Sicilian cuisine is renowned for its vibrant flavors and innovative use of ingredients, and the Sicilian Whole Orange Cake, also known as pan d’arancio is a perfect example of this culinary prowess. This delightful dessert captures the essence of Sicily in every slice, boasting a unique preparation method that utilizes the entire orange to create a moist and flavorful cake.

Sicilian whole orange cake over parchment paper, sliced.

What Is A Whole Orange Cake

It is a traditional Sicilian dessert incorporating the entire orange, including the peel, into the cake batter. This ingenious technique eliminates food waste and infuses the cake with a bold citrus flavor that differentiates it from other desserts. More so, the white pith of the orange (the white part) dissolves in water, which means that during the baking process, it changes its phase from solid to liquid and, as a result, provides an extra layer of moisture to the cake.

This is not a typical American cake; the orange lends a natural sweetness and moisture, resulting in a delightful balance of tangy and sweet notes in every bite. Initially, this cake used Blood Orange juicy oranges, but you can use your favorite fresh oranges.

For more Italian-style cake recipes, check out this Italian Hangover Cake, this Ciambellone, and this Torta Paradiso.

What Does The Cake Taste Like

This Sicilian cake offers a symphony of flavors that dance on your taste buds with each mouthful. The prominent, strong citrus notes from the orange peel give the cake a refreshing zestiness. At the same time, the natural sweetness of the fruit adds depth and earthy complexity to the overall flavor profile. This is a tender and moist orange cake with a delicate crumb that melts in your mouth. It’s a delightful treat for citrus lovers and dessert enthusiasts alike.


  • Seedless whole orange cut into 1/2-inch small pieces. Be picky and go for an orange with a thin skin. To be exact, the pith should not be over 3mm. I used fresh Navel oranges, but Valencia oranges are the better option.
  • Granulates sugar. The relatively large amount of sugar is crucial for this recipe. Firstly, because it balances the bitter pith flavor; secondly, as the pith dissolves during baking, the sugar will absorb the extra moisture and prevent it from evaporating. 
  • Olive oil. You can also use unflavored vegetable oil, but orange and olive oil make for a fantastic flavor combination.
  • Large eggs at room temperature.
  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Cardamom, or nutmeg, optional. The orange flavor is intense; adding a pinch of spice might balance the strong flavor.
  • Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
Ingredients to make an Italian citrus cake.

How to Make A Sicilian Whole Orange Cake

  1. Place the orange pieces and sugar in a food processor bowl and process until smooth. This can take up to one minute.
  2. Mix in the olive oil.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, and process until smooth.
  4. Mix the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, cardamom, or nutmeg. Add the flour mixture to the orange mixture and pulse three times.
  5. Pour the batter into a nine-inch pan lined with parchment paper and bake.
Steps to make a Sicilian citrus cake in a food processor.
Sicilian cake mixture in a pan and a napkin next to it.

Tips and Serving Ideas

  • The orange quality will determine the flavor of the cake, so taste the orange before you bake it. We want the main component to be orange juice; it should be juicy, sweet, and seedless. 
  • For added texture and flavor, sprinkle some slivered almonds on the top of the cake before baking. Mix 1/3 cup (30g) of almond flour with the dry ingredients. 
  • A springform pan is helpful but not necessary for this Italian orange cake.
  • Top the cake with orange slices or candied oranges for a visual appeal. Or, drizzle with an orange glaze made with one cup of powdered sugar, one teaspoon of orange zest, and fresh orange juice (3-4 tablespoons).
  • Serve this moist Cake with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a decadent treat.
  • This cake pairs beautifully with freshly brewed espresso or sweet dessert wine.
  • To make a gluten-free version of this cake, substitute the all-purpose flour with 1:1 gluten-free flour.

Storing, Freezing, and Making A Head of Time

I recommend baking this Sicilian orange cake the day before since it gets better the next day. Store leftovers covered or in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days to keep it fresh. To freeze, gently wrap the cake with plastic wrap, place it in a plastic bag, and freeze for up to six weeks. When ready, unwrap it and allow it to defrost at room temperature.


Is this cake bitter?

No. Because I chose the orange very carefully, I made sure it had a thin layer of white pith, and I tasted it to make sure it was juicy and sweet. If you are unsure and want to eliminate the risk, bring the orange to a boil and cook for 4-5 minutes. Rinse and repeat this twice more. Allow the orange to cool before proceeding. 

Do I Have to use a Food Processor to Make this Orange Cake?

You can process the orange and sugar in a blender and then continue with a large bowl. 

Can I bake the cake mixture in a bundt pan?

Yes. Ten or twelve-cup bundt pan is an option. The baking time might vary, so pay attention to the cake, not the time. The cake is ready when a cake tester comes out with a few moist crumbs (if it’s dry, it’s also ok).

Can I use other types of citrus fruit in this recipe?

 While oranges are traditional in Sicilian Orange Cake, you can experiment with other citrus fruits, such as lemons or mandarins, for a different flavor profile.

What are the best oranges for this cake? 

Any juicy, fresh orange you enjoy eating as a snack and has a thin skin. 

A piece of cake, over a plate with a fork.

More Orange Desserts You Might Enjoy

Orange Cream Cheese Cake, Orange Chocolate Cake

If you enjoyed this post, please leave a five-star review below the recipe. Don’t forget to tag @OneSarcasticBaker on Instagram whenever you bake this recipe. I would love to see your creations!

Sicilian Whole Orange Cake Recipe

Tender, moist cake made with a whole orange.

Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 9 inch pan
Author Dikla


  • 1 Seedless orange cut into 1/2-inch pieces (100g)
  • 1 1/2 Cups Sugar (300g)
  • 3/4 Cup Olive oil (180ml)
  • 3 Large Eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 Cup All-purpose flour (150g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons Baking powder
  • Powdered sugar for dusting the cake optional


  1. Preheat oven to 350F (180C) and grease the bottom of a nine-inch pan and line it with parchment paper.

  2. Place the orange pieces and sugar in a food processor bowl and process until smooth, about one minute.

  3. Add the olive oil and process.

  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, and process until smooth.

  5. Mix the flour, cardamom, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Add it to the orange mixture and pulse 3 times.

  6. Pour the batter into the greased pan and bake on the medium rack shelf for 45-50 minutes. Or until a toothpick comes out from the center of the cake with a few moist crumbs.

Recipe Notes

  • Make sure all of the ingredients are at room temperature.
  • Use a kitchen scale to measure the ingredients, including the orange. If the orange is too small or too big, the cake might turn out too dry or too dense.
  • Taste the orange before baking with it. Choose an orange with a thin skin. The white pith should not be over 3mm.
  • Store the cake at room temperature for up to three days. To freeze leftovers, wrap the cake in plastic wrap, place it in a plastic bag, and freeze it for up to six weeks. When ready, allow the cake to defrost and unwrapped at room temperature. 
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