Sunshine Cake


We hosted a brunch recently, and someone contributed a half-gallon of orange juice that we didn’t finish. Since we don’t typically drink juice, I didn’t want it to go to waste, so I poured it into a pot and reduced it on very low heat until it was thick and viscous. I probably had 4 cups to start, and reduced it by half to 2 cups. I used some of the concentrated juice in the recipe and brushed the cakes once they were cool with the rest. I like how it almost gave a look of being shellacked.



  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • grated zest of 3 oranges

In large bowl, “cream” sugar and butter and orange zest — which means to stir to combine and incorporate some air so that the result is light and fluffy — either by hand or with electric mixer. I tend to do all mixing by hand because I find that when I use an electric mixer, bits of buttery sugar fly out all over my kitchen counters and walls. Adding the zest at this point is wonderful, as the oil from the zest gets distributed into the sugar and the fat of the butter.

  • 4 eggs

Add one at a time, stirring well after each addition

In separate bowl, combine the following by stirring with a fork to break-up any lumps (I don’t usually sift my dry ingredients):

  • 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda

In separate small bowl, combine:

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, sour cream, or milk (could also use 1/4 cup of plain, fat-free yogurt + 1/4 cup milk)
  • 1 cup reduced, concentrated orange juice
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Add 1/2 of dry ingredients to butter-sugar-zest mixture. Stir only enough to combine. Do not over-mix.

Add 1/2 of liquid ingredients. Stir only enough to combine. Do not over-mix.

Repeat, by adding remaining dry ingredients and stirring only enough to combine, and then finishing with liquid ingredients and stirring only enough to combine.

I lined 2 loaf pans with parchment paper and baked this batter into 2 loaves. You could also grease & flour a Bundt pan and bake it as 1 Bundt cake.

Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 50-60 minutes. At 25 minutes, rotate pan(s) in case there are hot spots in your oven. At 50 minutes, check for done-ness by inserting toothpick or wooden skewer to see if it comes out with no liquid / dry crumb. Last test for doneness is that the cake(s) should spring-back when pressed lightly, be slightly browned, and should have pulled away slightly from edges of pan(s). Bake additional 5 minutes, as needed, until cake(s) are done.

Allow cake(s) to cool in pan for 15-30 minutes. Then remove from pan(s) and allow to continue cooling on plate or cutting board. Brush cake(s) with more of the concentrated orange juice before they are completely cool.

These freeze and thaw beautifully. I love to heat-up any dessert I am eating, just slightly, in the microwave (5-10 seconds) or toaster oven (3-5 minutes). This cake is wonderfully sweet-tart.



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