SMS: Whole Orange Poppyseed Cake

Whole Orange Poppyseed Cake

Citrus recipes and I go way back. The first thing I ever attempted to make solo was fresh lemonade for my Grandma and Papa. I was so proud of myself as I presented each of them with a full glass, and I watched eagerly with anticipation as they took their first sips. My grandmother smiled ear to ear and declared it the best she’d ever had, while my grandfather winced intensely, unable to hide his tastebud’s acute reaction. Apparently, I had forgotten a rather important ingredient (it’s hard to remember all TWO components of lemonade, you know)… the sugar! I didn’t have much more success a few years later when I tried making fresh squeezed orange juice on Mother’s Day, after presenting my mom with a beautiful antique-style juicer. After cutting, pressing, and praying over an entire bag of oranges, I emerged from the kitchen with a pathetic, measly 1/3 of a cup of juice to accompany her breakfast in bed. I later realized I had purchased the wrong kind of oranges, unsuitable for juicing- who knew such citrus fruit existed?


Despite my early citrus centered failures, I’ve had much better luck utilizing these fruits in my baking. A few months back my Mom returned from California with a bag full of the most vibrant, juicy lemons picked from a tree at my great aunt and uncle’s home in Encino. I did some recipe searching, and settled on Ina Garten’s lemon cake, a moist, bright, lightly glazed loaf that my family raved about and quickly devoured. And thanks to Melissa of the delightful blog, Lulu the Baker, I’ve now found it’s orange counterpart, Whole Orange Poppyseed Cake.


This exceptional cake employs a unique method of infusing citrus flavor. As the name implies, it’s not only the zest and juice of the fruit incorporated into the recipe, but literally the entire orange! It’s cut into segments and simply thrown into the food processor with some sugar, pulsed thoroughly, and broken down into the most aromatic orange-flecked mixture imaginable. With all the essential oils residing in the peel, every ounce of orange essence is incorporated into the batter, not just the flavor from a few teaspoons of zest. You would think that the white pith might add bitterness, but fortunately, this is far from the case. A lovely finishing touch of a citrus glaze adds a gorgeous sheen and sticky sweet-tart bite. I utilized the same technique I used with my lemon cake when applying the glaze- first, I poked the top all over with a toothpick, and then brushed on the glaze, allowing it to seep down into the cake, and enhancing the delicate crumb with tremendous moisture. The poppyseeds are an unexpected and fun mix-in, which pair just as well with orange as the more commonly matched lemon.


And bonus! Oranges just so happen to be packed with health benefits, especially in the often discarded peel. A great source of Vitamin C, oranges also contain phytonutrients with healing properties- the most powerful of which, Herperidin, is found in the peel and inner white pulp, has strong anti-inflammatory properties, and can reduce blood pressure and cholesterol. Because it’s found in the peel and pulp, rather than the liquid orange center, you usually miss out on these powerful health benefits. Not so with Whole Orange Poppyseed Cake! Each bite packs a punch of flavor and nutrition.


Incredibly fragrant, quick to pull together, and simple yet sophisticated, this cake is a lovely choice to serve guests and pairs well with coffee or tea. My dad’s review noted that it tastes as good as it looks and smells, a compliment I’ll take any day! A big thank you goes out to Melissa for selecting this fantastic SMS pick- definitely check out her adorable site, and give the recipe a try. Also, take a look at what the other SMS bakers cooked up this week by exploring the Sweet Melissa Sunday’s blogroll.

Joy Heart 2


19 responses

  1. I love the idea of poking holes in the cake before glazing. I just kept brushing on more and more layers of glaze, and still had to throw a lot of it out! Thanks for baking with me this week!

  2. Your cake looks great. I’m glad you have found another citrus recipe that’s a keeper. Your lemonade story made me laugh. Your grandma is such a sport. It probably wasn’t her first lemonade sans sugar :o)

    Although my cake didn’t turn out as I had hoped, I’m certainly intrigued by the use of the whole orange. Will have to experiment with that for sure.

  3. What a gorgeous cake Joy! I love that you poked holes in the cake before brushing on the glaze. I wish I’d thought of it 🙂 My favorite part of this cake was how amazing it made the house smell as it baked!

  4. Hi Joy, I saw your comment on my blog, and each preserve recipe is separate. If there are allergy issues, I think I substitute would be acceptable; I would check with Lorelei. I wish I had advice to offer on canning/preserving, but it will be my first time too! I wanted to try something new.


  5. Hey Joy, I love the glaze on your cake, it’s so wonderfully shiny! I’ll have to do the “poking holes” thing sometimes, that’s a great idea! And if you do decide to make mini loaves, I’d take my times with a grain of salt and start a few minutes less than the 27- my oven is a little bit possessed and never seems to cook at quite the right temperature (and ate my oven thermometer a few months ago, so now I’m really flying blind :-D). Thanks for all of the lovely comments the past several weeks, I promise I’ll try to stop by more frequently!

  6. Hi Joy,

    Being the beneficiary of many of your baked goods is truly incredible. (I say many as some are things I can’t taste due to food allergies… the blueberry cheese cake for instance). Each and every taste is a true delight. The orange and poppy seed cake is a great example. I must admit, that when you told me what you were making, and that it had a whole ground orange in it, I thought we would be in for a bitter cake. That couldn’t have been further from the reality of the cake. It was moist and tangy, with a wonderful flavor profile. It truly tasted as good as it looked, and filled the house with a wonderful aroma. I enjoyed every morsal. I am so glad you joined this baking group, as you have really awakened and broadened my pallet.

    With love and lots of thanks,

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