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Homemade Starbucks Orange Cake

gluten free homemade starbucks orange cake

During the last month Gluten Free Orange Cake has received a lot of play. And it’s certainly not because this tasty dessert is on my site.  Starbucks recently launched a classic Gluten Free Valencia Orange Cake to much fanfare from the gluten-free community.

A couple  of weeks ago I received this fabulous comment from LeAnne on my original Orange Cake post:

Elana – have you tried the new Starbucks Gluten Free Valencia Orange Cake? It’s a copycat of your recipe. in a muffin form with sliced almonds and an orange syrup on top. All in an individual wrapper. Truly fabulous! They should re-name it Elana’s Gluten Free Valencia Orange Cake! So nice to have a gluten free alternative at Starbucks.”

Actually this cake was created by Claudia Roden; she called it Gateau a l’Orange, and it was made popular by Nigella Lawson. Nigella’s version was made with clementines, instead of oranges.

Homemade Starbucks Orange Cake

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  1. Wash the oranges and boil them whole (peel and all) for 1 ½ hours, or until soft
  2. Place whole oranges (peel and all) in a food processor and blend until smooth
  3. Process in eggs, agave, almond flour, salt and baking soda until well blended
  4. Pour batter into a greased 9 inch cake pan
  5. Bake at 375° for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean
  6. Cool in the pan for 2 hours
  7. Serve

Serves 6-8

I hope you enjoy this DIY version of Starbucks Gluten Free Valencia Orange Cake.


posted on May 26, 2009, 80 comments

  1. Tomiko

    Hi Elana,

    I’ve been reading your blog for almost two years, but this is my first time leaving a comment.

    My celiac boyfriend tried the Starbucks orange cake a few weeks ago and liked it, but one thing we noticed was that when he split the cake in half, there were all these gooey “strings” that looked almost like a spider web… He said/hoped(!) it was probably the extra sticky honey used in the cake, but I was a little concerned. In the end, he enjoyed the cake very much and didn’t get sick, so I kinda forgot about it until I read your post today. Have you tried the cake and had the same experience?

    Even though I’ve tried many of your recipes and both my boyfriend and I loved them, I have yet to try any of your dessert recipe since I’m not a good baker. But I might give this one a try. If he liked the Starbucks cake, he has to like yours even more!

  2. This cake looks really yummy! I haven’t tried the Starbucks cake–I actually haven’t seen it yet. Unfortunately, I am discovering that nuts are a REAL problem for me. I was just wondering if you think it is possible to remain grain free–lower carb without any nuts? Nuts seem to be a main staple for grain free eating so I am pretty bummed about having to cut them out! I love your blog and appreciate all your yummy looking recipes–even if I can’t eat them all:)

    • Kimberly, I think it’s very possible to be grain-free and nut-free. Every few months I give up both nuts and agave for a week or so to give my body a rest, so I know it’s doable short term, not sure how challenging it will be long term though…

      • Ashley

        Hey Elana –

        Love this comment because I am always curious to know more about your own personal lifestyle tricks and tips. I know you’ve said that a lot of the sweets on this site are for the benefit of kids and husbands, but as a woman things are always a bit different aren’t they?

        Would love to know more about how you incorporate these foods into your own personal wellness routines and what additional things have made the biggest difference to you!

        Thank you for your hard work!

  3. Forgot to tell you that I made your ‘un’potato salad for Memorial Day and it was a big hit! Thanks:)

  4. Meagan from Mutritious Nuffins @ mutritiousnuffins.blogspot.com

    Oooh, this looks good! I have been craving some good orange thing lately, this might just be perfect!

  5. Elana,

    Boy, I must be living in the dark or something! I had not heard about this! It reminds me of this evening -my husband and I went to rent a DVD for after the girls go to sleep tonight -I could have spent all night in there -I had never heard of any of the movies on the new release walls! We ended up getting an old movie! Blaaa!

    I will make your cake for sure!

