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Grandmamma's Orange Cake

I just made my Grandmother's cake for the 1,276th time yesterday and thought I would share this luscious and terrifically moist recipe with CH! This is one of those recipes that the more days that go by, the moister it gets. (make at least one day before serving if you can wait)

Orange Ring Cake

1 c. sugar
1 c. butter *
3 eggs
1 c. sour cream *
1 3/4 c. sifted flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
grated rind of one orange
(* please have these ingredients at room temperature)

Cream butter and sugar well. Add egg yolks, sour cream, and orange rind; beat until light and fluffy. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder into the first mixture. Beat egg whites until stiff, but not dry, and fold into the mixture.

Turn into a well greased and floured bundt pan; bake at 325 degrees for one hour. Remove from oven and let stand 15 minutes. Loosen carefully around edge and turn-out onto a rimmed plate. Deeply and repeatedly pierce the top of the cake with a very thin skewer (eg, like a wooden skewer used for chicken satay) and then spoon the hot orange sauce over the top of the cake slowly. (The hot orange sauce will "leak" from the cake, so make sure it is placed in a rimmed plate.)

Hot Orange Sauce

Juice of 2 oranges (a little less than 1 cup); Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 TBL); 3/4 c. of sugar; dash of salt

Combine ingredients; let sugar first dissolve over low heat, then bring to a rolling boil for 3 to 4 minutes.

(1 orange = 1/2 c. so, if you are in a pinch, 6 oz. of frozen orange concentrate could be substituted)

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  1. This looks very good...
    but a question...do you sift the flour once and then measure 1 3/4 cups, and then sift it a second time adding BP and BS???
    or just spoon out 1 3/4 cups of flour and then sift it once including BP and BS?

    Thanks for clarification....

    3 Replies
    1. re: ChowFun_derek

      Hey there! (BTW, Your dog in the photo is so precious!) What I do when baking is measure out the flour, BP, and BS, and then dump them all into my sifter and go to town.

      I promise... you will not be disappointed with this recipe! It is great in the summer when you can really enjoy all the fresh citrus, and it explodes in the winter when you are longing for summer!

      1. re: Tehama

        Thanks...that's my Chowhound Maya (a true 'pig in dogs clothing' (like father, like daughter!)

        1. re: Tehama

          This does look really good. You know actually though, citrus is in season in the winter not the summer, so it is even better then. It is one of the best things about winter for me.

      2. Wow! That sound really yummy! I'm thinking that I am going to HAVE to make this in the next couple of days. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

        1 Reply
        1. re: pie

          You are so welcome! I promise, you will not be disappointed. (I have to confess, more often than not I have used the OJ concentrate option for the sauce, and it is still divine. I try not to do shortcuts too often, but that one seems to be a good substitution)

        2. I think it's great that you have your grandmother's recipe. Treasure it and pass it on. My late grandmother made a wonderful spice cake and when she died we couldn't find her recipe anywhere..only to find out she didn't measure anything! She just made it from scratch and the recipe was in her head. Some of us (her grandchildren) try to make it but no one has perfected it yet.

          1. Isn't this the best? It was posted in the Boston Globe magazine a while back and I've made it a few times (I love it too much and eat too much to make it more often). In their version the sauce isn't heated but suggested to brush on the cake warm and to use the whole amount as it will absorb into the cake.

            1. Thanks, orange cake is my absolute favorite!! My poor mom had to make 2 cakes for my birthday when I was little as I always insisted on an orange cake for my special day, but most people didn't like it....I still make it for myself every birthday but now I will have to try this one! have you ever made it in 8/9 inch rounds as a "cake"? thanks

              1 Reply
              1. re: geminigirl

                Me too! I actually had forgotten how much I used to love orange cake (had it every birthday too!) until I tried this cake again. As far as the cake pan, this cake is very dense, like a pound cake so it probably would be okay in the round pan but wouldn't be a "light" cake.

              2. How do you think this would work with lemons? I just went to the store to get oranges, forgot they're out of season and the only ones were from south Africa. I got lemons instead, trying to decide if I should make this one lemony w/ candied lemon or Ina Garten's in the lemony cake thread. Either way, I'd use Ina's lemon simple syrup.

                1 Reply
                1. re: chowser

                  I bet lemons would be delicious - I think Ina says in her cake they are interchangeable, I know she says this about her lime curd tart as well.

                2. Hey Chowser and GeminiGirl: I like both of your suggestions and think they would be good alternatives! Please let me know how they turn out if you make them before I do.

