I love when blood oranges are in season. They feel like a tiny breadcrumb in the direction of spring. Nothing beats cutting into a blood orange and seeing a sunset in a single segment during the bleak winter months. This blood orange cake is simple, easy to make and bursting with orange flavour.
Blood oranges are tarter than regular oranges and their flavour is deeper so it’s a match made in heaven to paired them with a sweet cake. I iced the cake with our cream cheese frosting and finished it with twists of fresh orange. It’s just as delicious served bare with a smear of butter or try our clementine and blood orange curd.
Questions about the recipe? Do you want to change something Or did something go wrong with your blood orange cake? I’ve included all the recipe notes at the bottom of the page with the hope of improving your experience here at blue border. If you found this useful, I’d love your support on Instagram, click here to follow.
300g non-dairy milk
Zest of 2 blood oranges and 2 Tbsps. juice
300g gluten-free flour, all-purpose*
¾ tsp. xanthan gum, leave out if your flour already contains xanthan
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
85g neutral vegetable oil
185g light muscovado sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 160C and line a loaf tin with parchment paper.
In a large jug (or bowl) combine the blood orange zest, 2 tablespoons of blood orange juice and non-dairy milk. Stir well and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl sift together the flour, xanthan gum, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
Add the oil, sugar and vanilla to the milk and mix well until any sugar lumps have dissolved. Pour the wet mix into the dry and use a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon to mix the batter until all the flour is fully incorporated.
Transfer the batter to the loaf tin and bake for 45mins. The cake is ready when a skewer sent through the middle comes out clean.
Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before decorating or slicing.
Serve the cake as it is or smother it in a half portion of cream cheese frosting and top with slices of blood orange.
*I use Dove’s Farm gluten-free all-purpose flour to make this recipe for blood orange cake and I love the way it performs. It’s important to keep in mind that all-purpose gluten-free flour is made of a blend of gluten-free flours (potato starch, corn starch, brown rice flour, white rice flour etc.).
If you use a different brand of flour you may need to add a touch more liquid as each GF flour mix will absorb moisture to a different extent.
Allow your batter to sit for a few minutes after mixing. The batter will thicken up significantly and, if it’s very thick, this is a good indicator of whether your mix needs more liquid. Try adding 10-15% more liquid.
Do I have to use the xanthan gum?
Yes – see ‘Why is my gluten-free cake falling apart?’
Can I use caster sugar instead of muscovado sugar?
I use muscovado because I like the flavour and it gives gluten-free cakes a golden brown colour that can be hard to achieve with white sugar but yes the cake will still turn out perfectly fine with caster sugar.
I can’t find blood oranges, can I make this cake a different flavour?
Absolutely. This recipe without the orange is a great vanilla sponge (just add apple cider vinegar instead of orange juice to the milk) or replace the blood orange with ordinary orange, lemon or grapefruit. You can also try adding a couple of tablespoons of poppy seeds along with whatever citrus you choose to include.
Gluten-free Cake Baking Questions & Troubleshooting
Why do you use baking powder and baking soda?
Gluten-free bakes always need a little more help. Both raising agents together have a greater leavening ability and gives GF cakes an extra boost.
Why is my gluten-free cake falling apart?
You left out the xanthan gum. In this recipe (and many others) xanthan gum is standing in for gluten and eggs as a binder, without it, GF bakes tend to crumble. If you’re opposed to xanthan gum you can try a flax egg but note that I haven’t tried the recipe with a binder other than xanthan gum.
You didn’t let it cool completely before slicing. Gluten-free cakes are more fragile than cakes made with wheat flour. Allowing your cake to cool completely before slicing allows the crumb structure to fully set. If you skip this step you may find your cake falls to crumbs.
Why is the cake baked at 160C?
In general gluten-free bakes are baked at a lower oven temperature. Low and slow baking helps with the development of structure in the absence of gluten, prevents crumbling and stops your bakes from drying out.
Why does my cake have a gritty texture?
Rice flour is to blame for a gritty texture in GF bakes. Try using a different all-purpose GF flour or make your own mix. I like this recipe for gluten-free flour by Minimalist Baker and even better make it with superfine brown and white rice flour.