    Love, Kelly
    theSpunkyCoconut.com

  6. Joelle

    OK…why couldn’t Starbucks have come out with this when I was still eating that kind of stuff…AND oh I cannot wait to try this version…Elana, you’re killing me = )

  7. Kim

    I have to say that I have tried the Starbucks cake & was not very impressed. I applaud their effort at offering a GF alternative, but since it contains (refined) sugar it affects my blood sugar & is not really a doable option for me. I haven’t tried your version yet, but since it utilizes the peel of the orange as well, I’m sure that the flavor will be much better. It looks amazing, so I can’t wait to try it! I made your brownies this weekend & my family absolutely loved them. I also made your BBQ sauce & we did chicken on the grill – it was so yummy. Thanks so much for the great recipes – can’t wait to try more! I think the Vegan Vanilla Ice Cream might be next! :)

  8. Dr. Nishant Rao @ wellwire.com

    Sooo much better than the Starkbucks one! Amazing what you have managed to do with almond flour.

    Elana, we’re really looking forward to cross writing with you on http://www.wellwire.com

    -Dr. Nishant

  9. carrie @ gingerlemongirl.com @ gingerlemongirl.com

    To TOMIKO — The stringyness of the starbucks cake means that it was sitting on the counter too long. Next time ask for a fresh cake from the freezer and let it defrost for about 15 minutes, it’s a completely different taste!!

    The cakes at Starbucks can go bad when sitting on the counter VERY quickly!! I always ask for a frozen one because I had the same experience of a stringy (and even moldy smelling) cake the first time I had one and it was AWFUL… the fresh frozen cakes are MUCH better!! No strings!!

    I can’t wait to try Elana’s original!!

  10. Silvia

    Elana, do you know anything about Agave Nectar being bad for you? http://www.naturalnews.com/024892.html

    Agave nectar is advertised as a “diabetic friendly,” raw, and a “100% natural sweetener.” Yet it is none of these. The purpose of this article is to show you that agave nectar is in reality not a natural sweetener but a highly refined form of fructose, more concentrated than the high fructose corn syrup used in sodas. Refined fructose is not a ‘natural’ sugar, and countless studies implicate it as a sweetener that will contribute to disease. Therefore, agave nectar is not a health building product, but rather a deceptively marketed form of a highly processed and refined sweetener.

    I had bought some and am now not sure I need to keep using it.

    Thanks for your help.

    Silvia

  11. Diane-Thewholegang @ thewholegang.org

    This is so exciting! I can’t eat Starbucks because of the rice flour but I did have a taste and it was really good. I am getting out the baking pan on this one for sure. I hope I have the right kind of almond flour.

  12. Looks delicious! I’m excited to try it b/c it also looks very easy by putting it all in the food processer. Too many bowls and my toddler wants to help and we have a huge mess and a time-consuming recipe turns into a marathon! Will have to make for Father’s day…maybe add some chocolate chips?
    Thanks!

  13. Chrissy

    To Ann about the chocolate chips… I made Elana’s recipe once and put it in muffin liners and then once they were done, sat a square of dark chocolate on each one to melt – then I smooshed it all around and stuck them in the fridge. They were WONDERFUL!!

  14. Ali (Whole Life Nutrition) @ glutenfreewholefoods.blogspot.com

    Looks divine! I can only imagine the flavor. I have heard of the Starbucks cake but not tried it – we are not coffee drinkers so rarely go into a coffee house. -Ali :)

  15. Jenny

    Hi Elana, I’m new to the site but I already visit it daily! :) I am wondering if you’ve ever experimented with date sugar? I have read interesting things, but I was thinking it would mess up the liquid/dry ratio (at least I think it would!) Just wondering if you’ve ever tried using it. Thanks for all the amazing recipes – this is by far the BEST blog I’ve come across that uses only the ingredients I want to use and it is so simple. No using odd starches, flours, gums to create dishes – I am so grateful for your creativity! I could go on and on..

  16. Kimi @ The Nourishing Gourmet @ thenourishinggourmet.com

    I love the light in your photo. Your cake looks absolutely divine. :-) Yummy!

  17. Meghan (Making Love In The Kitchen @ meghantelpnerblog.com

    As soon as I saw the photo I was thinking- she totally did this without grain flour… and of course you did. How wonderful!

  18. I just posted my gluten free orange cake recipe the other day too! It’s a lot the same, except you don’t have to boil the oranges! And you use whole raw almonds. I like to make it with one orange and one lime. Yum!

  19. I would take this over the Starbucks one anyday!!

    Just wanted to say I love the little almond heart on the header. Cute!!

  20. Lori

    I made this last year for a family get together.
    Was making it more for my diabetic mom to reduce the carbs with the almond flour. Was a great hit. My husband thought it strange to boil the oranges peel and all and put thru food processor.
    He like the end result though and had several pieces.

