Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Gâteau à l'orange (with white starter and yogurt)

When I first made this cake, the Man officially declared it to be the best he ever had. Hard to believe but that's what he said. Since it is easy and healthful, I have made it several times since, varying the ingredients: replacing some of the oil by applesauce (the cake doesn't rise as much), replacing the agave syrup by twice the same amount of sugar (makes the cake a bit lighter), skipping the eggs altogether (makes for a denser cake), using more oil (the cake rises a little more), replacing the yogurt by almond milk (makes for a lighter cake). The texture varies somewhat but the end result remains a very moist cake with a lovely orange flavor.
When I was growing up in Paris, a wonderful woman named Micheline worked in our house as a mother's helper. She came from the Berry in central France and had the strongest regional accent I had ever heard. She also had a huge heart and a sunny disposition. Her husband worked at the post office and her little boy was an adorable little rascal who one day - he must have been 6 - decided to drench passers-by in the street below (we were on the 8th floor) using the water hose my mom kept coiled on the balcony for her plants. He had a pretty good aim too!
Well anyway, Micheline was a very good cook and she often baked for us a "gâteau à l'orange", basically a pound cake containing equal amounts of butter, sugar, flour and eggs, plus one orange. She put the zest in the batter and poured the juice all over the cake when it came out of the oven. Scrumptious!
I made that cake many times back in the days when we had never heard of cholesterol and it was always a huge success. Since the cake is just as good made with more healthful ingredients, now that my local supermarket carries organic oranges (and needs to be encouraged to continue to do so), I see no reason not to indulge again.

  • 240 g mature white starter
  • 228 g plain (or vanilla) yogurt (I used homemade full-fat yogurt)
  • 30 g almond milk (regular milk would work fine) (depending on the hydration rate of your starter and the thickness of the yogurt, you may want to use a bit more or a bit less)
  • 110 g white whole wheat flour
  • 230 g unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 80 g agave syrup
  • 20 g liquid honey (I would have used 100 g agave syrup but I ran out)
  • 1 orange, untreated, unpeeled, organic if possible, thoroughly washed, then chopped fine (rind and all) in the food processor (cut up the orange first to make sure there are no seeds)
  • the juice of another orange
  • 9 g baking soda
  • 1 pinch of salt
  1. In a large bowl, mix the starter, the flours and the yogurt
  2. Add milk to adjust the consistency (it should be look like a starter with an 80% hydration rate)
  3. Set to rise (the duration of the rise will vary according to the room temperature)
  4. When nicely risen, pre-heat the oven at 350º F/177º C
  5. Mix in the remaining ingredients, adding the baking soda last and pour into a pre-oiled cake pan (I used a kouglof pan as I like the shape but any deep pan will do. Don't substitute a shallow pan as the cake would end up being too dense)
  6. Bake for 50 minutes
  7. Let the cake rest 5 minutes before taking it out of the pan and setting it to cool on a rack
  8. Drench with orange juice just before serving (if the cake is for grown-ups only, Grand-Marnier, Cointreau or Triple Sec can replace some of the juice).

This "gâteau à l'orange" goes to Susan, from Wild Yeast for Yeastpotting.


  1. Wow, another of your breads for my list... Merry Christmas!!!!!

  2. Good story telling and absolutely great idea in using levain for cakes, I approve 100% and the man has reason to look so happy!
    Feliz navidad!

  3. Orange cakes have a special place in my heart and when made with SD starter, well...! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your loved ones, MC!

  4. Merry Christmas to you and yours, Miriam, Jeremy and Susan, and thank you for being frequent visitors to Farine!

  5. How tastey that looks...after what i just ate...
    standing roast...challah...stollen ...Pandoro...
    I can actually say I would have a piece...
    Once again Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
    to you and your man...

  6. Hmmm... Orange cake. And a healthy recipe, too! Its already bookmarked.
    You really put a unpeeled orange in the food prozessor? Doesn't make this the cake very bitter?

  7. Cette recette me plaît énormément. J'y reviendrai sous peu, soies-en sûre!
    Merci :-)
    And Happy Post-Christmas to all of you :-)

  8. @Judd, thank you and may all your dreams come true in 2010...
    @Tia, thank you for visiting. I love your yummy blog!
    @Stefanie, actually the first time I saw this being done was over the summer when Didier Rosada showed us how to make panettone. He puts whole oranges in the batter and it struck me as pretty cool. The organic oranges my supermarket carries come from California. They are very sweet with no hint of bitterness. You may want to check that yours are the same as a bitter orange would probably not be as pleasant to eat whole. What I love about this technique is that it makes for a supertasty cake.
    @Flo, coucou et merci de ta visite! Joyeux après-Noël à vous aussi...

  9. How big is the orange? Can I use navel orange and process it in the food processor?


  10. Hi, Marjorie, the oranges I get from my supermarket weigh between 175 and 195 grams. A navel orange would work fine if it isn't bitter. The only way to find out really is to try. This cake is the result of a lot of different trials and, I would say, errors, except that we loved it in all its versions.

  11. Wow that cake does look incredibly moist and delicious! Perfect since oranges are in season right now.

  12. I made this cake as soon as I read your post. I used one whole orange and the juice of one orange. I guess the orange was too big or... should I have used the juice for drenching over the cake?
    By the way, I've been enjoying your blog for some time. Have a Happy New Year!

  13. Hi, Joanne! Nothing beats a good orange cake... Not even chocolate IMHO. ;-)
    Hi, MH, thank you for your nice words and a Happy New Year to you too. What happened to your cake? My orange was about 180 g and it went into the batter, juice, rind and all. I used the juice of another orange for the drenching. It is a very moist cake.

  14. Hi, again
    I used both, one entire orange and the juice of another orange in the batter! You can imagine how it turned out. I shaved the outer browned part and discard the rest. I even like the little bitter taste. Hope it'll look like yours next time I try. Thanks!

  15. Oh, yes! I see... Way too wet! Sorry! What I do is drench the cake with the juice of the second orange just before serving it. Sometimes my grand-kids ask for even more fresh juice right on their slice and I oblige, too happy to hear them ask for something healthful (for a change). It becomes more like a pudding then.

  16. question: in the intro you mention reducing the oil, then there is no oil in the recipe... Did that get left out?

  17. lj2shoes, I am away from home and can't check my notes. I have made so many different versions of this cake that I can't remember clearly, I may have made this one without any oil at all, which is why there is no mention of it. I'll check in 3 weeks when I get back. Sorry about that...

  18. Wow ! What a great cake! Thank you! ...It's really a big enjoyment for the mouth and the eyes. I love the taste of orange in dough. It is naturally colored and so much moist and deliciously fragrant and fresh. For me, as I belong to a North African background, it 's my great joy to smell my grandma orangeries through this humanly old-fashioned treat !!!
    A little touch of orange-blossom water (tsp) in an orange syrup makes it heavenly better.
    ...Oranges great lover,

  19. From Leyla again,
    Hi, I forgot to wish you...Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you!!! It's just so nice to share with you guys baking ideas over Farine!!!!


  20. Thank you so much, Leyla! I too love the fragrance and the taste of oranges... I have to make this cake again. I haven't in a while. Best wishes to you and yours for the holidays and the New Year!



Blog Designed by: Deanna @ Design Chicky