Vegan orange cake: easy, budget-friendly and pesticide-free


Delicious slices of vegan orange cake, with fresh oranges and italian coffee machine behind


Time:        prep 10 mins
                  bak. 30 mins
Difficulty: very easy
Yields:      6 portions
Cost:         very low

Introduction to vegan orange cake

Vegan orange cake is a must for winter, especially if you live in a region famous for citrus fruits, as I do.
While I don’t have a sweet tooth, I enjoy both eating it and making it, because by requiring a large number of oranges, it turns out to be a good anti-waste way in case your oranges are not so fresh anymore; then it is a light cake and healthier than many other store-bought snacks and sweets.
And, hear hear, it also acts as the perfect room fragrance, so much so that you will be thanked not only by family members but also by all the condominium.


Why vegan orange cake is a CHE (Cheap Healthy Ethical) recipe

The vegan orange cake in this recipe does not require any culinary skills besides not demanding a capacious budget; besides, it has really very proletarian and findable ingredients, just the way I like it.
What’s more, the presence of whole wheat flour, allows us to make a cake with a low glycemic index, counteracting the famous yo-yo effect between peak blood sugar and insulin production[1]: a very atypical feature if we think of all the other cakes and snacks with refined flours and very rich in sugar.
And yes, this delicious vegan orange cake also has little added sugar, so much so that it owes its sweetness mostly to the natural fructose in the orange itself.
But the sun fruit’s range of nutrients is not limited to simply replenishing the sugary flavor: with its rich citric acid content, it is able to regulate blood sugar making this dessert less of a sin of gluttony[2].
Finally, vegan orange cake also makes us smile on the side of sustainability.
Not contemplating any ingredients of animal origin, it is naturally vegan; plus it is environmentally friendly: being careful to conserve energy by using the oven to bake other dishes as well, before, after and during.


Which oranges to use for the best vegan orange cake?

Yellow, red, orange, it doesn’t matter what color you have at home, so much as the orange cake I propose comes divinely with all types.
Nevertheless special late-season oranges, being more sugary therefore less sour, are ideal for making cakes.
If possible, however, choose them organic: the vegan orange cake recipe also calls for using the peels, where pesticide residues are most concentrated.
So forgive me if, before moving on to the ingredients, I address the issue of pesticides on the peel; an essential topic in my opinion for all recipes involving orange fruit.


Orange peel can be full of pesticide residues

If you cannot buy organic, another option is to choose oranges labeled “untreated.”
Although this type of product is not free of pesticide residue, at least it does not contain the “disinfectant/fungicide” treatment: it is applied to oranges after harvesting in order to protect the peel from unwanted guests; so as to prolong its shelf life; the most commonly used are the fungicides thiabendazole (E233) and imazalil (found only in imported oranges-all the more reason to choose local).


How to recognize edible peels

Organic oranges are always recognizable by the logo with the green leaf; the “untreated” ones in the supermarket normally carry a label guaranteeing said characteristic; but at farmers’ markets you cannot always expect an inscribed guarantee.
When we are in front of an unlabeled orange, just view the peel: the untreated orange, very often on the surface has imperfections or stains; and it is not highly polished (because no wax has been applied); and to be on the safer side, choose those with the green leaves still attached.
Keeping in mind that there always remains the question of pesticide residues applied before harvesting.
Here are some simple home remedies to stay safe (in case you cannot buy organic oranges).

  • First, wash them well with hot water, at no less than 50 degrees (which reduces the concentration of Thiabendazole to 0; and in the absence of a UV bath, it remains the most effective solution against the indestructible imazalil[3]).
  • After that, soak for at least 15 minutes with the following solutions of your choice: water-sodium bicarbonate, water-apple or wine vinegar, salt water. The most effective solution is offered by good old sodium bicarbonate: according to laboratory research in this way you can reduce the fungicide contained by 84%[4].
    The most skepticals can use all these options, one after the other.



