Orange Loaf Cake

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Unbelievably moist and bursting with fresh orange flavor, this delicious and simple orange loaf cake is made with olive oil and yogurt for a healthier and easy to make treat.

This orange layer cake makes an appearance at at least half of our family birthdays. Even my kids request it above chocolate!

We love it so much that I decided to make a lighter version in the form of this orange loaf cake, an everyday snack or dessert that we can enjoy anytime. I’m delighted to say that this version, baked in a simple loaf pan and made with heart-healthy olive oil and yogurt was a huge hit with all who tried it!

My original plan was to drizzle the orange loaf cake with a simple glaze – like with these mandarin orange muffins, for a little extra sweetness, but as I was testing the cake itself, sans glaze, I realized that no-one who tried it, including the kids, missed the glaze at all!

So my preferred way to serve it is with just a light dusting of icing sugar for looks. That said, I’ve included instructions for the optional glaze in the recipe card if you would like to add it.

An orange loaf cake on a serving board being sprinkled with icing sugar.

Why You’ll Love this Orange Loaf Cake Recipe

It’s versatile. We all need one dessert option that is a no-brainer. It should be simple, basic flavors that everyone would enjoy – and on various occasions! While I love making these mini brownies or a classic Quebec sugar pie on special occasions – sometimes a versatile and simple loaf cake is what we all really need!

It’s practically effortless. No need to bring out the mixer. Just gather your ingredients, grab a couple of bowls, and you’re ready to create a delicious orange loaf cake. The ease of this recipe means you can whip it up anytime the craving strikes or when unexpected guests arrive.

orange loaf cake placed on a dish

It’s melt-in-your-mouth moist. Thanks to the addition of Greek yogurt and olive oil, this orange loaf cake turns out incredibly moist and tender. The yogurt adds a luscious richness while keeping the crumb light and fluffy.

(BTW for a chocolate version, you must try this chocolate loaf cake, I can promise you that both are winners)!

Two slices of orange loaf cake on a small place with orange wedges and halves in the background.

Ingredient Notes

ingredients pictured and labelled for orange loaf cake

All-Purpose Flour

All-purpose flour provides structure and helps achieve the perfect crumb for this orange loaf cake. Use the spoon and sweep method to measure it correctly, or weigh it.

Yogurt

Choose plain yogurt, preferably Greek yogurt, to add moisture and a creamy richness to the cake. It keeps the cake incredibly tender and moist. You can definitely use regular full-fat plain yogurt instead of Greek yogurt, but since its moisture content is higher than that of Greek yogurt, I would reduce the orange juice by 1 tablespoon if you choose to use it.

Whichever you choose, Greek or regular, full-fat is best. Non-fat or low-fat yogurt is more watery and will throw of the liquid-to-dry-ingredient ratio which may leave you with a dense or gummy cake.

Orange Zest

The finely grated zest of an orange is where the magic happens. It infuses the orange loaf cake with bright and fragrant citrus notes.

Make sure you’re not picking any bruised oranges!!

Orange Juice

For an authentic burst of fresh orange flavor, use freshly squeezed orange juice, always. it really makes a difference!

Oil

The choice of oil is up to you. Use olive oil for a subtle fruity undertone, or opt for vegetable or canola oil for a more neutral flavor. The oil keeps the cake moist and ensures a tender crumb.

I also prefer to use to olive oil for its health benefits. It’s one of the ingredients that makes this a healthy orange cake.

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour an 8.5 x 4.5 inch loaf pan, ensuring all surfaces are well coated to prevent sticking.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. This includes the all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt.

whisking together the dry ingredients for orange loaf cake in a bowl

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the plain yogurt, granulated sugar, eggs, orange zest, freshly squeezed orange juice, and vanilla extract.

wet ingredients for the orange loaf cake in a bowl

4. Pour in the olive oil and stir until it is fully incorporated into the batter.

adding olive oil to the wet batter

5. Now gradually add the dry ingredients to the yogurt mixture. Stir gently with a spatula or wooden spoon until just combined. Be careful not to over-mix, as this can result in a dense cake.

adding the dry batter to the wet batter
orange loaf cake batter in a bowl

6. Transfer the batter into the prepared loaf pan, smoothing the top with a spatula for an even distribution.

orange loaf cake batter in a pan

7. Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for 50-55 minutes. Once baked, remove the pan from the oven and allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 20 minutes.

orange loaf cake on a cooling rack

8. Carefully transfer the cake from the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Before serving, dust the top of the cake with icing sugar, or drizzle with optional glaze below.

Optional glaze: to add a little extra sweetness to this cake, make a simple icing by combining 1 cup of icing sugar with 2-3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed orange juice. Stir until you reach a drizzling consistency and pour slowly over the cooled cake. Allow the icing to set before serving.

dusting the orange loaf cake with icing sugar

Tips and Tricks to Make the Perfect Orange Loaf Cake

Measure Ingredients Accurately: Baking is a science, and accurate measurements play a crucial role in the success of your orange loaf cake. Use proper measuring cups and spoons to ensure precise amounts of flour, sugar, and other ingredients.

Do Not Over-mix the Batter: When combining the wet and dry ingredients, mix gently until just fully combined. Over-mixing can lead to a dense and tough cake. The goal is to achieve a relatively smooth batter without overworking it. Some small lumps are ok.

Adjust Baking Time: Every oven is different, so keep an eye on your orange loaf cake as it bakes. Start checking for doneness around the 50-minute mark by inserting a toothpick into the center. If it comes out clean, the cake is ready. If not, continue baking for a few more minutes and check again.

