This recipe for Orange Sheet Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting is a delicious, quick, and simple dessert. It’s made with just a few simple ingredients that you probably already have on hand, and it yields a subtle orange flavor and a moist, tender crumb. Each bite is delicious, featuring a texture similar to that of an orange pound cake. It is topped with a creamy orange frosting that enhances the refreshing citrus flavor.
- What is Orange Sheet Cake?
- Why we love this Orange Sheet Cake:
- Orange Sheet Cake Ingredients
- Tools you’ll need
- How to Make Orange Sheet Cake
- How to Make Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
- How to Serve
- How to Store & Re-Heat
- Make Ahead
- How to Freeze
- Tips for Making The Best Orange Sheet Cake
- Related Recipes:
- Watch How to Make Orange Sheet Cake
- 📖 Recipe
This orange sheet cake is best prepared with fresh oranges, using fresh citrus, like in my lemon bundt cake lemon poppy seed bundt cake; it helps the flavor stand out in every bite, so it is essential to use the amount of orange zest specified in the recipe, as it is from this source that the prominent orange flavor comes.
I’ll be posting an Orange Sheet Cake recipe soon that doesn’t call for buttermilk and uses only fresh orange juice and zest, which I’m sure you’ll enjoy just as much as this one-Quick tip: Pre-zest the oranges before juicing them.
What is Orange Sheet Cake?
Orange Sheet Cake is a delicious, moist cake with fresh orange juice and orange zest. It is typically baked in a sheet pan and then topped with a creamy and tangy cream cheese frosting flavored with orange juice and zest. The cake has a fluffy texture and a bright citrus flavor that is perfect for all occasions, from birthdays to potlucks to holiday gatherings.
The combination of the orange cake and cream cheese frosting creates a wonderful balance of sweetness and tanginess that will surely please your taste buds.
Why we love this Orange Sheet Cake:
- Bursting with orange flavor.
- Light & Fluffy.
- Moist & Tender.
- Topped with Orange Cream Cheese.
- Easy to make.
- Bright & Refreshing
Orange Sheet Cake Ingredients
Note: The full ingredients list is provided in the recipe card below.
- Flour: All-purpose flour, sifted.
- Sugar: It adds moisture and makes the crumb more tender and softer.
- Cornstarch: It helps make a cake more tender.
- Baking soda & Baking Powder: For leavening.
- Butter: Unsalted Butter. (I use Smart Balance Original Butter Spread).
- Eggs: It provides structure, moisture, and richness.
- Fresh Orange: It gives the pound cake a fresh Orangy flavor and aids in activating the baking soda, giving the cake an extra lift.
- Orange Zest: To enhance the orange flavor. It takes some time to zest the oranges, but it’s necessary. It makes a HUGE difference in taste.
- Kosher salt: To bring out the flavors of the rest of the ingredients
- Powdered sugar: To make the Orange Glaze.
- Flavor Enhancer: Pure vanilla extract can be used instead of clear vanilla. I love using this Clear Vanilla; the scent is nostalgic and comforting.
- Buttermilk: It adds body and a softer texture to the cake. (See Notes for Buttermilk substitution).
Tools you’ll need
- Stand Mixer or Hand Mixer
- (1) 9 by 13 nonstick sheet cake pan
- Silicone Spatula
- Mitten Oven
- Liquid Measuring Cups
- Dry Measuring Cups
- Fine-mesh strainer
💡Camila Made Tip: If you’re a vanilla fanatic like me, I highly recommend purchasing this gallon of clear vanilla and throwing in some vanilla beans. I added a whole bunch to mine to make it more concentrated. Then, keep it in your pantry for when you need it. This delicious vanilla bean blend is perfect for any sweets, such as cake, cookies, and so on; when you run out, buy another gallon and refill it.
This homemade vanilla bean extract or flavoring, whatever you want to call it, can be made with vodka instead of clear vanilla, and let it concentrate for 3 to 6 months before use. I like to use clear vanilla so I can use it right away.
How to Make Orange Sheet Cake
Note: The full instructions are provided in the recipe card below.
Adjust the oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9 by 13-inch pan or spray with Baking Spray with flour. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cornstarch in a large bowl; set aside. In the stand mixer bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg and scraping down the sides of the bowl.
Combine 1/4 cup of the orange juice, zest, vanilla, and buttermilk in a two-cup liquid measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture in thirds, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and give a quick mix to be sure the batter is well incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or skewer inserted in the center comes out clean and the edges start pulling away from the pan’s sides. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a rack and cool completely.
How to Make Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand-held electric mixer in a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and butter on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high, and mix until just combined about 5 minutes.
Occasionally turn the mixer off and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula; don’t whip! Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Add the orange juice, vanilla extract, Grand Manier, and orange zest, raise the speed to high, and mix briefly until smooth, scraping down the bowl occasionally.
