Thursday, 13 March 2014 | 82 comments

A marmalade cake

When I was growing up, my mother ordered big boxes of citrus from Florida as Christmas presents to family members. This strikes me as a really ’80s or early ’90s food thing to do, sort of in the same category as raspberry vinaigrette or a big tri-color pasta salad. In any case, now that she’s no longer with us, my stepfather dutifully carries on the tradition. He sent me a big box of honeybells in January. I love citrus in winter, but we couldn’t keep up with 25 pounds of it. So I made marmalade.

(For kicks, here’s a picture of all the stuff I had to shove aside to take the picture of that cake. Bonus points if you can find the mermaid-shaped bottle opener, an Alice Munro book of short stories, and that spray-foam stuff that expands to fill holes.)

The marmalade is totally gorgeous. For such a small batch, I was too lazy to try to slice the orange peel very finely, so I left it intact in big squares. The marmalade is thick with them, and they taste like candy. I cooked it down a lot, too, so the flavor is concentrated and the texture is pretty gelled. It’s jewel-like, and I love just looking at it.

The problem is that we don’t really eat jams and fruit preserves very frequently. So, a cake, one that contains a full cup of marmalade. I think I’d call this a swan song for the type of wintry, pantry-ish stuff that I’m trying really hard not to complain about. We had our first warm, springlike day this week, and I can hardly believe there was still snow on the ground when I baked this loaf over the weekend. Buttery and tangy, the cake is just the thing with a cup of milky tea.

(Annoyingly, I still have a ton of marmalade. I’ve never done the giveaway thing before because it seems gimmicky, but I need to unload a couple of jars. It’s also kind of nice way to keep the sending-someone-citrus love going. So, if you’re interested in a jar of pretty tangelo marmalade, let me know in the comments and I’ll find a way to send some of it out into the world.)

Tomorrow I’m off on work travel—so maybe by the time I get back it will be time for real-deal spring and pictures of seedlings and such. Also, maybe my dining room table will be de-cluttered. One of those things, for sure, although I’d count on inevitable springtime more than the table. Until then.

Marmalade cake

This is a mash-up of a recipe from Canal House Cooks Every Day and a Melissa Clark NYT recipe, although it’s closer to Clark’s loaf-ish cake. I was not as consistent about measuring weights as I should have been, because the massive amount of marmalade I added was a bit of an approximation.

You’ll need

  1. 140 grams butter, plus more for greasing the pan
  2. 100 grams (about 1/2 cup) demerara sugar (white granulated will work)
  3. Zest of one lemon
  4. 1 full cup marmalade, divided
  5. 3 large eggs
  6. 190 grams all-purpose flour, or a mix of up to 50/50 all purpose flour and whole wheat flour (this is about 1 1/2 cups)
  7. 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  8. 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  9. 30 grams confectioner’s sugar (for glaze)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a loaf pan well.
  2. Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar with the lemon zest until it’s pale yellow and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until well combined. Add 3/4 cup of the marmalade and mix again.
  4. Now add the dry ingredients. Mix on low until the dry ingredients are just incorporated.
  5. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, until the center is no longer jiggly, and a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  6. Allow the cake to cool for ten minutes, then turn the loaf pan upside down onto a plate to remove the cake. Flip the cake right-side up. Allow to cool completely. In a small saucepan, combine remaining marmalade and confectioner’s sugar. Whisk quickly over medium heat, thinning with a little water if necessary. Drizzle the thick, glaze-y icing over the top of the cake.

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§ 82 responses to A marmalade cake

  • Stacy @ Every Little Thing

    If you’re not completely inundated with requests, I’d love to try some of your marmalade!

    There was recently a recipe for coconut lime preserves (!) in Bon Appetit that I’m dying to try but, like you, we don’t eat preserves as often as I’d like. Hoping your marmalade changes that – would love to send coconut lime in return!

  • Ashley Teesdale

    I want some marmalade!

    Love, danza.

  • Me, me, me! It looks amazing.

  • Heather

    I would love to try the marmalade…. although perhaps I should admit I couldn’t find the mermaid bottle opener?

  • I love the look of this cake – so gorgeous!!

