To Make Orange Loaves

A totally different approach to cake and fruit. Sugary and rich, this recipe reverses the practice of mixing candied fruit into cake, instead putting cake into candied fruit.

18th Century

Take your orange, and cut a round hole in the top, take out all the meat, and as much of the white as you can, without breaking the skin; then boil them in water till tender, shifting the water till it is not bitter, then take them up and wipe them dry; then take a pound of fine sugar, a quart of water (or in proportion to the oranges), boil it, and take off the scum as it rises; then put in your oranges, and let them boil a little, and let them lie a day or two in the syrup; take the yolks of two eggs, a quarter of a pint of cream (or more), beat them well together, then grate in two Naples biscuits, or white bread, a quarter of a pound of butter, and four spoonfuls of sack; mix it altogether till your butter is melted, then fill the oranges with it, and bake them in a slow oven as long as you would a custard, then stick on some citron, and fill them up with sack, butter and sugar grated over.

Glasse, Hannah, “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Simple,” 1796.

21st Century

  • 6 medium oranges
  • 1 lb. sugar
  • 1 quart water
  • 4 oz. butter
  • 4 oz. cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tbsp. sherry
  • Sponge cakes or white bread — the equivalent of two large muffins in size
  • For topping: 3 oz. each of citron and candied orange peel and a sauce of 2 Tbsp. each of Sherry, melted butter and sugar heated and mixed together.
  1. Take your oranges and cut off the tops of each about one fifth the way down from the stem.
  2. Scoop out the inside of the orange as best you can including the white. If you use a small tea spoon and hold the orange in your palm, it will be easier to scrape it out.
  3. Boil the orange shells and lids in the water until tender but not folding or falling apart.
  4. Take them out, let them cool some and pat them dry gently with a cloth.
  5. Take half or more of the water the oranges were boiled in, add the sugar and bring to a boil in a medium stew pan.
  6. While it is boiling add the orange shells and lids and let them boil a few minutes.
  7. Take the pot off the heat and let it cool.
  8. Put the oranges and water in a covered container and set them in the refrigerator for a couple of days to saturate with the syrup, stirring them a couple of times a day.
  9. When they have saturated you are ready to fill them.
  10. In a mixing bowl, beat your eggs very well, add the cream, cake crumb, butter and sherry. Mix this together well with a spoon.
  11. Gently fill your orange shells with this “cake” mixture.
  12. Bake the oranges and their lids in a 350° oven for close to half an hour or more. They should not get dark brown on the outside, but a deeper orange color. The “cake” should bake as well.
  13. After coming from the oven, place the chopped citron and candied orange peel on top of each cake. After heating up the sherry, butter and sugar sauce spoon that over each cake to let it soak in. Send them to the table with lids on or next to them on the plate.

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11 Responses to “To Make Orange Loaves”

  1. March 8th, 2013

    Christine Hansley says:

    Hi Foodways Crew,
    I’m confused. In #13 you say to place the butter, sugar and sherry over the cake. The sugar was used in #5 and the sherry was used in #10. Are we to use the “sugar water” as a glaze? Are we using a casserole/baker or a baking sheet? In #12 are the lids covering the cake or are they placed to the side during baking? What do we do with the butter? Slice it and put a pat of butter over each to melt in? Do we warm the citron before putting it on the cake? Should the cake be more like bread pudding(sticky moist) or like cake(dry in the center)? Is it baked when a toothpick comes out clean?
    Thanks for the help on this one. I guess I’m just not seeing/understanding something on this recipe.
    Have a good day,

    • March 13th, 2013

      Historic Foodways says:

      Thanks Christine for helping to clear up some confusion. The ingredient correction will be posted soon. There are seperate ingredients for the topping and sauce that goes over the cake. Keep those sharp eyes working for us, we appreciate it.
      Dennis Cotner

      • March 14th, 2013

        Christine Hansley says:

        Hi Dennis,
        You’re welcome. I’m a pretty good cook, but sometimes things are still new to me, even at 63. Especially Colonial cooking.
        Thanks for the great recipes and help when we need it.
        Have a great Spring,

  2. March 13th, 2013

    I loved the orange peel better than the cake filling.

  3. March 13th, 2013

    Faith N. says:

    What variety of orange would work best for this recipe?

    • March 13th, 2013

      Historic Foodways says:

      Hello Faith. You really can use any orange you like. The thinner skinned Florida oranges candy easier but can sag on you before the cake filling props them up again. The thicker navel types take longer to candy but hold up better due to skin thickness. I must admit we haven’t tried these with Sevilles. It would be interesting to see how those would work. Thanks for the question.
      Dennis Cotner

  4. September 22nd, 2014

    Sue says:

    My son has made these for a Social Studies project at school. Of course we had to finish them the night before, so I am wondering if they should be refrigerated.

  5. October 2nd, 2014

    Jen says:

    I just saw this in the Palace Kitchen yesterday and came home all on fire to make it. I candied my orange peel and then the whole container fell out of the fridge a few hours later. Rather than toss it I upped the timetable. Didnt have brandy or sherry so I substituted apple cider wherever they appeared in the recipe. It worked and was a huge hit with the family! Cant wait to try another recipe from this page!

  6. March 13th, 2015

    Catrina says:

    I’m a 4th grader, and I’m making the orange loaves for a social studies project as my “artifact” about cooking differences between New York and Virginia colonies. Everyone else is doing dioramas, but I’m really excited to see how this turns out!

  7. December 9th, 2018

    Katie says:

    My friends and I make these orange loaves for Twelfth Night every year, and they’re always popular. For modern cooking, I strongly recommend using a grapefruit spoon to scoop out the insides–it saves so much trouble! We usually use clementines, and add some cinnamon and nutmeg to the filling.
    We’ve tried a lot of recipes from the Foodways blog over the years and had a lot of fun playing with them. Thank you for sharing them!

  8. August 13th, 2019

    Pam says:

    My teenage girl scouts teach an event on colonial life. I am looking for a recipe to highlight the extravagance of the gentry vs say well off merchants and tradesmen. In talking with one of the Palace cooks she suggested this recipe. But…. it would be time consuming to candy the orange. What if they taught a workshop that baked something in the orange shell? Gingerbread recipe perhaps? OR even the cake filling suggested? Though, I would like to try this myself.

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