                  Hey 4ChowPups! Well, that is cool a very similar recipe was published in the Boston Globe... and there I was just thinking that Grandmamma had made it up (she was the most amazing baker, so I would not have been surprised).

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Tehama

                    Hey Tehama, no telling where the Globe got the recipe from!!! ; )

                  2. I just tried this, though I hesitate to call this Grandmamma's orange ring cake since I made so many changes to it (kind of like those reviews on epicurious where people make a lot of changes and then wonder why it didn't turn out as well but this one did). I used yogurt instead of sour cream since it's what I had in the house. I used lemons instead (from USA instead of oranges from south Africa). From the lemony cake thread, I made candied lemons, chopped them and sprinkled them on top. I saved the simple syrup from boiling the lemons and used that for the orange sauce. It turned out really good, though. Thanks--and I'll make it in the winter the way the recipe says when oranges are in season.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: chowser

                      I made the cake this past weekend. What a great cake! I did make candied orange peel, then minced some up and added it to the batter, I cut the rest into slivers & added it to the syrup I poured over the top. Great flavor, very moist! Thanks for sharing it.

                    2. I baked your Grandmama's Orange Cake yesterday (well, last night at 1 am)... for a picnic today. Yes, it's luscious and moist and wonderful. The only change? I made cupcakes. It was perfect for today. :^) Thank you!

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: Cynsa

                        Yummm.... that sounds delish! Since you did cupcakes, did you put any additional icing or glaze on them? How many cupcakes did it make? What an awesome idea! I want to try this too.

                        Thanks to everyone who has responded. This really warms my heart, as I just lost my Grandmamma a few months ago. She is who taught me to cook, and this is really so special to read your comments.

                        (BTW, anyone ever heard of a "Queen of Sheba" cake? We made it several times when I was little, and I could not find it when I was looking through her things). I want to say it had lots of spices in it, and I think was a chocolate cake, but not a rich ooey-gooey type of chocolate, though)

                        1. re: Tehama

                          Your recipe made 17 cupcakes baked for 18 to 20 minutes until done...no frosting, it's wonderful with just the Hot Orange Sauce. Maybe a cardamom meringue or a vanilla buttercream or a ganache would be just frosting on the cake - why detract from its orangey wonderfulness? I'm a simple gal.
                          I'm baking them again on Tuesday— for Wednesday's Fourth of July celebration... can't even come close to your 1,276 times! :^) Thank you, again for sharing this with us!

                          1. re: Cynsa

                            The lemony one I made was also really good w/ vanilla ice cream on top. I'll bet the orange would be good, too--like a creamsicle.

                            1. re: chowser

                              Yes to the Creamsicle...hmmm-hmmm with vanilla ice cream. Yay!

                              1. re: Cynsa

                                I am going to make this tonight and am really looking forward to it!

                                I have one question...
                                I have another cake that I make (called Five Flavor cake) that also has a very similar sauce that you heat up and then you pierce the cake. The difference is that you pierce the bottom of the cake while it's still in the bundt pan and then pour the sauce over it. You leave the cake in the pan until it's cool and the sauce soaks into the cake (no "leaking" and lots of yummy moist goodness).

                                I wondered if anyone had tried this method? Or is it better to pour it over the cake after it comes out of the pan as described in the original recipe?

                                1. re: MaryDC

                                  I like your "inverse" idea. If you go that route, please post back and let me know if it gets moist all the way through. Hope you enjoy this cake as much as I do, as as my Grandmamma did. It gets better and better as the days pass.

                                  1. re: MaryDC

                                    Bump...just wondering how this method worked, it sounds like a great idea!!

                                    1. re: geminigirl

                                      I did try the "inverse" method (same as the one I use for the Five Flavor cake described above). I think it worked out really well although I didn't make the cake the other way so I can't compare the two methods. There was no "seepage" of the sauce, everything went into the cake. It was very flavorful and moist. It came out of the pan without any issues.

                                      For the 5 Flavor Cake, the directions state to pour the hot sauce over the cake right after it comes out of the oven (after poking holes in the cake). I did wait a few minutes before pouring the sauce on the Orange cake because I was busy doing a bunch of other things.

                                      Anyway - it came out great. Thanks again for the recipe!!!!!

                                      1. re: MaryDC

                                        Thanks for the feedback, I think I will try this next time I have a cake that does this - it's so smart and so obvious yet I never even thought about doing it that way... and I hate all the "sepage" waste from the other way!

                            2. re: Tehama

                              Yes! I just watched a DVD collection of Julia Child's "The French Chef" show and there was a segment on making Queen of Sheba Cake on Disc 3. I rented it from Netflix. Lots of recipes on that show came from Mastering the Art of French Cooking so it may well be in there.

                            3. re: Cynsa

                              Hey there! So, I made the Orange Cake into cupcakes for the first time yesterday. Flavor still amazing and wonderful, but the hot orange sauce made the bottom of the cupcakes extremely messy to eat (soaked the cupcake liners, oozed out, etc.). Any suggestions to improve that aspect? Everyone was crazy about the cupcakes, too --- I did a Malibu Rum buttercream frosting and man-oh-man were they tasty!

                            4. I made this cake for Thanksgiving and loved it. I only wish I had bought some fresh berries to serve with it. I poked holes in the bottom while in the pan and used about 1/3 of the glaze and then took the cake from the pan and poked and poured the remaining glaze on top. Thank you Tehama and Grandmamma.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                I'm making for Thanksgiving this year! (I'm so glad I posted this recipe to Chowhound because I needed the ingredient list for the market and I'm at the office and don't have my Grandmamma's written recipe handy!)

                              2. I am getting ready to do grandmammas orange cake for my family so i will let you know how it comes out. Can't wait!!!!!

                                1. I have been looking for a recipe very similiar to this one .... a quick question..I would like to make it a day ahead as suggested....should I wait to make the sauce to pour over just before I serve it , or do I also make the sauce a day ahead. I am wondering if it needs to absorb or would it be fresher prior to serving. Any suggestions would be apprieciated! THX

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Frappe

                                    I think the cake absorbs the sauce much better while it is hot. Another poster suggests poking holes in the cake while it is still in the pan and using 1/3 of the sauce. After it is turned out onto a plate, use the rest of the sauce. Sounds like a good idea to me.

                                  2. I made this cake for Chirstmas and it was a HIT! Tehama, thanks so much for posting it. Has been on my list for a while...it turned out perfect, only I boiled the sauce a tad too long. Everyone asked for the recipe! It does get better each day. Thanks again for sharing this---happy holidays.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: apple342

                                      Re earlier post, yes, I believe the Queen of Sheba cake (a chocolate cake) comes from Julia Child, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. A friend of mine used to make it.

                                        1. re: Hansel

                                          Hansel, thank you so much! Yes, my Grandmamma was a devotee of Julia -- I can't believe that I didn't remember that would have been the cookbook she would have been using when making the Queen of Sheba cake.

                                          II just pulled up this thread to get the ingredients for the Orange Cake. I woke up craving it this morning for some reason. Off to the market now; and maybe for ingredients for Queen of Sheba, too. :-)

                                          1. re: Tehama

                                            And here at Chez Clam we are very glad you woke up with that craving! The Chowpup owed Mr. Clam a cake and she made yours. It was her first time beating egg-whites and she was rather flabbergasted with their transformation. So, one down and 1275 to go. It was yummy!

                                      1. I made this for my grandparents anniversary. They always had orange groves and although my grandfather is in a nursing home, this brought him right back to us..
                                        thank you a million for this recipe. Food heals.
                                        Best wishes

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: Queen Bee Cheese

                                          QBC, welcome to Chowhound...food DOES heal...bless!

                                            1. re: buttertart

                                              We loved this even the gkids ate it and they are fussy when it comes to cakes!

                                            2. re: Queen Bee Cheese

                                              Thank you a million for your kind words! It warms my heart!

                                            3. Please! I would like to know one cup refers to how many grams? I was so much impressed on ur recipe. I wish to do as per your reply. Thank you

                                              2 Replies
                                                1. re: woodleyparkhound

                                                  Thank you so much woodley. so kind of you for the worderful informative site. Thank you once again.

                                              1. When I saw this old thread pop-up, I had to post.

                                                This is hands down, the single best recipe I have ever gotten from many years of lurking at Chowhound.

                                                This cake is amazingly good!

                                                The cake absolutely taste better after sitting for at least a full day - 2 days are even better.

                                                A helpful tip - when I make this, I place the cake on a wire rack above tin foli covered cardboard. Then I soak the cake with the sauce. The rack keeps the bottom of the cake from getting soggy and the foil wrapped cardboard can be tossed in the trash when done.

                                                Many, many thanks to Tehama for sharing this!


                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: HB_Jeff

                                                  Every time someone says something kind about this cake, it brings a tear to my eye. It was my Grandmother's signature cake and I miss her so much. I'm so glad everyone loves it as much as she did. Thank you.

