• Yuzu citrus tea cake (Donal's Asian Baking Adventure)Source: Donal's Asian Baking Adventure
In the midst of winter, citrus brings a bright zing of sunshine. Especially when added to cake.
25 Jun 2020 - 12:13 PM  UPDATED 29 Jun 2020 - 11:56 AM

It's chilly out there and as we slog through another day with a shiver in our bones, it can seem like a very long season.

Yet it can also be very kind. Witness the abundance of citrus fruits tumbling off the trees and shelves. Bright yellow lemons, oranges glowing like little rising suns, limes bursting with tangy juice. It feels positively tropical out there.

Then the tart zip of flavour hits the tongue and suddenly we're lying on a beach considering our sunblock options.

Citrus has a way of warming us up, just by looking at it. Then the tart zip of flavour hits the tongue and suddenly we're lying on a beach considering our sunblock options.

Of course, there's no denying that we are still at the tiny end of the temperature readings, so we do need to consider our comfort options. This is not the time for adding zesty lemon and lime to a sorbet or cocktail (though by all means, you can absolutely do that). Instead, bake some of that citrus sunshine into a cake and warm yourself up properly. Any of these cheerful recipes will soon see you smiling.

Lemon and yoghurt cake

Lemon and yoghurt cake

Hailing from Sweden (where they know a thing or two about warming up), this divine cake punches layers of lemon curd through a sponge-like yoghurt cake. A cream cheese icing adds a layer of sharp creaminess that balances the citrus flavours perfectly.

Lemon yoghurt cake

Set yourself up with a cup of tea to enjoy with this moist lemon cake and its zesty lemon glaze.

Lemon yoghurt syrup cakes (yiaourtopita)

The Greeks really know how to make a lemon cake and this syrup-soaked yiaourtopita is one of my all-time favourites. These little handfuls are more-ishly tangy, and the lemon icing makes them all the more mouth-puckering. 

Orange and chocolate cake

The Dutch are also partial to a citrus cake, and chef Geert Elzinga shares his recipe for the perfect one. Dark chocolate chips add richness to balance the orange notes. A simple sugar syrup keeps things light, much like your spirits after devouring a slice of this treat.

Yuzu citrus tea cake

Yuzu citrus tea cake

The flavour of yuzu is like a strong hybrid of grapefruit, mandarin and lime; and that smells every bit as fragrant as it sounds. Using yuzu citrus tea, this classic buttercream cake is given a welcome zesty boost. Known as yuja cha in Korean, the tea comes in a jam-like form and can be found at Korean and Asian supermarkets. 

Yuzu cheesecake

Japan's iconic citrus, yuzu, has a flavour similar to lemon but with a hint of the herbal, piney edge of a mandarin. It's perfect spin for a spin on a regular lemon cheesecake.

Burnt wheat, yukari and yuzu tart

Yuzu is the new black in the citrus world - a glorious amalgamation of mandarin, lime and grapefruit flavours with a sublime aroma, this decadent tart celebrates the citrus powers that be.

Mandarin hazelnut cake

You throw three entire mandarins (yes to pith and skin, no to pips) into this gluten-free number. The result is a dense and moist cake that tastes and smells exactly of sweet, sweet mandarin.

Macadamia and mandarin cake with cinnamon syrup

"When we filmed this show, everyone’s garden in the hinterland was full of ripe sweet mandarins, add macadamias and some nomadic chicken eggs and I was reminded of this classic flourless citrus cake." Peter Kuruvita, Peter Kuruvita's Coastal Kitchen

Orange lamington cake

If an orange lamington cake doesn't brighten your day, the day isn't over yet. Adding a citrus note to the standard lamington sponge punches up all the flavours to a new level of yummo. Watch the video of Poh making the cake for an added dose of cheer.

Spiced orange cakes

Filled with flavours inspired by the Middle East, these mini loaf cakes are drizzled with a spiced orange blossom syrup.

Hazelnut, rose & orange cake

What really brings this cake to life are the roasted strawberries - especially when roasted with orange juice and rosewater. 

Lemon polenta cake

A boozy limoncello sauce adds extra warming oomph to this zesty little number. It's an easy-to-make, delightfully light and fluffy cake, with an excellent texture from the polenta.

St Clements polenta cake with blueberries

This is a simplified version of a classic Claudia Roden recipe, and I really don’t think it’s lost any of its charm in my adaptation. 

Mandarin and bay loaf

Mandarin & bay leaf olive loaf

Fresh bay leaves and extra-virgin olive oil cut through bold mandarin flavours in this easy loaf. It's the perfect pick-me-up on a drowsy Sunday afternoon, served with a strong cup of tea.

Lemon buttermilk pound cake with lemon curd

A heavenly layering of mouth-puckering lemon pound cake, curd and syrup, teamed with summer fruits and ‘soured’ cream, this dessert is one for lemon-lovers. The cake is just as delicious served either plain, toasted or chargrilled – just take your pick! 

Choc-orange loaf with chocolate glaze

Choc-orange, or jaffa, is such a great flavour. This dead-easy cake is made completely in the food processor using a whole orange, rind and all (no that isn’t a mistake!). Orange flower water is optional in this recipe but will give the cake a slightly more ‘refined’ orange character.

Belgian lemon tea cake

If you make this lemon curd cake once, you'll make it again and again and again. It's so easy and so good. Shortbread dough is pressed into the tin, followed by freshly cooled lemon curd, then more dough is dotted on top before into the oven it goes. It's that simple, but the result is a crunchy-in-parts, soft-in-others cake that oozes with a wickedly zingy lemony curd.

Lemon buttermilk pound cake with lemon curd

A heavenly layering of mouth-puckering lemon pound cake, curd and syrup, teamed with summer fruits and ‘soured’ cream, this dessert is one for lemon-lovers. The cake is just as delicious served either plain, toasted or chargrilled – just take your pick! 

Lemon curd, mascarpone and almond layer cake

We know you all love this recipe, as so many have baked and sent us pics of this gorgeous sunny cake. The trick with layer cakes is to put the cooled cakes in the freezer for 40 minutes and then cut each in half. It makes it much easier to handle and you won't have too many crumbs.

Apple and lemon curd shortcake

This shortcake is best eaten made the day it's made, as the curd has the possibility of making the pastry go a bit soggy. That said, I wouldn't hesitate to knock back a slice the next day.

Chocolate cake with grapefruit glaze

Chocolate cake with ruby grapefruit glaze

Chocolate has had a long love affair with many citrus flavours, but grapefruit has surely stolen its heart. Sharp-but-sweet ruby grapefruit meets dense-but-rich fudge cake, and both are all the happier for the pairing.

Tangelo cheesecake

Baked tangelo cheesecake with Campari tangelo salad

If you can get your hands on some tangelos - at their peak from now until October - then this creamy/tangy cheesecake is exactly what to do with them. Not least because of the Campari-soaked tangelo pieces that sit oh-so beautifully on top. 

Two-citrus cheesecake (sernik)

This cheesecake recipe is from my debut cookbook, Polska, and based on the one my grandma used to make for all kinds of family celebrations during my childhood in Poland. 

Baked lemon cheesecake

The ricotta cheese in this baked cheesecake adds lightness and the dates add a subtle sweetness. 

Lime cheesecake tart

The base for this light and summery tart can be made a couple of days in advance and stored in an airtight container. Use any berries or summer fruits that are in season.

Orange and poppyseed cake

Would a list like this be complete without including an orange and poppyseed cake? No, it would not. Here a citrus-flavoured icing backs up the orange rind in the cake itself. Just the ticket for a cup of tea with friends. 

Naked orange poppy seed cake with orange blossom frosting

This pretty cake, with its heavenly orange blossom-scented frosting, is currently one of my favourite ‘special occasion’ cakes – particularly for birthday celebrations. The cake layers are baked in two batches but if you are lucky enough to have four cake pans that can fit in your oven all at once, feel free to make the mixture in one lot and bake them all together.

Orange and almond cake

A classic Passover dessert that draws on the Sephardic traditions of the Mediterranean, Morocco and the Middle East. In this recipe whole oranges are boiled for two hours and then puréed skin, pips and all. Not only is this cake incredibly moreish and moist, it is also gluten and dairy-free making it the perfect all-rounder. 

Coconut cake with lime syrup

Coconut cake with lime syrup

If a tropical holiday was a cake, it would be this cake. Bonus points for the fact that it contains no refined sugar - which is very helpful for when our next real tropical holiday beckons. Until then, let's bunker in and eat cake.

Mahi mahi with sticky citrus sauce

Mahi mahi, also known as dolphinfish or dorado, is one of my favourite fish and beautiful with this simple sweet-sour citrus sauce. 

Grilled prawns with oregano and lime

Opening the prawns and adding the seasonings before cooking gives them more flavour and allows them to cook faster.

Messy orange pie

Simple to make, this dessert delivers an elegant balance of flavours and textures. 

Marinated chicken with coconut lime dressing

These lovely legs are great eaten straight out of the oven from the tray - dressing mandatory, plates optional.

Crispy taro-crusted duck with mandarin sauce

This is a complex recipe for authentic Peking-style duck, served with a mandarin sauce instead of the orange sauce you might expect. 

Our ever-popular orange and almond cake
It's been one of our most popular recipes for years! Hands up if you've made our dairy-free & gluten-free orange & almond cake?
Lemon-mandarin kosho

Yuzukosho is a Japanese condiment made from very finely chopped yuzu zest and chilli. It’s hot, salty, very sour but with floral notes coming through that really lift it. I have found that you can use the same principles and adapt them to other kinds of chilli and citrus.

Bakeproof: Citrus
Meet our everyday baker Anneka Manning. Each month, she'll be sharing her baking rituals, modern and ancient, and baking techniques from around the world. This week, she shares ideas for making the most of oranges, lemons and other citrus.
How to grow: Citrus
Every Australian backyard needs a lemon tree, but don’t stop there. Imagine a hedge or privacy screen of all your favourite citrus; lemons, oranges, mandarins, grapefruit, limes and tangelos, or if space is tight, you could grow dwarf varieties in pots or have several types grafted onto one tree. When you choose a range of early and late maturing varieties, it’s possible to enjoy home-grown citrus over a very long period. Whatever you choose, you simply can’t go wrong with any citrus. They are all incredibly productive and ornamentally beautiful and make a valuable contribution to any garden.