Fresh Orange Layer Cake

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Fresh Orange Layer Cake is a delicious, citrus-flavored cake with orange buttercream frosting.

fresh orange layer cake

There is plenty of fresh orange going on in this fresh orange layer cake. Freshly squeezed orange juice and grated orange zest are in both the cake and the buttercream. You can expect it to have a wonderful orange flavor.

It’s not your typical chocolate or vanilla cake. Orange is a flavor that you don’t see often, but it’s a wonderful deviation from the norm.

fresh orange layer cake

How to make Fresh Orange Layer Cake:

Sometimes people are a little intimidated to make a cake from scratch, but there is no need to be. You just need to make sure you use the proper ingredients. This orange cake recipe calls for using cake flour. That’s important. Buy the cake flour!  If you’re really not into buying cake flour, you can make your own cake flour using all purpose flour (it’s easy to do).

You’ll begin by sifting the dry ingredients. Then you’ll mix shortening, eggs, sugar and orange zest. To combine the two, you’ll add the dry ingredients into the wet a little at a time, adding orange juice and milk in between additions. Then you have your orange cake batter, it’s divided between pans and baked for 30 minutes.

A few people have asked if they can use unsalted butter in place of the shortening. The answer is, “I think so!” I haven’t tested out this recipe using butter, but shortening and butter are usually interchangeable when baking cakes. It shouldn’t mess with the texture of the cake much.

fresh orange layer cake

How to decorate an orange cake:

I have a great recipe for orange buttercream frosting that I’ve included with the cake recipe. You can use that frosting recipe for the cake, or you can use my favorite buttercream recipe or whatever recipe you prefer.

We opted to frost the orange cake in the photos in a “naked way.” This means we scraped the sides so you could see the cake layers. That’s just an option, and you can frost it completely, if you want. We used half fresh orange slices to decorate the sides of the cake and a little orange twist on top too.

serving fresh orange layer cake

This is a wonderful cake for a special celebration. It’s a welcome change from having chocolate cake as the star of the show. And I think people generally appreciate some creativity when it comes to dessert. 

slice of fresh orange layer cake

Enjoy your fresh orange cake!

Here are a few more layer cake recipes you might like to try:

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5 from 2 votes

Fresh Orange Layer Cake

Totally delicious citrus cake recipe!
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Calories 579kcal
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword orange cake, orange layer cake



  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • cups granulated white sugar
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2/3 cup milk


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large pasteurized egg yolk (see recipes Notes below)
  • 16 ounces powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice



  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round pans.
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the sugar, shortening, eggs and orange zest at high speed for 3 minutes. Beat in the flour mixture a little at a time, alternating with orange juice and milk, beating after each addition until the batter is smooth.
  • Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool, and then frost with orange buttercream frosting.


  • Use an electric mixer to combine the butter, zest, salt and egg yolk in a medium bowl. Add the sugar alternately with orange juice beating until of spreading or piping consistency.


  • Using pasteurized egg yolks in a recipe where the eggs are not cooked reduces risk of salmonella.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 579kcal | Carbohydrates: 88g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 90mg | Sodium: 221mg | Potassium: 204mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 64g | Vitamin A: 402IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 78mg | Iron: 1mg


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  • Giuseppe Moscone wrote:


  • Monie Thompson wrote:

    How do you get the orange slices to stick to the cake? I made this and couldn’t get them to adhere to the sides, even trying to add a little frosting to the back. I ended up using a toothpick to make them stay. Any suggestions?

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      Definitely tricky! Sounds like you did all the right things to make them stay!

  • Carol wrote:

    I want to make this cake and add a Chocolate layer to it, as well. Chocolate and orange is such a huge favourite of mine. Love to find recipes that inspire and this one did! Thanks!

  • Paula wrote:

    When you say, shortening, do you mean like Crisco, or can the shortening be butter? Also, if I wanted this to be lemon, could I just sub anything that is orange, lemon? Thank you.

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      You should be able to use either shortening (Crisco) or unsalted butter. I haven’t tried making this cake lemon, but it’s certainly worth a shot. I’d maybe add a teaspoon of lemon extract, if I were you. Let me know if you try it!

  • Charlotte Moore wrote:

    The layers look so good and moist. I have never heard of an egg yolk in buttercream icing.

  • Sue wrote:

    What is the reason for using shortening instead of butter?

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      You should be able to substitute unsalted butter, if you’d like. When baking cakes, the texture should be similar with either one.