Orange Pound Cake


Loaf of orange pound cake

Warning: Baking this cake will fill your kitchen with the irresistible smell of oranges.

Sliced pound cake

This is a slightly modified version of a recipe I saw recently in Saveur. It’s a buttery pound cake shot through with freshly grated orange zest and soaked with sweet orange syrup.

Next time, I’m going to monkey around with the recipe and try it with lemons. Oooh, or maybe blood oranges. Yeah.

Fresh orange zest

Be sure to pour the glaze over the cake when it’s still warm to help the cake absorb the syrup.

Close up of orange pound cake

A note on creaming butter and sugar together

This is an interesting recipe. Most pound cake recipes call for creaming the butter and sugar together before adding the dry ingredients. This incorporates air into the batter. And more air means a lighter, fluffier cake.

This recipe, however, tells you to use your stand mixer to whisk softened butter into the flour mixture—and THEN add the liquid ingredients.

I was really curious how it would work. The short answer? It was great.

Orange pound cake is addictive

What’s the difference between cake flour and regular flour?

This recipe calls for cake flour. You can substitute regular, all-purpose flour if you don’t have any on hand. Your cake will just be a little coarser in texture.

Cake flour is made from soft wheat, which has less protein and gluten than all-purpose flour, so it’ll produce a finer-textured cake.

I usually use regular old Softasilk from the grocery store. King Arthur Flour’s Queen Guinevere Cake Flour is great, too.

softasilk cake flour

Serve with a steaming cup of tea—or a glass or two of champagne.

A slice of orange pound cake

Orange Pound Cake

Adapted from Saveur

13 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened to room temp + more for greasing the pan
3 Tbsp. milk
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. grated orange zest (1 large orange should be enough)

1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbls. triple sec, or other orange liqueur

Yields 1 loaf

Before you start

  • Be sure to leave the butter out on the counter for maybe 20 minutes to soften up.
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • Generously butter a 1-lb. (which is standard) glass loaf pan and set it aside.

Butter your baking dish well

Zest the orange

Grab your orange.

One whole orange

Scrape off the zest with a microplane or the smallest holes on a regular cheese grater. Just scrape off the top, orange layer. Avoid the white layer beneath, which is bitter as can be. I usually zest fruit over a piece of wax paper or parchment paper. Makes it easy to corral it all when you need to measure.

Zest the orange peel

Combine the eggs and milk

Put the eggs, milk, and vanilla in a bowl.

Beat the milk eggs and vanilla together

Whisk together. Set it aside while you deal with the dry ingredients.

Beaten egg mixture

Make the cake batter

Put the flour, sugar, and baking powder in the bowl of your stand mixer. Give them a stir to combine with your whisk attachment, then attach the whole business to your stand mixer.

Mix the flour sugar and baking powder together

Toss in the orange zest. Turn your mixer on low and mix until the zest is incorporated.

Orange zest and flour mixture

Cut the butter into tablespoons. (If you’re outside the U.S. and don’t get your butter by the stick, just cut it into 13 even pieces.) Turn your mixer on low. Toss in one piece of butter. Mix until it’s completely incorporated.

Add the butter one piece at a time

Repeat until you’ve added all the butter. As you work the butter into the flour, the mixture will start to resemble little crumbs.

Whisk to incorporate the butter into the flour

The mixture will resemble little crumbs

When you’ve added all the butter, your bowl should look about like this:

Butter and flour mixture

With the mixer running on low, slowly pour in the egg/milk mixture.

Pour the egg and milk into the flour mixture

Mix until you’ve added it all and the batter *just* comes together. When it looks like this, stop. (No really, stop.) It will be a little mealy looking. That’s just fine. Don’t overmix it. (Basically, the minute you get flour wet and mix it, it starts to develop gluten, which can make your cake tough.)

Beat quickly to combine

Bake the pound cake

Pour the batter out into your prepared pan.

Pour the batter into the greased pan

Give it a few swipes with a rubber spatula or a clean finger to even out the surface.

Smooth down the surface of the batter

Pop the pan into your preheated, 350-degree oven. Bake for 55 – 60 minutes.

