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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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathryn February 27, 2012 at 7:52 am

Ooh I saw your pic of this cake on twitter and it’s even more delicious than I could imagine. Love citrus at the moment.


Laurie Jesch-Kulseth @ Relishing It February 27, 2012 at 9:30 am

Everyday cakes rock my world…and so does the orange/walnut combination! Just lovely.


Marisa February 27, 2012 at 1:24 pm

You kill me every time with your cakes! Have I ever mentioned I have a bit of a cake obsession? And orange + walnut – now that is a marriage made in heaven. You know what would be really great too? Toasting the walnuts first – just love the depth of flavor and richness that adds to a nut.

I too am a citrus lover – particularly in desserts. I’m currently stressing about making my grandma her birthday cake and just can’t make up my mind between traditional lemon, lemon + raspberry, or blood orange???


Angharad February 27, 2012 at 2:54 pm

My vote would be lemon all the way – it simply cannot be beat :)
Oh and completely love the toasting nuts touch!


Marisa February 27, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Thanks for your vote of lemon! Was kind of leaning that way as it is her favorite – but was weighing that against trying to be clever! lol Simplicity always wins

Deanna February 27, 2012 at 2:46 pm

I love everyday cakes. I think they taste so much better than fancy cakes. Citrus season is definitely still going strong.


PolaM February 28, 2012 at 1:31 am

What a beautiful cake! It looks delicious!


Cooking on a Dime March 3, 2012 at 1:32 pm

This cake looks amazing and delicious!


Lesley MacMichael March 4, 2012 at 2:49 am

Sounds like a great combination – I love walnuts in cake.


glidingcalm March 4, 2012 at 3:42 pm

your pictures are beautiful!


Angharad March 4, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Thank you so much! They’re a huge work in progress so I really appreciate the kind comment.


holly March 5, 2012 at 1:55 pm

that cake is perfection.

and citrus! i just can’t get enough. a co-worker and i were just discussing how thirst-quenching, sweet and zingy the citrus is. you cannot go wrong!


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