orange-walnut cake

February 27, 2012

Citrus season just isn’t letting up and I’m so very grateful. I was in D.C. for a couple of days last week – an absolute whirlwind visit – and had the fortune to eat at Central on Penn. Avenue, a James Beard award winning restaurant that delighted me with the best chicken burger I’ve ever had. Lemon chicken (somehow the citrus was worked into the perfectly cooked thigh meat) and a crisp, flat disc of fried cheese sitting atop. It was glorious.

A weird segue to cake, I realise, but it’s just another example of how citrus-obsessed I am. I fear it’s becoming a problem.

As soon as I saw this cake on one of my favourite blogs, Lottie + Doof, I knew I had to make it. As Tim says, it’s not a show-stopper of a cake; instead it’s what you might call an “everyday” cake.

Perhaps not dessert material but the perfect thing for a sweet breakfast with a strong cup of coffee or cosied up with a cup of tea and a book.

I’ll give you fair warning now – the mixture will feel wet and heavy with all that juice and olive oil in there. But the final product will be a bright, bold citrus flavour, a subtle nuttiness and an incredibly moist cake.

Orange-Walnut Cake
adapted from Bon Appetit Desserts via Lottie + Doof


  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (I used Pomelo oranges)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • confectioner’s sugar, to dust (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch-diameter spring-form pan with olive oil (I use a pastry brush). Place parchment paper round in bottom of pan and grease paper.
  2. Grind walnuts in a food processor until finely ground but not powdery. Combine the ground walnuts, flour, and baking powder in a medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Beat the eggs in large bowl until frothy, about 2 minutes. (Your arm is going to hate you, stay with it.) Gradually add the sugar, beating until light, thick, and pale yellow, about 4 minutes. (Again, arm hatred.) Gradually add the walnut-flour mixture; then add the orange juice, orange zest, and olive oil, beating just until blended. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Place pan on rimmed baking sheet and bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, 50-60 minutes. Cool cake completely in pan on rack.
  4. Release pan sides. Carefully move cake onto platter. Sprinkle cake with confectioners sugar and serve.
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