Ingredients for a Healthy Vegan Orange Cake

200ml orange juice (about 4 small oranges, 3 medium)
80g wholewheat flour + 120g bread flour (Italian Type 0), both sifted
60g or 5 tbsp of brown sugar
50ml or 5 tablespoons evo oil (or mixed with the other seed oil)
1 tbsp orange zest
1/2 level tsp baking soda to sift
1 tsp vinegar or cream of tartare (in this case adopt the dosage indicated on packaging)
1 pinch of salt
oil to grease the pan or baking paper


Directions for the whole-wheat vegan orange cake

Step 1. Start by grating the well-washed oranges, being very careful not to grate the white part of the peel: the penalty is a fragrant, yet inedible cake because of the bitter taste.
Now you can turn on the oven and set it to 180 C degrees.

Step 2. Then squeeze the oranges to obtain 200 ml of juice.
Step 3. Pour the oil in a deep bowl and add the sugar, mixing well with a whisk to avoid lumps.
Step 4. Add the grated zest and orange juice.
Step 5. In another bowl, prepare the dry ingredients and add the sifted flours. The bran from the whole-wheat flour will of course remain on the strainer, however do not throw it away, but add it to the dough.
Step 6. Now you can mix the liquid part with the dry one, possibly stirring all the time until you get a smooth dough.

Step 7. At this point, oil the baking dish well or line it with baking paper.
Step 8. And just before pouring the vegan orange cake batter into the pan, mix the baking soda with the vinegar (or cream tartare) in a small bowl; and without wasting any time, pour this mixture into the batter, stirring vigorously one last time.
Step 9. Pour everything into the pan and bake immediately (I used a 22cm rectangulare cake pan).
Step 10. After about 25-30 minutes, you are ready for the toothpick test: if it comes out dry, it is time to bake; if it is wet, let it sit for another 5 minutes and repeat the test.
Step 11. When you take the cake out of the oven with the “toothpick test”, wait another 15 minutes for it to cool enough to transfer to a serving plate without breaking it.

Serve hot or within the next few days.
This cake can be kept at room temperature for at least 3 days, or cut into slices and frozen for up to 3 months.

Is it really necessary to sift the flour and why?

Sifting the flour helps break up lumps and aerate the flour (and other dry ingredients). In the past, sifting was an essential procedure to remove various impurities; today, in the industrial age, even small businesses are equipped with machines that can reveal any foreign object in the flour.
Therefore, our homemade sifting is more to oxygenate the flour granules, especially if you live in humid areas, and to promote leavening, rather than to mechanically separate unwanted parts.
This process is important for making bulky cakes; however, it becomes necessary when we use less refined ingredients such as whole wheat flour and baking soda.
This process is important for making bulky cakes; however, it becomes necessary when we use less refined ingredients such as whole wheat flour and baking soda (instead of industrial yeast).
It may sound unbelievable, but sifting the flour also reduces its weight by about 20 percent. As a result, you need to be careful with quantities and read the recipes carefully: do you need total grams of sifted or sifted flour?
In this recipe, for example, you need to weigh first and then sift.
But another benefit of sifting is that it reduces the need to mix a dough well. As I explained in the no-knead bread recipe, you need to knead vigorously to get a strong gluten matrix; on the other hand, if we do not want that effect in our fluffy cake, we need to mix just enough to mix the ingredients.
So listen to me and sift the flours when a recipe explicitly asks you to do so.

Enjoy your vegan orange cake and happy revolution to all


1) Olagunju, Aderonke Ibidunni. “Influence of Whole Wheat Flour Substitution and Sugar Replacement with Natural Sweetener on Nutritional Composition and Glycaemic Properties of Multigrain Bread.” Preventive nutrition and food science vol. 24,4 (2019): 456-467. doi:10.3746/pnf.2019.24.4.456
2) Yadikar, Nigary et al. “Exploring the mechanism of citric acid for treating glucose metabolism disorder induced by hyperlipidemia.” Journal of food biochemistry vol. 46,12 (2022): e14404. doi:10.1111/jfbc.14404
3) Kruve, Anneli & Lamos, Andrea & Kirillova, Jekaterina & Herodes, Koit. (2007). Pesticide residues in commercially available oranges and evaluation of potential washing methods. Proc. Estonian Acad. Sci. Chem. 56. 134-141. 10.3176/chem.2007.3.03.
4) B. Acoglu, P. Yolci Omeroglu, Effectiveness of different type of washing agents on reduction of pesticide residues in orange (Citrus sinensis) LWT, Volume 147, 2021, 111690


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