  21. Tracy

    Hi Elana,

    Twinkies look fabulous!!! What the heck are the “strings” that are on the orange cake from starbucks when you pull it apart??? At first I thought is was a hair, but it kept happening. I think it must be the orarnge marmalade, pretty freqky and wierd, but good. Not very sweet, as I have an enormous sweet tooth. I am going to try to make yours with the rice flour combo. Thanks so much for your site and the beautiful pictures. Yummy!!! Tracy

  22. Hi Elana!

    I went to get almond meal flour to make your cake, and they didn’t have it, so (being an impatient person) I made something a little different. Let me know what you think!

    http://spunkyfamilyjournal.blogspot.com/2009/05/orange-pie-tea-party.html

    Love, Kelly

  23. Stacie K

    I ran out to starbucks yesterday and tried their GF orange cake. It was tasty-moist, and without stringy things, thankfully:} However, I am trying to not use rice flour at all, so I came home and made this recipe. It smelled and looked divine, but mine had a bitter aftertaste. Does anyone have any ideas what might have happened? Thanks!!

  24. SERIOUSLY delicious cake Elana!! And I really think it’s better than Starbucks!! Tastes similar, but I just absolutely loved being able to make it at home! I’ve never boiled oranges to make a cake before, but what a great trick! I LOVE the beautiful orange flavor in this cake!! Perfect!! Simply perfect!! Thank you!!

  25. I just made this cake, but used 3 lemons instead of two oranges to make a lemon version instead (because lemons are smaller)- the recipe is great, and substituting the lemons for the oranges worked really well! The gf members of my fam send their thanks to you for creating such a tasty recipe!

  26. Thanks for your great comments everyone, I so appreciate them. I just wanted to highlight the following 3 comments that you may want to look back at for tips:

    1) Carrie from Gingerlemongirl, gives great advice on how to purchase a good fresh piece of this cake if you are at Starbucks.

    2) Ann has the amazing idea of adding chocolate chips to this recipe, which I am looking forward to trying myself.

    3) Jenn made this cake using lemons in place of the oranges –YUM.

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts, ideas and results over here!

    xo Elana

  27. Jennifer

    I made this tonight and the flavor was wonderful but the aftertaste was very bitter. What did I do wrong?

  28. johanna

    This cake is FABULOUS!!!! Made to take over to friends for dessert and everyone LOVED it!! They also came up with the great idea to add chocolate frosting–it was even better! Tastes like those orange-chocolate balls that come out around the holidays. Simply fabulous and definitely a keeper!!!

  29. Megan

    I was so excited to find this recipe (since Starbucks no longer makes the Orange Valencia Cake, they have replaced it with a less than desireable snack bar). I used four clementines instead of oranges, since they are in great supply this time of year, and found this to be a fantastic desert. I can’t give you enough thanks for this, my family and I absolutely love the orange cake. It doesn’t even need to be frosted, it is just that perfect.

  30. Kelli

    I just made this cake and found it to be so moist inside, it had an almost cheesecake-y texture…. maybe because the oranges I used were quite large so they added alot of moisture. It was really great. This is our new favorite!

  31. sue

    I have not been able to find the Starbucks Orange Cake and emailed them. To my dismay they discontinued it. I found it so convenient when traveling!!

  32. Jazz

    Hey,

    I was just wondering if anyone knows if this recipe would work with apples instead of oranges. Has anyone tried using other fruit?

  33. OMG! This cake is amazing! I substituted 3 blood oranges (they were quite small) for valencia…stellar! It’s been a quite a hit with family and friends! I’ve also served it drizzled with blueberry syrup…nummy!

  34. Stacy

    We love this cake. I am going to try to make it with lemons and poppyseeds. Will let you know how it turns out.

  35. Elizabeth

    Elana,

    I made this scrumptious dessert last night. I did’t have 2 oranges so I used 1 orange, 1/2 lemon and lime. My picky husband who rarely eats gluten free with me and kids even tasted it. This website has made gluten free cooking in our house much less of a chore.

    Thanks Elana,

    Elizabeth J.

  36. Suzi

    Hi Elana,

    Hoping you can help…I tried to make the starbucks cake last night..and..after 50 minutes still ‘wet’ inside..cooked for another 25 minutes and it was still wet..I have double checked the ingredients..everything I have made from your site as been perfect, so, I know this is me and not you ha ha..not sure if you can think of any reason why it wouldn’t work? Just want to come up with some ideas before I try again (I promised my work mates I would make this cake!)