Spread the orange cream cheese frosting evenly on the cooled orange sheet cake using an offset spatula.
- Buttermilk: Feel free to substitute the buttermilk for this homemade buttermilk.
- Cream Cheese: Regular cream cheese can be substituted for Neufchatel cheese.
- Any citrus fruit, including grapefruit, lemon, mandarin, and lime, will work in this Orange sheet Cake recipe.
- Flavor Enhancer: You can use pure vanilla extract instead of clear vanilla.
Check out this Vanilla Sheet Cake version of this recipe on my website!
- Lemon Sheet Cake: Swap the orange juice and zest for lemon juice and zest to make a lemon sheet cake. You can also use the same cream cheese frosting recipe and swap the orange juice and zest for lemon juice and zest.
- Blood Orange Sheet Cake: Use blood oranges instead of regular oranges to add a deeper, richer citrus flavor to your cake.
- Orange-Almond Sheet Cake: Add 1/2 cup of ground almonds to the cake batter and replace the vanilla extract with almond extract for an Orange-Almond Sheet Cake.
- Orange-Cranberry Sheet Cake: Add 1 cup of fresh cranberries to the cake batter for an Orange-Cranberry Sheet Cake. The cranberries’ tartness will balance the cake’s sweetness and frosting.
- Orange-Ginger Sheet Cake: Add 1 tablespoon of grated ginger to the cake batter and swap the vanilla extract for 1 tablespoon of ground ginger to create an Orange-Ginger Sheet Cake. You can add some finely chopped crystallized ginger to the frosting for extra flavor and texture.
How to Serve
Orange sheet cake with cream cheese frosting could be served as a dessert or sweet snack with tea or coffee. Cut the cake into squares and serve it on a platter or individual plates. You can also decorate the top of the cake with extra orange zest or slices for an extra pop of color and flavor. This cake can be stored in a container in the fridge for 4 days, but it’s best enjoyed fresh.
Whether you serve it at a family gathering, a potluck, or a birthday party, this orange sheet cake will impress everyone with its bright citrus flavor and creamy frosting.
How to Store & Re-Heat
To store the orange sheet cake with orange cream cheese frosting, allow the cake to cool completely, and then cover it tightly with plastic wrap or transfer it to an airtight container. Store the cake in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Before serving, allow the cake to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes.
To reheat the cake, place a slice or two on a microwave-safe plate and microwave it for about 15-20 seconds or until slightly warm. You can also reheat the cake in the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C), wrap the cake in aluminum foil, and bake for about 10-15 minutes or until heated through. Remember, overcooking the cake may cause it to dry out, so keep a close eye on it while reheating.
Orange Cream Cheese Frosting can be made ahead if refrigerated as quickly as possible, in an airtight container, for up to 5 days. Stir before using. The Orange Sheet Cake can be refrigerated, loosely covered with cling film, for up to 5 days.
How to Freeze
Freeze the Orange Sheet Cake without the frosting for up to 3 months. Wrap the cake in clingfilm twice and foil once. To defrost, unwrap and defrost for about 5 to 8 hours at room temperature on a wire rack—Frost before serving.
Tips for Making The Best Orange Sheet Cake
Follow the Recipe: Follow the Orange Sheet Cake recipe instructions as stated.
- Measure Properly: Measure the flour by spooning it into the measuring cup, then level it with the back of a knife or use the weight measurements. I use a 240 ml Dry Measuring cup (every cup is 125g of flour).
- Use room temperature ingredients: Ensure all your ingredients are at room temperature (this helps ensure everything gets incorporated properly; not doing this can result in poor emulsification).
- Butter and Flour the Pan: Butter a 9 by 13-inch pan, add a few tablespoons of flour, then shake, turn, and tap the pan so that the flour lightly and evenly coats the bottom and sides. Finally, tap excess flour out of the buttered and floured pans.
- Sift Dry Ingredients: Sift dry ingredients like flour and leavenings but not sugar to combine and aerate, making a fluffier cake. Then, place it in a fine-mesh strainer over a piece of parchment paper, and shake the strainer until everything’s on the paper: When it’s time to add, pick up the paper and let the ingredients slide out into the mixing bowl. However, whisk the dry ingredients for 30 seconds to combine if you don’t have one.
- Beat in Eggs: Add the eggs one at a time, ensuring they emulsify or blend completely with the butter mixture. Then, if desired, flavor with vanilla extract or other flavorings. It’s easier to incorporate eggs that are at room temperature. To get the eggs to warm up faster. For a few minutes, place them in a bowl of warm water.
- Alternate the Wet and Dry Ingredients: Often, a recipe calls for adding wet and dry ingredients in alternating batches. This helps prevent the gluten in the flour from developing too much, which causes heavier and not-so-fluffy cake. Also, do not overmix — overworking the flour makes for tough results.
