This Orange Pomander Cake is directly inspired by pomander balls. It’s an easy to put together loaf cake that is fragrant with fresh orange juice and zest, as well as plenty of spicy ground cloves. The loaf is topped with an orange and clove glaze that adds an extra layer of sugar and spice, tying everything together perfectly.
Orange Pomander balls are one of my favorite crafty things to make around the holidays. They are made by studding oranges with whole cloves, releasing both the bright zest of the citrus and the warm spiciness of the cloves. They smell amazing and can be used to both decorate and freshen a room. These two ingredients are often used in holiday baking, as well, so the smells of the pomanders are linked to the smells of Christmas for me – even though you can certainly enjoy the scented oranges themselves all year round.
Since oranges are a primary component of this cake, it’s important that you stick with fresh fruit. Fresh oranges have a nice acidity that you won’t find in refrigerated orange juice, and it really makes this cake pop. Plus, you’ll want to use the fresh orange zest for maximum orange flavor.
I really enjoy this cake with the glaze, although you can skip it if you prefer to. This is an excellent bake to make for holiday brunches or desserts. I have served it up both ways with many requests for seconds. It’s such a simply cake to put together, it’s almost surprising how much flavor you’ll find in each bite!
Pomander Orange Cake
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
2 tbsp orange zest
1/2 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, ground cloves and salt.
Add in egg, orange zest, orange juice, buttermilk and vanilla extract and whisk until well-combined. Add in melted butter and whisk until batter is smooth. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs attached. Allow loaf to cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before turning it out and allowing it to cool completely on a wire rack. Drizzle with pomander glaze.
Makes 1 loaf; serves 10.
Pomander Orange Glaze
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp orange zest
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tbsp butter, room temperature
In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients until smooth. If needed, whisk in a few additional tablespoonfuls of confectioners’ sugar to thicken. Drizzle onto cooled cake.