Sicilian Orange Cake

Sicilian Orange Cake-2I found this cake of Sicilian origin from The Guardian, when I was looking for an orange cake recipe. The original recipe was from Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escapes. This recipe was based on a traditional butter cake proportions, flavored with freshly-squeezed orange juice and its zest. Here, I had gone a little further by adding a splash of Grand Marnier which I believe it deepened the orange flavor in the cake.

Sicilian Orange Cake-3The recipe calls for self-raising flour which I don’t always keep stock for, so I made a substitution by mixing all-purpose flour and baking powder. It works perfect. I also upped the orange juice by a little, which contributed to a nicely moist crumb. When it comes to traditional butter cakes, I always prefer to use salted butter, a tip I learn from my dad, who bakes the best Hainanese butter cake in my world. You could use unsalted but I would recommend adding a touch more salt to the batter. It alleviates the taste of such dense butter cakes.

Sicilian Orange Cake-4The cake was good on the day it was baked but it was even better the next day when all the flavors meld together in harmony. If you like orange cakes, you have to make this NOW. If orange cake isn’t your favorite, still I think it’s worth a try. This is a good cake. Perfect with a cup of earl grey.

Sicilian Orange Cake-1

Sicilian orange cake

(Adapted from The Guardian)

Serves about 8

250g salted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
200g caster sugar (reduced)
4 medium eggs
1½ teaspoons finely grated orange zest
250g all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
120ml (about 1/2 cup) freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier, optional
3/4 teaspoon salt (if using unsalted butter)


For the icing:

125g icing sugar
5 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice



3″ by 11″ loaf pan
8″ round cake pan


  • Preheat the oven to 170C/gas mark 3. Grease and line a loaf pan or round cake pan with non-stick baking paper.
  • Sift together the flour and baking powder. Whisk in the salt if using unsalted butter. Set aside.
  • Using an electric whisk, cream the butter and sugar together for 4-5 minutes until very pale.
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each one, if necessary adding a spoonful of flour with the last egg to prevent the mixture from curdling. Beat in the orange zest.
  • Add the flour mixture all at once and mix in well, then slowly mix in the orange juice.
  • Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer, inserted into the centre of the cake, comes out clean. If it starts to brown too quickly, cover loosely with a sheet of lightly buttered foil.
  • Leave the cake, in its tin, to cool on a wire rack, then carefully remove from the tin and peel off the paper. Put it onto a serving plate.
  • Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and stir in the orange juice until you have a spreadable consistency. Spread it over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides, and leave to set.

Serve cut into slices.

Sicilian Orange Cake-5

Join the Conversation

  1. Hi Vanillyn
    I’d like to tell you that I tried your Sicilian Orange cake yesterday and finally it’s the texture I’ve been looking for a very long time. I think the AP flour with the
    3 tsp of baking powder makes the difference. I also mix by hand the flour in
    3 lots and then the o/juice in 3 lots pouring from the side of the bowl.
    The results, a perfectly moist cake to die for.
    Thank you sooooooo much.
    Just a question, how about baking a butter cake? Do I put milk or cream in place of the o/juice? Or do you have a good butter cake recipe?
    Hope to hear from you soon.

    1. vanillyn Author says:

      Hi Perl,
      I am so happy to hear that your cake is a success! I agree with you that this cake is to die for and perhaps your method of adding the flour and juice in 3s makes it even more sublime. I would try that next time. For butter cake, you can use this recipe and replace the OJ with milk and omit the orange zest and grand marnier if you add them. And you can add a little rum if you like.

      1. thanks for your prompt reply, much appreciated!
        brandy should be good too for butter cake.
        I made it again yesterday to make sure I can reproduce the same..yes I did it!
        God bless

  2. Laura Anna says:

    This is in the oven now; I am making it for a get-together tomorrow afternoon. I used an 8 inch tin pan. Is the batter supposed to come to the very top when you pour it from the bowl to the pan?

    Do I put the icing on tomorrow morning or is that done tonight?

    1. vanillyn Author says:

      Hi Laura, the batter should not come to the top as it might overflow in the oven. Fill it 3/4 full should be fine. If you do the icing in the night, just make sure you pour it over only when the cake has completely cooled. Otherwise the next morning is fine too.

      1. Laura Anna says:

        La torta was a hit at the get-together! This is definitely a keeper recipe! (I used one entire orange’s zest – too little is a tease.)

        1. vanillyn Author says:

          So glad to hear that Laura! I’m with you on more orange zest! 🙂

  3. Laura Anna says:

    Looks fabulous – can hardly wait to make this on Friday!

  4. Mmmm, delish!!! I made it 🙂

  5. I love a cake that improves with time! 😀

  6. it looks delish!

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