Made with freshly squeezed orange juice, this tender orange pound cake is nothing but moist, citrusy, and packed with flavor. Topped with sliver of almonds and a citrusy orange glaze, a slice of this orange cake is the ultimate citrusy treat.
Why I love this orange pound cake recipe
The classic pound cake recipe contains a pound each of butter, flour, sugar, and eggs. It also usually requires no leavening agent making it very dense. Pound cake is known for its rich and buttery flavor and is therefore usually served with a lighter glaze or topping.
This orange pound cake is a little different than the one your grandma used to make. It still has that buttery pound cake flavor and soft texture, but is made without all of the heaviness.
I consider this cake a citrus-lover's dream with bold orange flavors throughout. The cake itself has a delicious orange flavor with specks of orange zest sprinkled throughout.
The toppings are what take it to the next level though. The slivered almonds add a little crunch and nuttiness to the cake and it's finished with an easy orange glaze that seeps into every little crevasse on top.
Best of all, this is a no-fuss recipe. It's all made in one bowl with just a few simple ingredients. You can also make it gluten free and dairy free with a few substitutions.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Butter - Make sure to use unsalted butter and that yours is soft and at room temperature. You should be able to press your thumb into it and it leaves an indention. Substitute with vegan butter to make this dairy free.
- Orange juice - Fresh orange juice is what you need to make the best orange pound cake. You will need 2 large oranges for this recipe.
- Flour - These photos are taken with all purpose flour. See below on how to make this recipe gluten free.
- Sugar - The white granulated sugar is beaten into the butter to create those lovely air pockets commonly found in pound cake.
- Eggs - These help to ensure a super moist cake and helps it rise in the oven. Make sure your eggs are at room temperature. If needed, soak them in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes.
- Almond extract - This is the key to this orange pound cake. The almond extract really compliments the sweet orange flavor. You can substitute with vanilla extract if you need to.
- Orange zest - A little is sprinkled in the cake batter and in the orange glaze. Freshly grated orange zest can pack a flavor punch and a little goes a long way.
- Confectioners’ sugar - Used in the glaze. Make sure to sift it first or break up any large clumps with a fork before mixing it.
How to make this recipe gluten free
You can swap the all purpose flour with gluten free 1:1 flour to make this orange pound cake gluten free. I recommend King Arthur's gluten free flour or Bob's Red Mill.
A combination of almond flour and tapioca flour will also work, Substitute the all purpose flour with 1 cup of almond flour plus ½ cup tapioca flour.
How to make orange cake
This recipe is super simple. You will need a large bowl and a hand or stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
Step 1 : Beat the butter
First, cream butter with the orange zest in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed until creamy. This is done to add the strong citrus flavor into the butter so the flavor is consistent throughout the cake.
Step 2 : Add the sugar and wet ingredients
Add the sugar, eggs, orange juice, and almond extract to the bowl and mix well until the egg yolks are fully broken up into the batter. The batter will be thin and runny with little clumps of butter.
Step 3 : Fold in the dry ingredients
Next add the flour, baking soda, and baking powder to the bowl and fold the flour mixture into the batter gently. Be sure not to over mix this step and only mix until no flour clumps remain.
Step 4 : Bake in the oven
Pour batter into an 8-inch loaf pan lined with parchment paper for easy removal. Sprinkle a handful of slivered almonds on top. Don't pile them on top of the batter, you just want an even layer of almonds.
Bake the loaf in the oven until the sides turn a darker brown color and begin to pull away from the sides. You can check to see if the cake is done by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. If there is some wet batter on the toothpick then it needs a few more minutes in the oven.
Allow the loaf to cool down lightly before removing it from the pan. Let it cool on a wire rack while you make the glaze.
Step 5 : Prepare the glaze
In a small bowl, mix together the powdered sugar, orange juice, and orange zest until it's thick and smooth. The glaze should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon but thin enough to run off the spoon if you hold it upside down.
Make sure the whole cake is cooled down before adding the glaze. It's okay if it's slightly warm but if it's too hot the glaze will melt into the cake and create a mess. Pour glaze over top of the pound cake and allow it to seep into the little cracks in the almonds.
Use a sharp knife to cut the cake into slices about an inch thick for a bigger piece and half an inch for a smaller piece. Wipe the knife off after each cut to ensure clean slices of cake each time.
Serve on a plate with a fork and some extra orange slices on the side if you want. Because this cake has an orange glaze, it can be a little messy to eat with your hands.
Allow the orange pound cake to cool completely before storing. Try to keep the loaf un-sliced if you can. It will maintain its moisture and softness when un-sliced. Place the loaf in an airtight container and store out on the counter where it will keep for up to 5 days.
Frequently asked questions
Pound cakes got its name for using a pound each of butter, sugar, flour, and eggs. Therefore they are very rich and dense. Butter cakes tend to be much lighter.
Yes, pound cake should have a moist buttery texture to it while also being dense. If it is over-baked, it can become dry.
Yes, swap the all purpose flour for gluten free 1:1 flour or use 1 cup of almond flour plus ½ cup tapioca flour.
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Citrusy Almond Orange Pound Cake
For the cake
- ¾ cup butter - room temperature
- 1 Tbsp orange zest - approx. 1 large orange
- ¾ cup sugar
- 3 eggs - room temperature
- ⅔ cup orange juice - uss freshly squeezed if you can (approx. 2 large oranges)
- 2 tsp almond extract
- 1 ½ cup flour - substitute with gluten free 1:1 flour or use 1 cup almond flour plus ½ cup tapioca flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ⅓ cup slivered almonds
- ⅓ cup powdered sugar
- 1 Tbsp orange juice
- 1 tsp orange zest
- Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, cream the butter and orange zest together until light and creamy. This infuses the butter with the orange flavor so it’s evenly distributed into the cake.
- Add the sugar, eggs, orange juice, and almond extract to the bowl and mix well to incorporate. The batter will be thin with little clumps of butter.
- Slowly add the flour, baking powder, and baking soda to the bowl and fold into the batter. Make sure not to over mix the batter in this step and only mix until no flour clumps remain.
- Pour the batter into an 8-inch loaf pan lined with parchment paper and greased with oil. Sprinkle the slivered almonds on too into an even layer, not piled on top, and bake in the oven for 35 - 45 minutes until the sides turn a golden brown and begin to pull away from the pan.
- Allow the cake the cool slightly before transferring it to a wire rack to cool further. While the cake is cooling, prepare the glaze in a separate small bowl by mixing together the powdered sugar, orange juice, and orange zest until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon but still runs off the spoon when you flip it upside down.
- Once the cake has cooled (it’s okay if it’s slightly warm, you just don’t want it hot or the glaze will make a mess) drizzle the glaze over top allowing it to seep into the cracks of the almonds.
- Slice the cake with a sharp knife, wiping it clean after each slice, and enjoy.