Breads, Breakfast and Brunch

Plumcake all’Arancia (Orange Loaf Cake)

Nicoletta February 2, 2019

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Plumcake all’Arancia (Orange Loaf Cake). Simple and oh so delicious, this soft, fragrant, dairy-free loaf cake is ideal for breakfast, snack, or light dessert. All you need is eggs, sugar, flour, oil, and a couple of organic oranges, rich in flavor and Vitamin C.

Song of the day: Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen

Plumcake all'Arancia

Can you see a theme going on here?? I am sharing recipes that in the Italian tradition are suitable for breakfast but double up (or triple?) as snack and dessert.



Plumcake all’Arancia or Orange Loaf Cake

Don’t ask me why in Italy we call “Plumcake” this type of sweets since there are no ‘plums’ involved. It seems like it comes from the English ‘Pound Cake’, but how it happened that “Pound” arriving in Italy has become “Plum” remains a mystery.

What I can tell you is that it is recognizable not only by its characteristic parallelepiped shape but also by the pillowy softness of the crumb and an unmistakable fragrance.

Plumcake all'Arancia

Let’s gather the ingredients

Normally, the ingredients I have, influence my baking and not vice-versa. In the case of this Orange Loaf Cake, I used:

  • flour type 0 (which is less refined than the double zero 00). You can use unbleached all-purpose flour, but also whole wheat flour, or spelt flour;
  • free-range organic eggs (‘a km 0′, as we say, which means local, from the area);
  • organic oranges from the farmers’ market, since I am going to use both the juice and the zest;
  • organic beet sugar I bought in Japan during my last visit. You can use any sugar you have, better if raw or unrefined;
  • peanut oil, which is the only vegetable oil I buy and use it for frying and baking;
  • organic ‘lievito vanigliato’, the Italian vanilla-flavored equivalent of baking powder.
Easy to make

In my apartment in Rome I don’t have a stand mixer, but an old handheld mixer that was my mom’s. It works perfectly to beat up the eggs and sugar nice and fluffy. Then you need to add the vegetable oil, the orange juice, and the zest and keep beating on low to incorporate. After that, you add the sifted flour and baking powder and stir or beat just until incorporated.

Tips on how to get a soft, not too dense “hard to swallow” crumb
  • Always sift the flour and all the other dry ingredients in the recipe. In this way, you eliminate any lumps and incorporate more air that will help to get a nice rise of the loaf.
  • Add the flour last in your batter. As soon as the flour comes in contact with the liquids it develops gluten. And the more you mix the ingredients the more gluten you develop. The end result will be a dense and “gummy”, (read: “hard to swallow”) crumb.
  • In some cases, to increase the softness, just add a starch (corn starch, potato starch, or rice flour).
  • All the ingredients have to be at room temperature, including eggs and dairy (butter, milk, yogurt, when using).
  • Beat the eggs and sugar for a few minutes until they start to foam and gain volume and fluffiness.
  • The oven temperature must be moderate. The best cooking temperature is at 350°F (180°C). And always preheat the oven, at least 15 minutes before baking.

Now that you’ve made a wonderful batter, the last step is to pour it into a loaf pan greased and floured and wait for it to turn into a tall, golden loaf. You can use any loaf pan, I used a silicone mold.

Plumcake all'AranciaPlumcake all'Arancia

How do you know it’s done?

Since every oven and baking pans are different, I don’t always rely on the baking times like they are some set rules. I usually do not leave my baked good unattended for long, instead, I check it often (from the glass door, I mean. Don’t open the oven door before the 30 minutes or it will flop). I check the rise, I look for that golden color, and when I think it might be done, I poke it with a wooden skewer to see if it comes out clean. I also engage my sense of smell. My mom always says that you can tell if a cake it’s done by the particular aroma coming from the oven. It smells like it’s done, she asserts 😉 .

Plumcake all'Arancia

Plumcake all’Arancia, Orange Loaf Cake, is a simple cake that tastes like home to me. It is a cake I’ve been making for decades and that I could do with my eyes closed. When I am in Rome, my family requests I make it to have it for breakfast, or if we are having people over for an afternoon tea.

Hope you try it. Its soft crumb and delicate orange flavor will brighten your mornings and cheer you up like a ray of sunshine on a cold winter day.


Song of the day: Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen (I’ve been a Queen fan all my life. I went to see the movie ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and it was absolutely amazing!).

Plumcake all'Arancia

Plumcake all’Arancia (Orange Loaf Cake)

  • Author: Nicoletta
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 10 slices 1x
  • Category: Breakfast/Snack
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Italian


Plumcake all’Arancia (Orange Loaf Cake). Simple and oh so delicious, this soft, fragrant loaf cake is ideal for breakfast, snack or light dessert. All you need is eggs, sugar, flour, oil, and a couple of oranges, rich in flavor and Vitamin C.


