Orange Muffins

This orange muffin came about because I saw a recipe for Orange Bundt Cake on Campari & Sofa, and thought it would be nice to make this as muffins for a pretty dessert. Claudia’s source for the recipe was Marcella Hazan, an Italian cookery write of whom I had never heard before. The orange cake is created by adding orange zest to a pretty straightforward cake recipe, and then soaking everything with fresh orange juice. This turns the cake into something moist, sticky and lots of orange taste. Cakes often turn out dry, but this recipe is forgiving because the cake is soaked in juice anyway.

As the cake is supposed to have its roots in the city of Ancona in the Marche, I substituted the Ouzo with Sambuca. Both are anise liqueurs, but Sambuca is Italian and Ouzo is Greek. The anise liqueur from Marche called Anisetta may be even more appropriate, but probably difficult to find outside of Marche.

I served these muffins for dessert, but they are also great for breakfast or any other time of the day. You could also make them as a bundt cake instead, but I liked the cute individual servings. It was a success and I will definitely make this again. Thanks for sharing, Claudia!


For 12 muffins or 1 bundt cake

325 grams (2 cups + 2 Tbsp) cake flour

3 eggs

zest of 3 oranges

60 grams (4 Tbsp) butter

225 grams (1 cup + 3 Tbsp) sugar

2 Tbsp Sambuca liqueur

1 Tbsp milk

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

500 ml (2 cups) freshly squeezed orange juice, sweetened with 2 Tbsp sugar if needed


Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF (forced air). Generously butter a muffin tin and sprinkle with flour.

Zest three of the oranges before juicing them. (Make sure to use untreated oranges and wash them well before zesting.)

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine flour, eggs, orange zest, butter, sugar, and sambuca.

Mix until homogeneous.

Add the milk…

…and the baking powder…

…and mix some more to incorporate.

Transfer the batter to the prepared muffin tin.

The batter should fill up about 3/4 of the tin.

Bake for about 18 minutes at 180ºC/350ºF (forced air) until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

A bundt cake will need 40-45 minutes.

Meanwhile, make freshly squeezed orange juice.

Sweeten the orange juice if needed. I added 2 Tbsp of sugar and mixed well.

The muffins should rise nicely.

Allow the muffins to cool briefly until you can handle them.

Arrange them close together on a flat plate and poke many holes into them with a chopstick or another pointy object.

Pour all of the juice on top of the muffins while they are still warm.

A lot of the juice will end up on the plate. Allow the muffins to soak up that juice.

After some hours, all of the juice will have disappeared into the muffins. They are now ready to eat. Store in the refrigerator if you are not eating them the same day.

Baked goods always look prettier if you sprinkle some icing sugar on them.

Wine pairing

We enjoyed a passito di pantelleria with this, which has notes of orange and a good balance between sweetness and acidity to go with these muffins.


12 thoughts on “Orange Muffins

  1. These muffins looks so authentic and Italian, Stefan. I bet you could use almost any liqueur to change up the flavor profiles. I agree – the little ones are cute – and I could also eat them anytime of day. 😉


    1. Thanks, Shanna. Can’t say there was a noticeable anise flavor in them — perhaps I should do a side by side to compare. Not a big surprise though with 2 Tbsp of sambuca in such a lot of batter plus 2 cups of orange juice as well.


    1. That’s alright, although I’m curious what makes it un-Stefan to you. It is true that is the first time I’ve poured orange juice on a cake, but it is quite similar to other baking I’ve done before. You are right though that it is different from the bison.


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