This incredible gluten free orange pound cake will blow you away with its intense orange flavour and moist, soft, melt-in-the-mouth texture. It uses both plenty of orange zest and ¾ cup of orange juice – so there’s really no doubt that orange is the star of the show here. It’s also super easy to make and you couldn’t possibly guess that it’s gluten free.
I adore this cake. It’s moist and bright and buttery and simply bursting with orange flavour – and I just can’t get enough of it.
There is no doubt that the orange is the star of the show here. The recipe uses both orange zest AND orange juice – this way, you get both the intensely aromatic fragrance and flavour of the orange zest as well as the bright, slightly tart freshness of the juice.
The result is a perfectly balanced gluten free orange pound cake with the most amazing intense orange flavour. In fact, the recipe uses the zest of three whole oranges as well as ¾ cup (180ml) of orange juice! One thing’s for sure: we’re not skipming on the orange in this recipe. This isn’t a vanilla cake with a bit of orange zest added – oh no, this is a proper, in-your-face orange cake.
It’s also wonderfully moist, soft, rich and buttery. Every bite basically melts in your mouth. For all its simplicity, it’s really an incredibly luxurious dessert – especially when you add in the luscious orange icing on top.
The icing adds a small amount of extra moisture to the cake, but more importantly, it brings a deliciously refreshing tanginess that really takes the whole cake to the next level.
And it’s so easy to make! I do recommend using a stand or a hand mixer for this one, though you could even make it by hand using a balloon whisk (it’s just a bit of a workout to get the butter and sugar nicely pale and fluffy).
You also couldn’t possibly guess that it’s gluten free. And yes, I say that for the majority (if not all) of my gluten free recipes… but it’s 100% true. It’s just a very, very good cake that’s guaranteed to be a hit with everyone, regardless of whether or not they have to follow a gluten free diet.
And it’s so gorgeous!! I know that this is just a simple loaf cake, but just look at that stunning yellow-orange colour with little orange specks from the orange zest.
Before we get to the bits and bobs of making this amazing cake – if you like what you’re seeing, subscribe to my newsletter to keep up to date on the latest recipes and tips!
Note: the whole recipe, including the ingredient quantities, can be found at the bottom of this page – just scroll down to the bottom, or click the ‘Jump to Recipe’ button at the top of this post.
Top tips for the PERFECT gluten free orange pound cake
Use organic unwaxed oranges if possible
As this cake requires the zest of three whole oranges, it’s best to use organic unwaxed ones. Most oranges are treated with pesticides – which have been linked to health problems and also tend to give a rather unpleasant aftertaste to the zest. Using organic oranges that haven’t been waxed will give you the best, most intense, pure orange flavour.
The classic creaming method gives a lighter crumb
Unlike my gluten free lemon drizzle cake that’s made using the so-called “reverse creaming method”, this recipe follows the traditional creaming method, where you cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy, and then add the eggs, followed by the dry and liquid ingredients.
Here, this method gives a slightly fluffier cake with a higher rise. Basically, when you use this standard creaming method, the rise of the cake happens not only due to the raising agents present in the batter (in this case the baking powder), but also due to the extra air that you’ve incorporated into the batter with the whipping and creaming.
The almond flour helps to keep the gluten free orange pound cake extra moist
Because of its fat content, the almond flour gives a richer, moister mouthfeel and keeps gluten free cakes moist and soft for longer. You’ll see that I often use almond flour in my gluten free cakes – it’s an excellent trick for preventing them from being too dry.
However, if you are allergic to almonds, you can replace the almond flour with an equal weight of extra gluten free flour blend. Your cake might dry out a bit faster – but honestly, with how delicious it is, it never lasts very long anyway.
Make sure that your ingredients are at room temperature
The success of the standard creaming method relies on all the ingredients being at room temperature – that’s especially important for the butter and the eggs in this recipe.
If you forgot to take your butter out of the fridge beforehand, you can pop it into the microwave for a few seconds until soft. And if you forgot to bring your eggs to room temperature, you can put them into a bowl of warm water for 5-10 minutes before using them. Also, if you keep your oranges in the fridge or a cold pantry, make sure that the orange juice isn’t too cold when you add it into the batter.
The batter might split or curdle a bit – that’s OK
Even though this recipe follows the usual method of adding the liquid and the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar-egg mixture in alternating batches so as to maintain the emulsion as much as possible, your batter will still probably split and look slightly curdled. I’ve made this recipe a number of times, and the batter has split in about 90% of the cases. DON’T WORRY IF THAT HAPPENS.
You’ll be adding ¾ cup of orange juice into the batter – that’s a lot. Unlike milk (or similar), orange juice doesn’t contain any fat or proteins that would help to maintain the emulsion. What’s more, the acidic orange juice will start reacting with the baking powder even before the cake enters the oven and this will further contribute to the curdled look.
However, even if your batter looks slightly curdled or split, I promise you that your cake will still bake up beautifully, and it will end up with a perfectly soft, fluffy, melt-in-the-mouth crumb.
Make the icing thicker than you think is necessary
As you’ll see in the recipe below, the icing requires 1 cup (120g) of powdered sugar and just 6-7 teaspoons of orange juice. The final icing is therefore fairly thick, and you might be tempted to add more orange juice to loosen it up. Resist that temptation!