    Thanks for bringing the yummy food back into my home!! (my husband and child thank you too!)

    Suzi
    x

  37. Anna

    I made the cake with 2 valencia oranges (with seeds – just pureed everything). I substituted 1 cup of maple syrup for the agave, and added some cinnamon (maybe 1 tsp), and it was yummy! Boiling the oranges also made my house smell wonderful.

  38. As it is summer and travel season, I am missing that easy to grab cake and I look forward to making this version! I would make it right now, if only I had some citrus in the house!
    Thanks, again :)

    Laura

  39. yasmin leon

    your stuff is delousus!!!!!!!!!i love it yummy!!!!!

  40. Jessica Espinoza @ deliciousobsessions.com

    This cake was amazing! Pair it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a cup of coffee and you have the perfect dessert!

  41. Patty

    Hi Elana,
    Just came across your website while spending hours on healthyindulgences.blogspot.com, where Lauren had a link for you.
    I am absolutely blown away with your site! I will be spending hours here as well, in fact, I have oranges from my orange tree, (I live in AZ), boiling right now in preperation to make this lovely orange cake!
    I don’t practice a GF lifestle but do practice a low carb, natural diet. These recipies work so well for me and they are printable!!!! I don’t have any blanched almond flour in the house right now but will use unblanched almond flour this time. I predict a more dense, heavy, not as pretty cake but we’ll see, just hope it works…if not, my bad!
    Mostly I want to thank you for all of the hard you have put into this website, obviously a labor of love and so fun to explore! Kudos to you Elana! Patty

  42. Patty

    Hi Elana,
    Well just checked out your FAQ page and I’m off to the store to buy blanched almond flour…it’s not to late as the oranges are still boiling. Thanks again! Patty

  43. sarah

    I made this recipe along with 3 other recipes today in a baking frenzy and this one wins. It’s amazing. Thank you so much Elana for all the sharing you do. You have a very positive effect on me and my families lives.

  44. chrissy

    I just made this cake and it was bitter, is two oranges too many?

  45. Elaine Van Volkingburgh

    I made this cake for a dessert night where I knew there would be nothing to eat GF. It was a hit! I actually made two cakes but only used one orange for each cake since my oranges were not the small Valencia ones. Two larger oranges would likey make one cake too bitter. I melted organic chocolate chips and spread them on top and decorated each piece with a Terry’s orange chocolate slice. A real keeper! Thanks Elana.

  46. Cheryl

    Because all oranges are not created equally sized, can you tell me how much “whirled orange” do you end up with?
    Thanks!

  47. Melissa

    I made this today using 3 clementines, and bakers sugar because I can’t have agave due to the fructose content. Made with regular sugar, I can tolerate a very small amount. I also took the peel off one of the clementines since some of the reviews said there had been an issue with bitterness. It did cook slightly faster than the cook time listed, probably because of removing the agave? But it got rave reviews from everyone who has tried it. It is very moist. I’m going to try making it with the lemon substitution suggested in the comments above. Definitely looking forward to trying more almond flour recipes!

  48. Deborah

    I will be trying this recipe for myself if I can find the almond flour in the shops here in the UK. I do not buy foodstuffs online. Once I have made gluten free/wheat free items and they have cooled, I slice them up and freeze them. That way they have no chance to go mouldy and they last longer as I tend to forget about them when they are out of sight.

  49. Jennifer @ facebook

    I used tangelos (came with my weekly farmer’s market vegetable subscription), did half agave/local honey (I ran out of agave), broke my roommate’s blender, and added a cream cheese frosting on top. Snapped a pic, slapped it on FB, and everybody is raving about how simple and delicious this recipe looks. I hope they all try it because not only is it simple, it is so moist, melt in your mouth, guilt-free, and DELICIOUS. “Eat Cake for Breakfast” -Kate Spade. I think I will

  50. nutbrownmama

    I loved this recipe. I changed it up a bit. I didn’t have agave so I used sugar (equal amounts). I also used a 8×8″ square pan. The next morning we had a little left over. I pan fried it up in a small amount of butter and it was a near miss to french toast! Next time I might actually make this cake just for this reason. I think I will add about a third of the sugar (b/c the maple syrup will make it plenty sweet) and I may play around with additional almond flour to make it a little less wet once backed. With those small changes I think I will have a great GF breakfast my whole family will love! Thanks for providing us with this great recipe. It is sites like this that make it easier to share food with my family despite my restrictive diet!