  • 3 eggs, organic free-range
  • 125 g sugar (I used beet sugar)
  • 100 g vegetable oil (I used peanut oil)
  • 2 organic oranges, juice and zest
  • 250 g flour type 0 (or unbleached all-purpose)
  • 18 g baking powder (1 package of lievito vanigliato)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C).
  2. In a bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the eggs and sugar for a few minutes until foamy and fluffy.
  3. Add the vegetable oil, the orange juice, and the zest. Beat on low to incorporate.
  4. Sift the flour and baking powder. Slowly add it to the wet beating on low just until incorporated.
  5. Pour on a loaf pan greased and floured (I used a silicone mold).
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for about 35 minutes. It might take longer, it depends on the oven. Check it after the 30-minute mark with a skewer. If it comes out clean it’s done. I always say that you can tell if a cake it’s done by the smell coming from the oven. It smells like it’s done 😉 .
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes on a rack.
  8. Unmold, slice, and serve.


You can have it plain, dust it with powdered sugar, or with a simple syrup (the juice of 1 orange and 50 g of sugar melted on the stove) brushed it on top when still warm.

You can use spelt flour or whole wheat flour.

It freezes well. You can freeze it whole, or half. I even froze individual slices wrapped in plastic and kept in a ziplock bag. Took out of the freezer at night and enjoyed in the morning as if it was freshly baked.

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Plumcake all'Arancia

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  • Avatar
    Reply Milena February 2, 2019 at 9:37 am

    I wish I had this fragrant loaf in front of me right now:) Love that you use peanut oil in it, it is a favorite! Definitely a great coffee companion, whether at breakfast or any other time of the day that calls for a snack. I’d even enjoy it as dessert as you suggest, paired with a small glass of imperial stout, mmm!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 2, 2019 at 12:56 pm

      Thank you, Milena! For me, it works either way, breakfast, snack, dessert. I can imagine with that stout! 🙂

  • Avatar
    Reply monika February 4, 2019 at 5:33 pm

    Hello! Two questions and one comment for you:

    250 g flour type 0 (or unbleached all-purpose) – you said we can use spelt flour. Would it also be 250 grams? And can it be whole grain spelt flour?

    loaf pan greased and floured (I used a silicone mold) – your pictures show me that your loaf pan is a longer one than my own. Would a 9″ by 5″ (metal or glass) be ok?

    Also – although oranges are an ok source of vitamin C – unfortunately the final cake here will not be rich in this vitamin as heat destroys vitamin C 🙁

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 5, 2019 at 12:06 am

      Hello! Thank you for your questions and comment.
      1) I like to use white spelt, but I’ve also used whole grain spelt (not in this cake). If you want to use it for this cake, it will probably result in a darker color, a denser texture and a more pronounced nutty spelt flavor. It might also be crumblier and not rise as much, but still delicious.
      2) My silicon mold is longer but also thinner, a regular loaf pan will work perfectly. Just, as I say in the recipe, check the cooking time.
      Let me know if you try!

  • Avatar
    Reply Colleen February 4, 2019 at 9:50 pm

    Thank you for telling us about origins of the plumcake name. I was kind of wondering why most desserts in Italy had plums. This cake is amazing. I can’t wait to make it for the next time I have company and soon, so that I can use fresh oranges. Delicious! Thanks for sharing.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 5, 2019 at 12:07 am

      Ah ah, yes, no plums are involved 🙂 . I love it and make it often. Hope you try it!

  • Avatar
    Reply mimi rippee February 5, 2019 at 4:18 pm

    This cake is really lovely! By the way, I made your chicken cacciatore. I didn’t take photos! So sorry! But we loved it.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 5, 2019 at 11:55 pm

      Thank you, Mimi! Oh, so happy to hear that you loved Loreto’s chicken cacciatore! It would mean a lot to us if you could go back to the post and rate the recipe! Thank you so much!

  • Avatar
    Reply Leanne | Crumb Top Baking February 5, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    I love that this recipe doesn’t call for a lot of ingredients. And the idea of having this for breakfast is so enticing! The smell of a fresh orange loaf in the morning must be amazing!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 5, 2019 at 11:57 pm

      Simple flavorful recipes are what I am used to, from my upbringing 🙂 . In the morning, a piece of this cake is amazing! Thank you!

  • Avatar
    Reply Denise@urbnspice February 6, 2019 at 9:00 am

    I absolutely love seeing the recipes from your upbringing. Those are the very best, aren’t they? And the cute baking tips from your Mom are so familiar to me as well. I can almost smell the fragrance that your beautiful Orange Loaf Cake would emit from your kitchen. I will pin to try very soon. Thank you for sharing this precious family recipe with us., Nicoletta. 💗

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 6, 2019 at 11:58 am

      The fragrance is great, as is the texture of this simple cake. We love it. Thank you so much!

  • Avatar
    Reply marilyn @family food around the clock February 7, 2019 at 7:45 pm

    this is a most bake for the weekend! my husband and son love taking to work | school a homemade bake. Thank you for sharing 🙂

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 8, 2019 at 12:10 am

      Thank you! Some people already made it and loved it. It is so easy to make, with good ingredients and lovely to eat, even plain.

  • Avatar
    Reply Kristen February 9, 2019 at 8:04 am

    I love recipes that can double or triple up and this would be the perfect breakfast or snack for sure. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 10, 2019 at 7:46 am

      It is great for breakfast but we like it also or snack and dessert 🙂 . Thank you!!

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