Portuguese Orange Cake

This Portuguese orange cake is moist and fragrant, with the most alluring bright orange flavour.
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Portugese Orange Cake on Foodess

This recipe was shared with my by my friend Cherie, who is married to a Portuguese man with a penchant for orange cake. I realize it hasn't even been a week since I posted a Lemon Pound Cake recipe, but I don't often hear anyone complain about too much cake. She bakes it regularly and it's a treat I look forward to when I pop by for play dates - our sons were born on the same day in the same hospital!

Portuguese Orange Cake is moist and fragrant, with the most alluring bright flavour that leans slightly more toward bitterness than the tartness you might expect from citrus desserts - this is owing to the lashings of zest beaten into the batter. Don't worry, it's not bitter-bitter, just enough to be intriguing.

Portugese Orange Cake on Foodess-1

It's a sponge cake of sorts, with egg whites folded in at the last minute to lighten the batter, but with more moisture than the airy sponge cakes you may have had. Both the zest and juice of three oranges are involved, so it is wonderfully orange-y.

Portugese Orange Cake on Foodess-3

Make sure to bring all of your ingredients to room temperature before you bake - cold eggs or oranges will cause the butter to seize up.

Serve with a dusting of confectioners' sugar, a fluffy dollop of whipped cream, or a scoop of softened vanilla ice cream. Leftovers freeze well!

  • Cook Time
  • Prep Time
  • 9-12 servingsServings


  • 2/3 cup (150 grams) butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, separated, room temperature
  • 3 large oranges, room temperature
  • 2 cups (9 oz/250 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Grease an 8x8" baking dish or line with parchment paper.

  2. Beat butter and sugar on medium speed of electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each. With mixer on low speed, add zest and juice from oranges. The mixture will appear curdled at first - that's ok. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat until it comes together, pausing to scrape down sides of bowl as needed.

  3. In a separate bowl, whisk flour and baking powder. With mixer speed on low, gradually beat into the butter mixture until just incorporated.

  4. In another bowl, whip egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold 1/3 of the whites into the cake batter to lighten it up, then gently fold in the rest. (Use a light hand so you don't deflate the whites.) Scrape batter into prepared baking pan and bake for 35-45 minutes, until top feels springy when gently pressed and tester inserted in centre comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs.