Blood Orange Poppy Loaf Cake: A stunning change to your regular lemon or orange loaf, this blood orange loaf cake, with its bright pink glaze and candied blood orange slices, will make for the more gorgeous and delicious loaf cake you’ve ever made!

Blood Orange Poppy Loaf Cake

To me, there isn’t a “best” time of year for citrus desserts. I developed my lemon raspberry cupcakes one hot summer day and made this lemon buttermilk loaf in the middle of winter many years ago.

But unless you’re really attuned to the seasonality of fruit, you may not know that citrus season occurs in winter and into early spring. So this year, I decided to jump into blood orange season with 2 feet with a blood orange poppy loaf cake.

Blood Orange Poppy Loaf Cake

It was the first time that I baked with blood oranges and I have to say that I’m completely smitten with the pink hues this fruit colors the ingredients it’s mixed with. I mean, look at that glaze!!

What’s Difference Between Oranges and Blood Oranges?

Blood oranges are a variety of orange that have a gorgeous crimson fleshy interior and juices that look like the color of blood. When mixed with a white ingredient, like powdered sugar for a glaze, the glaze will be pink.

Pinnable image of blood orange poppy seed loaf cake.

The skin of a blood orange resembles a regular orange but there’s a slight tint of red and purple in the blood orange skin that you can see when you look closely.

Blood oranges taste just like oranges but they’re a tiny bit sweeter than oranges. And they’re perfectly delicious to squeeze to make blood orange juice!

Blood Orange Poppy Loaf Cake

How to Cook and Bake with Blood Oranges

If you’re going to use blood oranges to cook or bake, you’ll use them the same way you would use a regular orange. To flavor this loaf cake, I juiced the oranges and added them to the loaf batter, the glaze, and a syrup that I drenched the warm cake in to help keep it moist and add extra flavor.

Blood Orange Poppy Loaf Cake

With some basic juicing and zesting of blood oranges, you can add their vibrant flavor and color to lots of baked treats!

If you want to cook with blood oranges, you can add fresh slices to salads, make vinaigrette for salads, chop them up for salsa to top fish, or use the juice to make sweet and sour chicken. Really, those are just a few ways! There are TONS of blood orange recipes out there!

Ingredients for Blood Orange Loaf Cake with Poppy Seeds

If you’ve made a lemon loaf cake before, you know how easy it is to make, and this blood orange loaf cake is no different. For the cake batter, you’ll need:

  • cake flour
  • all-purpose flour
  • baking powder and baking soda
  • salt
  • poppy seeds
  • sugar
  • eggs
  • butter
  • sour cream
  • vanilla
  • blood orange zest, and
  • blood orange juice

Blood Orange Poppy Loaf Cake

If you don’t have poppy seeds in your pantry and have a huge urge to make this loaf cake immediately, don’t worry about adding them. I love poppy seeds in my citrus treats, like in these whole lemon muffins, but it’s not a deal breaker if you don’t have them.

For the syrup, you’ll make a blood orange simple syrup with sugar and blood orange juice.

And for the glaze, you’ll need confectioners’ sugar and blood orange juice.

Blood Orange Poppy Loaf Cake

We’re talking very basic baking ingredients for this recipe plus the addition of blood oranges for their zest and juice. Simple, yes?

How to Make Blood Orange Loaf Cake

To make this cake, you’ll whisk the dry ingredients together. In another bowl, you’ll beat the sugar, eggs, and blood orange zest and juice together then mix in melted butter. Next, alternate mixing the dry ingredients with the sour cream until you have a thick, orange-scented batter.

Blood Orange Poppy Loaf Cake

You’ll bake the batter in a 9-inch (1-pound) greased loaf pan and immediately after the cake comes out of the oven, you’ll pour the blood orange simple syrup over the top. The syrup is simply a quickly boiled mixture of sugar and blood orange juice.

