Blood Orange Cakes

Blood+orange+cakeBlood oranges are on their way out, I know, but you can swap regular thin-skinned oranges to top these, which is what I used in the cake itself. You could leave the fancy slice off the top altogether and just make the cake. I just like the look of it, and the chewy-sweet baked slice winds up reminiscent of marmalade.

When it comes to blood oranges, their appeal (to me, anyway) is their bad-ass name and crazy purpleness, their brand luring me in far more than their flavour. I’ve never really been blown away by the taste of a blood orange, but they do look great when sliced thin and laid atop orange pound cake batter.

Don’t let the name pound cake scare you – this is actually much lighter than most, although they do retain that dense sandiness that makes them different than a plain old muffin. And this recipe makes lots. I did mine in some of those jumbo muffin tins that were around, thinking that half-filled they might turn out more like little cakes, which they kind of did. You can use regular muffin tins though, or loaf pans, or cake pans.. whatever you think. I totally trust your judgement.


Orange Cakes (Bloody or Not)

Recipe link


April 17, 2010

If you like, brush still-warm cakes with a glaze made with equal amounts orange (or lemon juice) and sugar, simmered until the sugar dissolves.

  • Makes: Makes about 1 1/2 dozen small cakes or 2 loaves.


1/2 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup canola oil

2 cup sugar

finely grated zest of an orange

5 large eggs

3/4 cup buttermilk or thin plain yogurt

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 blood orange, washed and sliced very thin

sugar, for sprinkling


1Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2In a large bowl, beat the butter, oil, sugar and orange zest for 2-3 minutes, until pale yellow and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

3Add about a third of the flour mixture, beating on low speed just until combined. Add half the buttermilk in the same manner, then another third of the flour, the rest of the buttermilk and the rest of the flour.

4Divide the batter between lined or greased muffin tins, filling them three-quarters full (or you could fill two 8”x4” loaf pans, and arrange a lineup of orange slices on top); top each with a slice of orange and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes for cupcakes or 50-60 minutes for loaves, until golden and tops are springy to the touch. Let cool for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes: Makes about 1 1/2 dozen small cakes or 2 loaves.

One Year Ago: Lower-fat Chocolate Chip Cookies


About Julie

19 comments on “Blood Orange Cakes

  1. Erica B.
    April 17, 2010 at 11:39 pm

    I could totally see making these as mini loaves and soaking the cakes with an orange simple syrup. But first I have a pile of new recipes to try from class today =)

  2. the other Al
    April 17, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    Your muffins look like the Poppy Flower seed pod. Blood oranges have always kind of freaked me out a little. They look like fresh wounds! Though I’m not squeamish, their colour is way too close to a deep gash.

  3. bellini valli
    April 18, 2010 at 6:17 am

    Blood oranges are a special treat we like to take advantage of when they are in season.

  4. A Canadian Foodie
    April 18, 2010 at 7:16 am

    And your garnish? Did you sugar the slices and just et them on top for the photo, or did yuo sugar them and then bake them on top of the muffins… or did you just bake them on top of the muffins? I would really appreciate knowing, Julie, as this is a particularly pretty presentation.

  5. Sharlene
    April 18, 2010 at 7:36 am

    The little slices of blood orange on top of the cakes look so pretty! Sadly I haven’t found blood oranges at my local market but I may try this out with the regular ones I do have.

  6. Jan (Family Bites)
    April 18, 2010 at 8:10 am

    These LOOK gorgeous. Simple yet elegant at the same time. You rock, Julie!

  7. JulieVR
    April 18, 2010 at 8:20 am

    Valerie – just like the recipe says – I topped each cake with a slice of orange and sprinkled them with sugar, then baked them. Slice the orange thin!

  8. lauren
    April 18, 2010 at 8:28 am

    I love how funky these look! Awesome! Orange pound cake always does it for me in the flavor department, too.

  9. Cherine
    April 18, 2010 at 10:45 am

    Beautiful and delicious!

  10. Erin M
    April 18, 2010 at 11:50 am

    Those look so cool! :)

  11. charm
    April 18, 2010 at 11:54 am

    They kinda look like eyeballs. These would be great for Halloween. Nice looking recipe – thanks!

  12. rea
    April 18, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    absorbed with bean and grains?

  13. rea
    April 18, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    oops. wrong thread.

  14. Jason
    April 19, 2010 at 9:41 am

    Is it just me or do those look disturbing

  15. Carolyn Jung
    April 19, 2010 at 10:09 am

    Knowing me, I’d eat the cake and save that chewy slice of blood orange for last. I love citrus in baked goods, and this is one inventive recipe.

  16. Wendy (The Local Cook)
    April 19, 2010 at 10:59 am

    those look kind of . . . naughty. I am enjoying your site!

    Congrats on being one of the 50 best mom food bloggers.

  17. Vivian
    April 19, 2010 at 11:36 am

    Too cool! I agree that in the pan they do resemble eyeballs qawking out in different directions, super for Halloween. Guess one would have to slice and candy the blood oranges when in season and freeze or dehydrate them for the following October? Very inventive post, Julie, thanks. I have some of the Moro oranges here but they have gone a bit hard so getting a thin slice wouldn’t be possible. I wonder if I could soak them in hot water…might that soften them enough to slice?

  18. Cory Lievers
    April 20, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    Those pics are awesome. Looks very yummy.

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