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

Portuguese Orange Cake

It was shared with my by my friend Cherie who is married to a Portuguese man with a major penchant for the orange cake of his country. 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. 

Cherie 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!

Moist Orange Cake

Portuguese Orange Cake is moist and fragrant, with the most alluring bright flavour.

Adding in the egg yolks and orange zest to the batter

It 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.

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.

whip egg whites until stiff peaks form

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.

Mixing the meringue and batter for the Portuguese Orange Cake
The batter prior to baking

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

Other Citrusy Desserts You’ll Love

Of course, can’t forget this recipe for orange pound cake with orange glaze, baked in a pretty bundt pan.

Portuguese Orange Cake
This from scratch, yet simple, Portuguese orange cake recipe is moist and fragrant, with the most unreal bright orange flavour. It's definitely one of the best cake recipes I've got. Similar texture to a sponge cake, but with more moisture than even the best airy cakes you may have had. Both the zest and juice of three oranges are involved, so it is wonderfully orange-y and citrus-y.

Portuguese Orange Cake

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings 9
Keyword Orange Cake, Portuguese Orange Cake


  • cup 150 grams butter, softened
  • 1 ¼ 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)


  • Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Grease an 8×8″ baking dish or line with parchment paper.
  • 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 the zest and juice from all three 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.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk flour and baking powder. With mixer speed on low, gradually beat into the butter mixture until just incorporated.
  • 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.



Calories: 382kcalCarbohydrates: 55gProtein: 6gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 109mgSodium: 185mgPotassium: 141mgFiber: 2gSugar: 32gVitamin A: 631IUVitamin C: 23mgCalcium: 63mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Orange Cake, Portuguese Orange Cake

Last Updated on February 20, 2024 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD

3.7 15 votes
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2 years ago

5 stars
Excellent recipe – we made it exactly as posted here. A keeper!

3 years ago

Next time you make it, could you measure how much orange juice your oranges provide? My tree has big oranges, and I’d also like to try out making this as a pink grapefruit cake if the orange version works.

3 years ago

5 stars
This is so so blummin’ tasty!! However, I put it in the oven for the full 45minutes and the top was coloured nicely but when I cut into it, it was under baked. I feel that if I’d left it in much longer, the top would have started to burn 🤔 Any ideas or tips?

Rufus Dufus
Rufus Dufus
3 years ago

3 stars
The portuguese usually use olive oil for this, not butter. Also, they tend to use a ring cake tin and not a square baking disk.

3 years ago

This is very similar to the Portuguese Orange Cake in the UNICEF Childrens’ Cookbook which I cannot find, so I was looking for the same recipe online. The difference is, that rather than putting the orange juice & half the sugar into the batter, they are made into a syrup…& after the cake which only contains the zest, is baked, it is pricked all over, & the syrup slowly poured on in small increments…with long pauses. All of it will be absorbed eventually, & the cake will be amazing. Now I’m going to do it.

3 years ago

5 stars
Everyone LOVED the cake. It felt so Christmassy and light at the same time.

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