Pound cake baking in the oven

Start checking it after maybe 30 minutes. If the top and/or edges look like they’re browning too fast, slip a piece of aluminum foil over the pan loosely, like this:

Cover the cake with foil if the top starts to burn

Tips for knowing when the cake is done

When it’s done, the cake will be golden brown on top. When you press on it lightly with a finger, the cake will spring back (not stay indented). And, when you insert a toothpick in the middle, it should come out clean.

Pound cake hot out of the oven

When the cake is done, cool it in the pan for a few minutes. While it’s cooling, make the glaze.

Make the orange glaze

Put the sugar, orange juice, and orange liqueur in a heavy-bottomed, 1-quart pot.

Pour the orange juice into the sugar

Set the pot on the stove over medium-high heat. Whisk until the sugar dissolves.

Whisk the orange juice and sugar together over medium heat

Bring the mixture up to a boil, whisking often. Keep a close eye on it. A 1-quart pot is a short little thing, and this mixture likes to boil over if left unattended.

Bring the glaze to a boil

Boil the mixture until it’s reduced by about half. It should be thick and syrupy.

Reduced orange glaze

Set the glaze aside for a minute while you liberate your cake from its pan.

Remove the cake from the pan

Put a few paper towels on the counter. Set a rack on top of them.

After 5-10 minutes, run a butter knife in between the cake and the pan to loosen the sides. Flip the pan over and gently shake the pan a few times to release the cake. Set it gently on the rack. (Be careful, it can crack if you’re too rough with it.)

Turn the cake out onto a rack to cool

Mmmm, warm cake…

Top of pound cake

Poke holes in the cake with a skewer

Grab a wooden skewer. (Or a metal one, or a cake tester, or anything that resembles a long toothpick.)

Use a skewer to poke holes in the cake

Poke holes all over the top of your cake. (Insert the skewer about 3/4 of the way through the cake.)

Poke holes in the pound cake

These holes will let the glaze sink into the cake, so make a lot of them.

Poke a lot of holes in the top of the pound cake

Now, Saveur recommends brushing the top of the cake with a few layers of the glaze. For the life of me, I couldn’t find my brushes (no, not any of them), so I just poured the glaze over the warm cake and kind of brushed it around with my very clean paw. (Check first to be sure it’s cool enough to handle.)

Pour the glaze over the warm cake

It worked just fine. Just pour slowly, spreading it around with your hand as you go.

Glazed orange pound cake

Cool the cake to room temperature before slicing.

Sliced orange pound cake

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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie serves as an Associate Creative Director at PARTNERS+simons, a boutique ad agency in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.


    • Really? You call that a delicious cake? man, it was absolutely scrumptious. I just made it and the aroma wafting through my house was fantastic. This was so moist and fluffy and really, the best pound cake i have ever tasted by far. Your instructions were easy to follow and as they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Folks it looks great in the photo but just wait till you taste it.

  1. How big of a difference does using cake flour make? I know the cake will have a softer crumb, but I feel like my heathen tongue is incapable of making that distinction.

  2. I cannot wait to try this, Jessie!!! I love citrus and you don’t see orange used in baking very often. I have a lemon quick bread recipe that I also make in orange at Christmas. Pound cakes were the second thing I learned to bake as a preteen (pie/pie crust being the first.) I’m thinking your recipe for candied orange peel would be fabulous with this! *hugs*

  3. Absolutely Amazing! I am baking this right now (today is National Pound Cake Day!) and my house smells delightful. I can’t wait to nosh on some after dinner with a nice cup of tea.

  4. Jess, this cake is so lovely and elegant! Im dying to make it. Ohh and did I mention, Im a citrus freak??!! Thanks so much! xo

  5. This looks INCREDIBLE. This is exaclty the type of cakes I love to make. Especially for gifts for people. Seriously putting this at the top of my list for this weekend to make. Soo summery and refreshing!

  6. I made this about an hour ago, and it came out perfectly! Tastes like heaven. I’m never ever going back to my old recipe, which doesn’t even come close. Thank you from a teen chef(: <3

  7. I’m trying to stay off of sugar but I HAVE got to make this cake. What do you think about using xylitol instead of sugar? M.

  8. I went to make this and found I was out of oranges. I used one regular lemon and two meyer lemons. It was pretty good, a little tart. The pound cake was good. Does anyone have any tricks to get a flatter cake? Mine rose quite a bit in the middle.