If you want to achieve the perfect amount of icing on top of your cake and also those lovely thick drips down the sides, your icings needs to be on the thicker side. Otherwise, it will all just pour down the sides of your cake and you’ll be left with a puddle of icing around the cake rather than on top of it.
More amazing simple gluten free cakes
If you need some more gluten free cake inspiration, you’re definitely in the right place! All of these cakes are simple to make and guaranteed to impress:
- The Best Gluten Free Lemon Drizzle Cake
- Gluten Free Triple Chocolate Loaf Cake
- Gluten Free Lamington Cake
- Easy Gluten Free Almond Cake
- Gluten Free Coffee Crumb Cake
- Gluten Free Coffee Cake with Cappuccino Frosting
- Lemon Blueberry Loaf Cake with Blueberry Glaze
And that covers just about everything you need to know in order to make THE BEST gluten free orange cake ever. As I’ve mentioned, there’s nothing super complicated or difficult here – just a simple cake that will blow you away with it incredible flavour and texture.
If you fancy adding some chocolate into the mix, you could even make a chocolate orange pound cake! Just add some dark chocolate chips into the batter and use a dark chocolate ganache instead of the icing. I bet it would be AMAZING… and it’s definitely going on my to-do list.
Above all, I really hope you’ll love this cake as much as I do.
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The Best Gluten Free Orange Pound Cake
Orange pound cake:
- 200 g (1 cup) caster/superfine or granulated sugar
- zest of 3 oranges (Ideally, use organic unwaxed oranges.)
- 170 g (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 4 US large/UK medium eggs, room temperature
- ½ tsp vanilla bean paste (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
- 240 g (2 cups) plain gluten free flour blend (I used Doves Farm Freee plain gluten free flour that doesn't have any xanthan gum added. You can also mix your own gluten free flour blend using this recipe. Note that for this homemade blend, 1 cup = 150g, so ideally use a digital food scale for best results.)
- 65 g (⅔ cup) almond flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp xanthan gum (Omit if your gluten free flour blend already contains xanthan gum.)
- ¼ tsp of salt
- 180 g (¾ cup) orange juice (freshly squeezed)
- 120 g (1 cup) powdered/icing sugar, sifted
- 6-7 tsp orange juice (freshly squeezed)
Orange pound cake:
- Adjust the oven rack to the middle position, pre-heat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC) and line a 2lb/900g loaf tin with parchment/baking paper. Tip: I used a loaf tin with the following dimensions: 8 ½ inches/21cm long, 4 ½ inches/11cm wide and 3 inches/7cm high.
- Add the sugar and orange zest to a bowl and use your fingertips to rub the zest into the sugar. This helps to release more essential oils from the zest.
- For the following steps, I recommend using either a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer fitted with the double beaters. You could also do it by hand, using a large balloon whisk, but you might not get the butter and sugar as fluffy as you would using a mixer.
- Cream the butter and sugar (with the added orange zest) together until pale and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition, until well combined.Tip: It's very important that your eggs are at room temperature and that you add them one at a time. This way, you'll maintain the emulsion of the butter as much as possible. If you forgot to take your eggs out of the fridge, place them in warm water for 5-10 minutes before using them.
- Add the vanilla and mix until combined.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the gluten free flour blend, almond flour, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt.
- Beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, alternately add the dry ingredients (in three batches) and the orange juice (in two batches) to the butter-sugar mixture, whisking well after each addition, until you get a fairly smooth cake batter with no flour clumps.Tip: This alternating way of adding dry and wet ingredients helps to maintain the emulsion of the butter in the cake batter as much as possible. When alternating dry and wet ingredients, make sure to end with the dry.Even with this method of adding the ingredients, your final batter might still look slightly split or curdled due to the large amount of acidic orange juice that you've added. Don't worry if that happens – you will still get a wonderfully soft, melt-in-the-mouth cake crumb in the end.
- Transfer the cake batter into the prepared loaf tin, smooth out the top, and bake in the pre-heated oven at 350ºF (180ºC) for about 1 hour - 1 hour 5 minutes or until risen, golden brown on top and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. The loaf should have a large crack running along the centre.Tip: If the cake starts browning too quickly or too much, cover it with aluminium foil (shiny side up) and continue baking until done.
- Allow to cool in the loaf tin for about 10 minutes, then transfer the cake out of the tin and onto a wire cooling to cool completely.
- Stir the powdered sugar and 6 tsp of orange juice together until you get a thick mixture with no clumps. If your icing is too thick, add an extra 1 tsp of juice. This should give you icing of the optimal consistency.Tip: You can add more orange juice to make it runnier, or more powdered sugar to make it thicker, as required. However, note that you should make the icing thicker than you might think is necessary, especially if you want to have a generous layer of icing on top of the cake, along with those lovely thick drips running down the sides.
- Drizzle the orange icing over the cooled cake, spreading it evenly across the top with the back of a spoon, and letting it drip down the sides.
- Allow the icing to set and dry out slightly (at least for 30 minutes at room temperature) before slicing and serving.
- The gluten free orange pound cake keeps well in a closed container in a cool dry place for about 3-4 days.