Blood Orange Pound Cake

This blood orange pound cake is a fantastic seasonal dessert. The buttery, rich cake is ribboned with a marmalade layer, steeped in a blood orange syrup, and topped with a light blood orange glaze. Irresistible.

A blood orange pound cake on a wire rack with glaze and sugar syrup, three slices cut

Blood oranges have a relatively short season, which is why The One and I try to find as many ways to use them as possible. I created this blood orange pound cake after hearing him moan one too many times, “You never bake for me anymore.” (This is true, but the reason why is because his pleas for baked goods are always followed the next day by, “Please! No more cakes and breads. That damn scale is lying again!”) So goes my life.

What I love about this cake is blood orange zest and juice are in every component: the cake, the soaking syrup, and the glaze. If you can find the Moro variety of blood orange, that’s ideal, as it has a deep red skin and juice.–David Leite

Blood Orange Swirl Pound Cake

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  • (4)
  • 1 H
  • 2 H
  • Makes 1 loaf
5/5 - 4 reviews
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Special Equipment: A 9-by-5-by-3 inch loaf pan (23-by-13-by-8 cm or 8 cups)


  • For the blood orange pound cake
  • For the blood orange soaking syrup
  • For the blood orange icing


Make the blood orange pound cake

Crank the oven to 350°F (175°C) and adjust the rack to the middle position. Cut a piece of parchment paper that’s approximately 9-by-16-inches (23-by-40-cm). Coat a 9-by-5-inch (23-by-13-cm) loaf pan lightly with the baking spray and fit the parchment into the pan so that it lines the bottom and sides with ample overhang.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a small bowl, mix 3 tablespoons (18 g) zest into the sugar using your fingertips to release the oils in the zest.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer on medium-high, beat the butter and zest-infused sugar, scraping down the bowl a few times, until it’s fluffy and pale yellow, 5 to 6 minutes.

Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition until fully incorporated. Add the sour cream and vanilla and continue to beat until everything’s combined. The mixture may look curdled. That’s okay.

Switch to a spatula and gently fold the flour mixture into the butter mixture until no flour streaks remain.

Scoop about 1/2 cup of the batter into a small bowl, add the blood orange marmalade, and stir until smooth.

Spoon about 2/3 of the plain batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with the spatula. Gently spoon the marmalade batter on top, spreading it to within 1/2 inch of the pan’s edge. Scrape the rest of the plain batter over the marmalade batter and smooth the top. Stick a table knife into the batter and, using the flat side, crisscross it back and forth to mix the layers together a bit.

Bake until the cake is domed and golden and a toothpick comes out clean, 60 to 70 minutes. If the cake begins browning too much, loosely cover the pan with foil, tented in the center so it doesn’t touch the surface of the cake.

Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool on a rack for 10 minutes.

Make the blood orange soaking syrup

While the cake is cooling, pour the 1/2 cup blood orange juice and the sugar into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, cooking until the sugar has completely dissolved, 5 to 8 minutes. Slide the pan off the heat.

Grasp the overhanging edges of parchment and carefully–lift the cake from the pan. Remove the paper and place the cake on the wire rack. Place a rimmed baking sheet beneath the wire rack.

Use a skewer to poke holes all over the top of the cake with a skewer. Brush the cake liberally with the soaking syrup, letting it seep in after each coating before adding more. This takes some time. Don’t even consider skimping and not using all the syrup. Let the cake cool completely.

Make the blood orange icing

When the cake has cooled, stir the 2 tablespoons blood orange juice into the confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Add another tablespoon of juice is the icing is too thick.

Ice the blood orange pound cake

Pour the icing over the cake, letting it drip down the sides. Let the icing on the cake set for 30 minutes before slicing and digging in. Originally published December 7, 2019.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

To say I'd make this again is an understatement. I already have! This dessert dances that line between pretty-enough-for-company and cozy-enough-for-just-me. The steps are easy, even enjoyable: rubbing fragrant zest into sugar; swirling in vanilla; marbling with gobs of marmalade-y batter. As you dutifully paint the poked, cooling loaf, prepare to be as shocked by the bloody hue of the orange syrup as you'll be by the impertinence of your housemates, lured by the citrus-butter haze, wheedling you for a corner or crumb (stay tuned). As perfect as the blush icing is in both consistency and hue, I found the finished cake slightly too sweet and next time I'd undersweeten the syrup, cutting the sugar by half.

