it’s perfect for having a slice by the fire with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate on a lazy weekend.
Whole Blood Orange Cake (gluten-free!)
- 3 blood oranges
- 1/2 cup plain/unsweetened greek yogurt (2% or above)
- 3 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cup gluten free flour (I always use Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Baking Flour)
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons blood orange juice
- Preheat oven 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, zest two of the oranges.
- Cut off the ends of the two oranges, then quarter, place into a food processor and pulse until it’s a puree. Set aside.
- In the bowl with the orange zest, measure 1/2 cup greek yogurt, 3/4 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla, and 2/3 cup of the orange puree.
- In another medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cup gluten free flour, 1 cup almond flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1 teaspoon baking soda.
- Separate the 3 eggs placing the whites in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment (or use a bowl and a handheld mixer). Place the yolks in the bowl with the orange puree mixture and set aside for now.
- In the stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or with a handheld mixer, whip the egg whites streaming in 1/4 cup sugar as the whites become foamy. Whip until soft peaks form. Set the whipped egg whites aside.
- Whisk the egg yolk/orange mixture vigorously for one minute.
- Whisk the flour mixture half at a time into the orange puree mixture incorporating very well after each addition. There is no fear of overmixing here as there is no gluten to develop. The more whisking the better in this case.
- Into the orange puree mixture, using a rubber spatula, fold in* egg whites in two additions. See notes for how to fold in.
- Spray a Bundt pan well with nonstick spray.
- Pour the batter into the Bundt pan and bake for 40-43 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cake in the tin for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, carefully run a knife along the edges and around the center circle. Place a cake stand or plate on top of the cake, then using both hands, flip over in one motion and remove the cake tin from the top. You may need to use hot pads or a towel if the pan is still hot.
- Prepare the glaze and glaze the cake only when it has completely cooled. See below for optional decorating tip.
Make the pink orange glaze:
Measure 2 cups powdered sugar into a bowl, cut the third orange in half, and whisk 2 Tablespoons of blood orange juice into the powdered sugar until it’s smooth. Add more juice 1 teaspoon at a time if it’s too thick. It needs to be a pourable consistency, but not so thin as to run off the cake altogether.
*How to fold in: Taste of Home article on why to fold in and how to with step by step instructions.
Optional Decorating: slice 5 very thin slices from the third orange (the one used for the glaze) and set aside to place on top of the cake after baking and before or after glazing (artistic choice 😉 ).
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