What’s in an orange peel? (+gluten-free orange cake with glazed cranberries)

As you’re probably aware, I’m not normally a gluten-free eater.  Quite the opposite, actually (glutenful?).  But with diagnosis of gluten digestion problems on the rise, it’s always nice to find recipes that don’t contain it – especially when it’s something unexpected…like a cake.

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A few weeks ago someone in my pottery class someone brought in a flourless orange pound cake.  Dense, rich, and sweet, I had to know the secret: it’s two oranges, boiled and pureed (with peels on!) right into the batter.  Which led me to wonder: what’s the nutritional value of orange peel?

Luckily, there’s actually information for this, even though most people aren’t using it for more than zesting.  NutritionData shows that just a tablespoon of peel has a gram of fiber and 14% DV of vitamin C – for next to no calories.  Good deal!  I estimate there’s probably about 4 tablespoons of peel per orange, so even though some of the vitamin C is lost in cooking (it’s highly volatile), it’s a good way to add flavor and bulk.

I made a few changes to the recipe from my pottery friend…the glazed cranberries were my addition, and really take it over the top!  And the addition of almond extract plays up the nuttiness.  Enjoy warm or cold, plain or with a dollop of cream.  It’s the perfect dessert to entertain with this autumn!

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Gluten-free orange pound cake with glazed cranberries


  • 2 whole navel oranges (they are seedless!)
  • 1 c white sugar
  • 2 c almonds or almond meal
  • 1/2 c oat flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 6 eggs
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

Glazed cranberries:

  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 c fresh cranberries

Boil the oranges in a covered pot for 2 hours; ensure water covers them as much as possible.  Preheat oven to 400F. In a blender or food processor, crush the almonds into almond meal; add the oat flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and mix.  Add all other batter ingredients and blend completely.  Grease a tall cake dish (mine was 8″ diameter and about 3″ deep – a bundt pan would also work beautifully), then sprinkle brown sugar evenly in the bottom.  Add cranberries.  Pour in the cake batter and bake for 45 minutes.  Cool for half an hour, then turn onto a plate.  People will ask you for the recipe…please direct them here!

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4 thoughts on “What’s in an orange peel? (+gluten-free orange cake with glazed cranberries)

      • Baked this yesterday. The cake was yummy and was definitely a hit at the party and with my roommates. Two things I would do differently next time: 1. Pre-grease the pan A LOT–my cake stuck when I tried to flip it out so the final presentation wasn’t all that & 2. My oranges were not very sweet, and actually a little bitter, so that really affected the cake’s taste. It was still good, but I prefer a sweeter taste which the oranges I used could not deliver.

      • So glad you tried it! Great feedback…my pan didn’t have a problem with sticking (or maybe I did spray it and forgot about it??). I used Navel oranges, which I think should always be sweet, but can definitely see how a bitter orange would throw off the balance, esp since I used as little sugar as possible.

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