At first glance this question might look like a duplicate of this one: How can I intensify the orange flavour in orange cake? it isn't. I'm making this cake for the second time:Orange Olive Oil Cake but I'm giving it a bit of a tweak and could use some advice regarding the tweak.

The recipe calls for two whole oranges, quartered, peel and all. The oranges are to be brought to a boil and drained twice, then simmered in syrup until the rinds are tender. Then the solids are drained from the syrup and pureed in a food processor, the batter is then mixed in the food processor with the orange puree.

The first time I made the cake I followed the recipe exactly and fell in love with its texture. I also loved the way the olive oil came through as an aftertaste. Unfortunately, my oranges lacked flavor and had very thick rinds. I knew going in that the orange flavor component of the cake was going to be lacking, and I was right. As far as orange, all I could really taste was the pith.

So, now I want to go solidly in the other direction. I want knock your socks off orange flavor with little or no "pithyness". Towards that end I have this: (that's grams BTW, tared weight)

orange peel

I assume the original recipe calls for rinsing twice because the whole rind (including all of the pith) is included. Because I used a peeler, not a zester, I do have some pith, but not nearly as much.

orange peel2

Towards the end of the cooking of the puree I plan to add a couple of peeled oranges. No matter how I treat the peels, I think I can guesstimate to get the volume, consistency and level of sweetness I want. I need the peels tender enough to puree, I'd like to eliminate as much of the pithiness as possible, but I don't want to pour great orange flavor down the drain. I'm not even married to the idea of boiling the peels, I'd love to consider other methods.I want maximum orange flavor from these peels for a very flavorful cake. Any advice?

1 Answer 1


First I would recommend viewing the episode of Good Eats, Orange Aid. While there is not a direct answer to your question Alton does talk about getting the maximum orange flavor as well as how to avoid the pithy flavor. (This link to Orange Aid will take you to Amazon Prime, where if you are not an Amazon Prime member you may purchase for $2.99...)

The take away that I believe applies to your situation is this: remove as much of the pith as possible (but I'm guessing you already know this)...

The second take away is that the variety of orange really matters, many varieties are more flavorful than others and these are NOT the varieties most frequently found in your mega-mart. (which are chosen more for appearance than flavor--go figure) Valencia, Hamlin and/or Seville oranges would be good choices. Avoid NAVEL ORANGES!

Having looked at your recipe ever so briefly I might suggest an experiment as well... take about an ounce of vodka or everclear and let that sit for a few days with orange zest and vanilla beans, filter out the solid and use this concoction in place of the vanilla extract. The orange oils in the zest are alcohol soluble and thus should provide you with a nice orange extract to intensify your flavor. (I have not tried this with orange, so this is pure speculation).

  • I'm definitely going to try the extraction idea. I was planning on making the cake tonight, but I can put the big pile-o-peels in the freezer for a couple of weeks while I see what a few tablespoons of zest does with just enough vodka to cover. Great idea. Of course my 5lb pound bag of oranges are navel, dangit, but they are a particularly tasty variety Cara Cara so I'm still hopeful. I can't believe that I can't remember that episode of Good Eats, I thought I had them all just about memorized. :)
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 3:16
  • Make one tonight, make another one in a couple of weeks...can't have too much cake :)
    – Cos Callis
    Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 5:05
  • transcripts available for the episode at : goodeatsfanpage.com/season12/oranges/orange_aid.htm
    – Joe
    Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 15:49
  • @Joe Great link! I was so bummed when the entire episodes (all of them) were deleted from YouTube (I've got to remember to copy videos that I like) but transcripts are almost as good. I don't get to see as much of my beloved, but I can read his words! Thanks.
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 0:53
  • @Jolenealaska How has the extract process been going?
    – Cos Callis
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 1:01

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