My rebake spurred a certain spectator who watched in horror as I soaked the crunchy top in blood orange syrup. In reparation, I halved all the quantities (eggs halve if beaten, weighed, then half the weight poured off), subbed half the flour for whole wheat pastry flour, and used the zest of a navel, not blood, orange. This heavily adjusted recipe baked in 4 cups of a jumbo muffin tin until done, about 25 minutes. Though a different dessert, maybe described as a citrus teacake, with more balanced sweetness and a lovely interplay of citrus/butter/tang of sour cream, these crisp golden edges were met with delight, showcasing the versatility of this delicious recipe.

This gorgeous pastel jewel of a blood orange pound cake is bright, rich, and bursting with a sweet, tart, buttery tang. The deeply golden cake is speckled with blood orange zest and ribboned with marmalade batter and topped with a pink glaze that's alluring and irresistible. The scent, the flavors, the texture all beg you to taste it. The glaze crushes and melts on your tongue sweet and sharp while the cake is tightly crumbed and tender with crunchy edges. A balance of sweet decadence.

The blood orange syrup seeps into the buttery rich cake adding a layer of bright contrasting tang while the marmalade creates a bittersweet, creamy layer of intrigue. Supremely moist, beautiful and bursting with flavor, this is a decidedly craveable cake.


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  1. Lovely and beautiful! I found Blood Orange Marmalade on Amazon, @SarahBeth’s, and really loved the look and flavor of this cake. It is so (damn) delicious!! Love it, LOVE it. Growing up in SoCal and now living in Oregon for 35 years it is a breath of fresh, lively, and outstanding flavor! Thank you David and Renee for addicting me to Crack, aka Blood Orange Pound Cake! Yummmmmmm!

    1. Thanks, Sheila! We’re delighted that you love this as much as we do. Love the color of your cakes — you must have some stunning and very juicy blood oranges available to you.

  2. This was so good! The recipe is excellent. I recently discovered blood oranges and have been experimenting with them a lot. Thanks a lot 🙂

    1. You’re so very welcome, Sunanda! They are magnificent, aren’t they?! They come in varying types, but I especially love the ones that are a deep crimson color throughout and are barely acidic and with this intense and inexplicable flavor, as opposed to blood oranges with just some streaks of red throughout. Happy experimenting! My latest fix is sliced with red Belgian endive and almonds and a simple viniagrette. A little goat cheese can be nice. Curious to hear where your affinity lies…

  3. My second attempt at this cake turned out PERFECTLY because I followed directions. The first time, I had whole wheat flour so I decided to use it. Big mistake. My second attempt was successful due to the magic of All Purpose flour.

    I’m a Canadian, living just outside of Toronto, and I couldn’t find blood orange marmalade so I used the regular type (I felt the difference was negligible). Instead of pressing the sugar and zest between my fingers, I used the back of a soup spoon and pressed the zest against the side of a metal bowl. It worked very well.

    There is a part of the recipe that I think should be explained or possibly, edited. Swirling the marmalade/pound cake batter with a knife just doesn’t work. The batter is too thick for that maneuver! The photo on the site shows a perfectly straight line of marmalade, indicating that it was not swirled. Also, because I frosted my first, unsuccessful attempt, I felt that the frosting was too thick, so I added an extra tablespoon of the blood orange juice.

    Overall, a great recipe! I have added this to my recipe book so it definitely will be made again!

    Blood orange pound cake topped with icing and four slices of blood orange in an oval plate

    1. Ernestina, so happy you like the recipe.

      As to the swirling, I’ve clear it up in the recipe. It’s really just passing the flat part of the knife back and forth so that there isn’t a perfectly straight line, otherwise, the cake will split along the marmalade line. You’ll see that there are hills and valleys to the marmalade in the photo. That’s what I was going for.

      Also, I’ve added the direction of using more juice if needed for the icing to make it pourable.

  4. Blood oranges are my absolute favorite fruit so when they’re in season I stock up and look for an many things as possible to cook with them. This Blood Orange Pound Cake was perfect. The recipe was easy to follow and it came out fantastic! I loved the icing on top of the blood orange syrup that soaked into the top. It was the perfect infusion of blood orange flavoring without being over powering. I am definitely putting this one in my recipe book for future dinner parties, holidays, etc.

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