I urge you not to skip the syrup step because its purpose is two-fold. First, it adds an extra flavor boost to the cake. And second, it helps to keep the cake extra soft and moist.

Blood Orange Poppy Loaf Cake

That gorgeous pink glaze will come together instantly by whisking the confectioners’ sugar with some more blood orange juice. When the cake is completely cool, you’ll pour the glaze over the top and allow it to dribble down the sides.

I topped my cake with some candied blood orange slices and some sugar pearls, both of which added some extra oomph to the beauty of this loaf cake. If you’re short on time, ingredients, or motivation, it’s totally fine to skip these add-ons! Let’s not stress out about these things – the cake is utterly delicious on its own, without these toppings!

Blood Orange Poppy Loaf Cake

What We Loved About this Blood Orange Loaf

In all honesty, the pink glaze was what put this loaf cake over the top for me. Outside of my pink vanilla birthday cake, I don’t think I’ve ever made such a beautiful treat!

The citrusy blood orange flavor definitely comes through on multiple levels and it’s such a delightfully refreshing flavor!

Blood Orange Poppy Loaf Cake

We also loved the tiny crunches the suspended poppy seeds give to eat bite of the cake. If you love the texture of poppy seeds in lemon poppy muffins, you’ll love this cake too.

Overall, this is a phenomenal blood orange loaf cake recipe and whether you’ll be serving it with a pot of tea, coffee, or an iced or hot latte, you won’t be disappointed. And I can guarantee that it will certainly brighten anyone’s day!!

Blood Orange Poppy Loaf Cake

More Loaf Cakes To Make & Love

Blood Orange Poppy Loaf Cake

Blood Orange Poppy Loaf Cake

Yield: 1 9-inch loaf cake
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Bake Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes


For the cake:

  • ¾ cup cake flour
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp grated blood orange zest
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed blood orange juice
  • 8 oz unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the syrup:

  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed blood orange juice

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 to 3 tbsp freshly squeezed blood orange juice

For the candied blood orange slices:

  • 1 blood orange
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water


  1. To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Grease and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. 
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds. Whisk to blend and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar, eggs, orange zest and orange juice. With the mixer on low speed, blend in the melted butter. On low speed, mix in half of the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla until combined. Mix in the remaining dry ingredients, again just until incorporated. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.  
  4. Bake 20 minutes, rotate the pan, and reduce the oven temperature to 325˚ F. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes.
  5. While the cake cools, make the syrup. Combine the sugar and blood orange juice in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves and then remove the pan from the heat.
  6. Remove the cake from the pan and set it on a wire cooling rack set over a baking sheet that's been lined with foil or parchment paper. With a toothpick or wooden skewer, poke holes all over the cake but not through the bottom. Drizzle the blood orange syrup slowly over the cake, allowing it to absorb into the holes before adding more (basically, you don't want to flood the cake and cause the syrup to run down the sides).
  7. To make the glaze: Sift the confectioners' sugar into a medium bowl and then whisk in the blood orange juice until the glaze is completely combined and smooth. Pour the glaze over the cake and allow it to sit for 30 minutes to set up.
  8. To make the candied blood oranges: Slice the blood orange into ⅛-inch thick slices. Heat the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture just starts to bubble up. Carefully add the orange slices to the saucepan with tongs and coat both sides of the slices with the syrup mixture and lay them out in a single layer so that none are overlapping. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes, turning the slices over occasionally, until both sides of the slices have started to harden and become candied. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the oranges to a piece of parchment paper in a single layer until they have cooled completely.
  9. Peel the orange slices off the paper and add place them atop the cake.
  10. To cut the cake, use a serrated knife to slice through the orange slices and cake.

Storage: Keep the cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.


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Leave a Comment

  • michew
    July 10, 2020 at 3:01 AM

    Yum! I’m hungry just looking at this loaf cakes!

    • Tara
      July 14, 2020 at 3:43 PM

      Thank you!