                                                  1. re: Tehama

                                                    I love that this thread is almost 4 yrs old and people are still making and enjoying this cake! I fist made it in 2008 and it quickly became a favorite of ours. Thanks so much for sharing it.

                                                  1. question, with the grated rind, do you also mean the white pith as well?

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: Dapuma

                                                      Dapuma, I don't included pith and I sub the same amt. of Greek yogurt (2%) for the sour cream.
                                                      I juiced a combo of honeybell and tangerine for this recipe most recently.

                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                        ok so basically just zest one orange then?

                                                        Will that achieve the right result, not sure the difference between grated rind? Is that bigger pieces than zesting with a microplaner, as that is what i normally would do

                                                        1. re: Dapuma

                                                          Yes, zest one orange. As for the size of the pieces, I prefer nice thin shards so my question to you is, are the holes in your grater bigger or smaller than your microplaner? Whichever one produces a finer/smaller grate of zest, use that. :)

                                                      2. re: Dapuma

                                                        I make a sour cream orange pound cake that was a winner in a baking contest. It is almost identical (but twice the size). It calls for orange zest which I don't like so I substitute a few drops of orange oil. You have to be careful not to add more than a few drops. That is orange oil not artificial orange extract. Everyone loves this cake.

                                                        1. re: subrosa39

                                                          Oh! Neat variation! Sounds delish!

                                                      3. I must make this with Temple oranges while they're still in. Love Temples.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                          BT, Temples are also my most favorite orange in the world ever since childhood, season is too short! AND I have to make this cake...must.DO.it!!!

                                                          1. re: Val

                                                            They are so good! Totally love them. Only rival is a really good blood orange, but they're hard to find.

                                                        2. This may be an old thread, but I just found it and can't wait to try these as cupcakes (1/2 a recipe, since there's just 2 of us). Cut 5 dozen oranges from my itty bitty tree yesterday, so looking for orange recipes! Thanks, Grandmamma. :)

                                                          1. Oh this sounds delicious. Thanks for sharing... I think I'll try this out next weekend!

                                                            1. Thank you , thank you..company coming tonight and you saved the day. I am so grateful.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Emme1

                                                                Thank you, Emme! I hope you enjoy! My heart feels so blessed every time I read that someone has made this recipe; I miss my Grandmamma so much. Bon appétit!

                                                              2. Hey glad this post resurfaced. Sounds yummy. Will give it a whirl once this mini heatwave passes. To hot for baking now.

                                                                1. I have some oranges,jst need to get some sour cream and Iam going to try this one...can't wait...:)

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: shalinithebaker

                                                                    I hope you love and enjoy! Happy New Year!

                                                                  2. When I was growing up, my mother frequently made a lemon version of this recipe ... so good! Now that I am more or less grown up :), I make it myself. Tried it with lime juice a while ago -- also yummy.
                                                                    2 shortcuts my mom & I use:
                                                                    1) no need to poke the cake. Syrup will soak in just fine if added while cake is hot.
                                                                    2) just mix the syrup & pour over without boiling.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: almond tree

                                                                      Yum -- I do love citrus-based cakes. I can't wait to try your version with the tips & tricks! Many thanks!

                                                                    2. This sounds so good, that I am going to make it. Thank you for sharing.

                                                                      1. I should keep track of how many times I have made this cake. It is a family favorite and whenever a desert is needed for my friends it is always requested. I say a little prayer for your grandma every time I make it. Thank you for sharing the recipe and your great memories of her with me. Eileen

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Emme1

                                                                          aaaawwwww - I'm in tears! Thank you! Thank you!

                                                                        2. My niece made this cake and absolutely loved it.

                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                            yay! I'm so glad! It really is the best.

                                                                            1. re: Tehama

                                                                              Do you have anymore of Grandmamma's cake recipes?

                                                                              1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                I have a few of her cookbooks and they are so lovely because they include her handwritten alterations to many of the recipes... they are so fantastic. I also have a lot of handwritten recipes (like the one for the Orange Cake) that were probably kept in a Tupperware box or something like that. She loved aspics and individual lemon custards. I haven't worked up the courage to try her tomato aspic, though!

                                                                                You're so sweet to ask! Made my night!

                                                                                1. re: Tehama

                                                                                  Apparently aspics are making a comeback!

                                                                          2. I would like to make this for my mother's 91st birthday.

                                                                            Question: Is the flavor changed significantly with six ounces of OJ concentrate as opposed to eight ounces fresh OJ? I would much rather do the concentrate for convenience's sake.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: laredo

                                                                              If you read upthread the OP does make a comment indicating that she used the concentrate substitute successfully without significant difference. Good Luck!