  51. Jazmin

    Hi Elana,

    This recipe sounds very interesting, I can’t wait to try. I just have a question, does the type of orange affect the recipe? some types have thicker peel than others. Any recommendation?

    Thanks

  52. Cookie

    Hello Elena!

    As someone with Celiac Disease who also can’t eat dairy and doesn’t digest grains well, I feel SO grateful to have found your website!

    I made your Homemade Starbucks Orange Cake last night— WOW!!! So simple and easy to make and yet it’s one of the best cakes I have ever eaten. Really! Flavorful and moist with just the right amount of sweetness! I’m going to get some vegan whipped topping and serve it for dessert tonight. YUMMMMMM!

    Thank you!!!

  53. Abbi

    Do you think this would still be good with chocolate frosting? I’m trying to find a recipe for an orange cake with chocolate frosting but haven’t found anything. I need it for a Father’s day lunch.

  54. Cass

    Another home run! I was thinking about making an orange and honey glaze for the top of this and I am glad I decided to wait. It is so moist and delicious and I love that it isn’t overly sweet.

  55. I made your Starbucks Orange Cake, using Honey instead of Agave and topped it with coconut whipped cream. It is such a winner! I will be making it again for one of my Thanksgiving Desserts! Thank you, love your site.

  56. Paula Goldbeck

    Elena, I’ve enjoyed making your recipes! Did you know that agave, even organic agave, is worse than high fructose corn syrup? You might not believe it, so Google it and check it out. It was so disappointing when I discovered this.

  57. Deborah Wilson

    I have no idea what Valencia oranges are like. I too am wondering what size to use. Should I use a tangerine size? I have 2 very large navel oranges, so I’m thinking I’ll just use one. However the skin looks thick. Not having measured quantities, whether by weight or volume really throws me. Almond flour is expensive and I hate the thought of messing it up.

    • Deborah Wilson

      I used one large Navel orange and after it was cooked, rinsed it well in hot water like another poster suggested.
      All I had was Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour and so I put that through my Secura spice grinder for a few seconds to make it less coarse.
      The cake is not at all bitter–it’s delicous! It’s a little on the wet side as I still think the orange was too large. Next time, I’ll use two much smaller oranges.
      Another fantastic recipe, Elana–thanks so much!!!!

  58. Zoe Eller

    On the Starbucks Orange Cake, I was surprised to see the whole orange being used, never did that before, want to try it but just a question, is the peel safe to eat? and what about the seeds? all good to eat? Just asking I really don ‘t know. Growing up my Mom used the Orange Peel to dry it out and use it for tea flavor only, she said that it was not to eat couldn’t digest it. Let me know . Thanks!
    Zoe

  59. Kim

    Did anyone else have excessive browning on top? I wanted to like it but it was bitter

  60. nadia

    made it last week, loved it and very easy to make, thanks for the recipe.

  61. teeky

    I wish I could pin all of your recipes. Most of them, like this one, tell me I need an image to pin. I see the images here, but when I hit the pin link, they don’t transfer over. alas. perhaps I’m a pinterest dolt. :)

  62. SimplySharon

    Since 2009, there were so many good comments. I haven’t read them all but want to. I just stumbled over this recipe recently and just had to try it. My husband is diabetic so this
    was tricky. I have both almond meal and almond flour but used the meal and it came out good, wanting to make again for a luncheon on Tuesday. Notice, there are no fats added,unless it’s in the orange peel. The orange made the carbs/sugar very high for my diabetic husband so for the honey, I used honey free honey. It turned out very moist and no strings. It is very rich so I cut the 8 pieces twice more for 16 servings and had vanilla ice cream with it. For the Tuesday luncheon, I wlll bake only 35-40 min. The first one got a little too brown around the edges. Probably my oven is hotter. thanks for a wonderful gluten free recipe, although my husband and I aren’t GF but many of the GF recipes work for diabetics. Just have to tweek sometimes. But almond meal/flour is GF anyway. Made
    a Applesauce Snack Cake recently from a GF cookbook of a friends. Used GF flour.

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Comments are greatly appreciated! Unfortunately Elana is not able to answer substitution questions, as the only way to know if something works is to test it, and she does not provide this service. If you have a substitution question, please don't hesitate to leave a comment here, and another reader may jump in to answer. ↑ back to top