Allow Sufficient Cooling Time: Once the cake is baked, it’s essential to let it fully cool. This allows the cake to set. Cooling in the pan for about 20 minutes before transferring to a wire rack helps retain moisture and maintain the cake’s structure.

picking up a slice of orange loaf cak

Storage Instructions

At Room Temperature: If you are going to finish the orange loaf cake within a day or two (like my family does), it can be stored at room temperature. Ensure the cake is completely cooled and place it in an airtight container or cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Keep it in a cool and dry area away from direct sunlight.

Refrigeration: If you want to keep the orange loaf cake for a longer period or if the weather is warm, you can refrigerate it to maintain its freshness. You can refrigerate it for up to 5 days.

Before serving, allow the cake to come to room temperature to restore its soft texture.

Freezing: Ensure the orange loaf cake has completely cooled before freezing. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and place it in a freezer-safe bag or container. Label the cake with the date for reference.

The cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, thaw the cake in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for a few hours. Allow it to come to room temperature before serving.

Note: Avoid freezing the orange loaf cake with any glaze or powdered sugar toppings. Add the glaze or dust with powdered sugar after thawing and just before serving to maintain its freshness and appearance.

What kind of oranges should I use for this orange loaf cake?

For the best results, use juicy and aromatic oranges such as navel oranges or Valencia oranges. You can also try blood oranges, mandarins or even another citrus like lemon or lime if you like!

Can I use bottled orange juice instead of freshly squeezed juice?

While fresh orange juice is recommended for optimal flavor, you can use bottled orange juice as a substitute if necessary. However, keep in mind that freshly squeezed juice will provide a more vibrant and natural orange taste.

Can I make this orange loaf cake gluten-free?

Yes, you can adapt the recipe to make it gluten-free by using a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper substitution ratios. Additionally, check the labels of all other ingredients to ensure they are also gluten-free.

Two thick slices of orange loaf cake on a plate.

Orange Loaf Cake

Unbelievably moist and bursting with fresh orange flavor, this simple orange loaf cake is made with olive oil and yogurt for a healthier, easy to make, treat.
5 from 10 votes
Print Pin Rate Save
Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 281kcal
Author: Ann Otis

Tools for This Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plain full-fat Greek yogurt *see note
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup olive oil or vegetable or canola oil
  • icing sugar for dusting

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350. Grease and flour an 8.5 x 4.5 inch loaf pan.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a large bowl, combine yogurt, sugar, eggs, orange zest, orange juice, and vanilla. Whisk in the olive oil.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the yogurt mixture and stir to combine. Do not over-mix.
  • Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake in the preheated oven for 50-55 minutes until the top is deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Let cool in the pan for about 20 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar if desired, or drizzle with optional glaze (see recipe notes).

Video

Notes

Optional glaze: to make a glaze to drizzle over the cake, whisk together 1 cup of icing sugar and 2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice. If the mixture is too thick, add a little more orange juice until you reach a drizzling consistency. Drizzle over the completely cooled cake. (note: nutrition information does not include optional glaze.)
Note: I prefer plain Greek yogurt in this cake, but have also used regular plain yogurt with success. Whether you use regular or Greek yogurt, opt for full-fat as opposed to nonfat or low-fat yogurt, which are much more watery and will throw off you liquid-to-dry-ingredient ratio.

Nutrition

Calories: 281kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 52mg | Sodium: 148mg | Potassium: 176mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 115IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 77mg | Iron: 1mg
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8 Comments

    1. Oh, that is frustrating! It could be any number of things, but the most common reasons would be underbaking (the toothpick test is the best way to make sure it is fully baked. The toothpick should come out clean). Another reason may be either too much or not enough flour. Weighing is the most foolproof method, but the “spoon and sweep” method works too. Spoon flour into the measuring cup and use the straight side of a butter knife to sweep the excess from the top (rather than scooping flour straight out of the bag). Another possibility is the yogurt used. Full-fat Greek yogurt works best, but regular full-fat plain yogurt works too. Low or non-fat yogurt are much more watery and will throw off your wet-to-dry-ingredient ratio. I’ve just added a note about this in the recipe card. I hope this is helpful! I’ve made this cake countless times and never had that issue, so I’m guessing it’s one of the above things!

  1. Hello Ann,

    Thank you for this delicious-looking recipe. I’m planning on making it tomorrow, (two loaves actually), to give away to family for the beginning of our holy month of Ramadan.

    Quick question – if I want to amp up the orange flavor even more, can I add orange extract along with the vanilla? Or will it be just one extract only?

    Thank you.

      1. 5 stars
        Hello Ann,

        So, I made three loaves of your beautiful cake today, one for myself and two to give as Ramadan gifts. When the cake was cool enough to slice, it was beautifully moist and since I used EVOO, its taste was divine! I think I might have over-mixed the batter, as mine had a lot of lumps. Rookie mistake, I should have sifted the dry ingredients into the wet ones. Mine didn’t turn out as golden and airy-looking as yours did, and I might need to play around with my oven a bit as it’s new. I’ll def give this recipe another chance. In the meantime, I’m enjoying another slice right now, with my chai. Thank you!

        1. Oh thank you so much for reporting back, I’m so happy you enjoyed it!! I don’t usually sift the dry ingredients, but I do whisk them vigorously before adding them to the wet ingredients, to get any lumps out, and make it airier and easier to incorporate. Sifting is never a bad idea and does an even better job. Oven temps do vary a lot, so I tend to rely on visual cues and the toothpick test for doneness 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve made this twice and every time it turns out perfect. My oven may be hotter so I only bake for 40 minutes. Will definitely be making it again. Great cake. I also made the orange syrup because my daughter likes things sweeter than most. It is also a nice addition.

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