- Pour Cake batter into prepared pan: Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
- Bake and Test for Doneness: Insert a wooden skewer or a toothpick into the center of the orange sheet cake and see if it comes out clean; if it does, the cake is done. You may also notice the cake pulling away from the pan’s sides and feel a slight spring back when you lightly press on the top.
- Cool the cake: Remove the cake from the oven and cool them in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Then, using a knife, go around the outside of the cake; place a rack upside down over the top of each cake pan, and invert the cake onto the rack.
- Slice and Serve: Spoon the orange frosting over the orange sheet cake and allow to set for 20 minutes in the refrigerator before slicing.
Can you Freeze the Orange Sheet Cake?
You can freeze the Orange Sheet Cake for up to 3 months without Cream Cheese. Wrap the cake in clingfilm twice and foil once. To defrost, unwrap and defrost for about 5 to 8 hours at room temperature on a wire rack—Frost before serving.
Does it need exactly need orange, or can other citrus work?
Instead of oranges, you can use any citrus fruit, such as grapefruit, lemon, mandarin, or lime.
How Can I Make it More Tender?
One of the secrets to a tender orange sheet cake is to sift the flour; the more sifted the flour, the more delicate the texture.
Can I Substitute the buttermilk?
Yes, feel free to substitute the buttermilk for this homemade buttermilk.
What is the secret to making moist orange sheet cake?
You can do a few things to ensure your orange sheet cake is moist and delicious. First, before mixing the batter, be sure to preheat your oven; this will help the cake cook more evenly and prevent it from drying. Second, don’t overmix the batter – overmixing can result in a tough, dry cake. And finally, use a combination of light or brown sugar and granulated sugar for moisture, depth of flavor, and crisp top.
How do you freeze orange sheet cake after baking?
Double wrap completely cooled orange sheet cake with aluminum foil or plastic freezer wrap and place them in a heavy-duty bag—thaw overnight on the countertop.
- How to Make Homemade Buttermilk: add 4 teaspoons of fresh lemon, lime, or white distilled vinegar to a glass measuring cup, and add enough milk to make 1 cup of total liquid; stir to combine and let stand for 5 minutes (the mixture will begin to curdle). Then, use as stated in the recipe.
- Add 1 to 4 tablespoons of milk or evaporated milk for thinner frosting.
- Cover and refrigerate any leftovers for up to 5 days, bringing the orange sheet cake back to room temperature before serving.
- For a glossy appearance, add 1 tablespoon of light corn syrup.
- Don’t overdo it when it comes to mixing; mix until just combined.
- This orange sheet cake recipe can also be used to make 24 cupcakes (baking time should be between 25 and 30 minutes), two 9″ round cakes (30 and 35 minutes), or a 13″ x 18″ half sheet pan cake ( 20 and 25 minutes)
- Orange Flan
- Red Velvet Cupcake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
- Orange Honey Butter
- Orange Churros with Spiced Hot Chocolate
- Homemade Orange Doughnuts “Bollos de Naranja”
- Classic Orange Cranberry Muffins
Watch How to Make Orange Sheet Cake
How to Make Orange Sheet Cake
For the Orange Cake:
- 343.75 g ( 2 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
- 30 g (1/4 cup) cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed Orange juice , about 1 to 2 large Oranges
- 1 cup buttermilk , shaken or sour milk (see notes)
- 226 g (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 400 g (2 cups) granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs , at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup grated Orange zest , loosely packed (5 to 6 large Oranges)
- Butter and flour the pan or use baking nonstick spray
For the Orange Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 226 g (8 oz) full-fat cream cheese, softened
- 248 g (2 cups) sifted confectioners’ sugar
- 113 g (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 15 ml (1 tablespoon) fresh orange juice
- 15 ml (1 tablespoon) Grand Marnier or Clear vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
- Adjust the oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9 by 13-inch pan or spray with Baking Spray with flour. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cornstarch in a large bowl; set aside.
- In the stand mixer bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg and scraping down the sides of the bowl. In a two-cup liquid measuring cup, combine 1/4 cup of the orange juice, zest, vanilla, and buttermilk. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture in thirds, beginning and ending with the flour.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and give a quick mix to be sure the batter is well incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or skewer inserted in the center comes out clean and the edges start pulling away from the pan's sides. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a rack and cool completely.
How to Make Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
- In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand-held electric mixer in a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and butter on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high, and mix until just combined, about 5 minutes.
- Occasionally turn the mixer off and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula; don’t whip! Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Add the orange juice, vanilla extract, Grand Manier, and orange zest, raise the speed to high, and mix briefly until smooth, scraping down the bowl occasionally.
- Spread the orange cream cheese frosting evenly on the cooled orange sheet cake using an offset spatula.
All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.