  • Genevieve

    I’d love a jar of your marmalade – how beautiful!

  • Kate

    The marmalade and cake look beautiful! And I would love to take some marmalade off your hands if you need.

  • Kate

    (And my kitchen table always looks like that. It’s called character, right?)

  • Sarah, I just made this cake the day before yesterday, from my own bath of marmalade- although mine was a blood orange rendition. Yours sounds absolutely exquisite, as does the marmalade itself, which I would be thrilled to gets jar of. I wish I had relatives who sent me boxes of fruit!

  • Can I have a jar, pretty please? (assuming you haven’t given it all away) I would totally eat it by the spoonful, haha.

    I’m off on work travel this weekend, too. Where will you be? I’ll be off to Liberia for a couple of months — excited and somewhat nervous!

    Also, I think it is absolutely wonderful that your stepfather has continued the tradition. What a beautiful ritual of celebrating a loved one. Reminds me a lot of the other recipes and rituals catalogued on Have you heard of them before?

    • Michelle! I hope you don’t mind I edited this so your mailing address isn’t up for everyone to see. As for the marmalade, we shall see if I have enough. I’m back to Ghana—big part of my portfolio right now. —S

  • Lou

    I’ll claim partial responsibility for the state of that table (whoops, birthday party streamers from August). Love you, safe travels.

  • Heather

    What a beautiful, thoughtful gift from your friend… and, in turn, for your readers! Would love for my husband to come home from his training to a sunny pot of marmalade! If I don’t finish it all first, because, let’s be honest, there will be a whole loaf of Irish soda bread for me to devour in his absence, and the idea of marmalade on top… Oh fine, it might just be for me!

  • Linda Black

    I love your blog – I think it’s ‘quiet writing’. I would love some marmalade. Thanks.

  • Susanne

    The marmalade is probably all gone by now :( I find some at our local market made by an English lady every year. It is to die
    for. Dark or light, slightly bitter. Postage to Canada is too expensive anyway :( So, I hope that the people that receive a jar
    will enjoy it, and I will just think of all of you when I eat mine on toast , looking out into the hip high snowbanks tomorrow morning.
    Will make that cake, it looks great.

  • Berta

    The marmalade looks delicious! And I”ll add balsamic vinegar to your list of 90s “in” ingredients…!

    Love your writing, as always.

  • would offering a gift package from CA diminish the gimmicky-ness of dispersing marmalade across the internet? if so, i’d love to get in on the tangelo jamming goodness. can’t wait to see your seedlings and (hopefully) more photos of chickens!!!
    safe travels,
    ginger & honey

  • would happily take marmalade, if you’ve still got some. we sometimes use ours as a cocktail base, and are especially fond of serving it with Brie & crackers.

    thank you for the honesty of the “things I shoved aside” photo – I think it makes a big difference to reveal what’s behind the images we cultivate.

    also, that marmalade color is so gorgeous. can we make some jewelry out of it?

  • Oh, how I would LOVE to have a smackeral of your marmalade! I remember taking some tangerines and tangelos with us when my husband and I traveled up the coast to the Half-Moon Bag Pumpkin festival. Peeling them in the car, separating the slices {one for you, two for me} and how they smell –> like Christmas! A wee bit of Christmas on toasted bagel in Spring! Divine! {I’d even pay for postage…really, I would}. Cheers!

  • The cake looks amazing. I love making marmalade, or any jams/jellies – I find it cathartic and meditative. I have a pantry full of it, most of the time, as I do enjoy giving it away to really special people.

    Enjoy your time in Ghana.

  • Ariel

    I think there’s a digit missing from the weight of the butter. 14g=3/4 cup? Maybe 314g? Anyway, cake looks gorgeous, and since I just made a batch of marmalade, I’d love to bake this!

  • Laura

    Cake looks amazing, I just think you need to check the ingredients list again (14 g of butter? Or 3/4 cup of butter (170 g)?)

    • Yes, I think butter is fixed now. Not sure what was really going on with that ingredients list. (Maybe if I clean my dining room table I could get it right?) Good catch.

  • Marmalade is indeed one of life’s treasures. As much as I would love some of yours, am sure your extra jars have found grateful homes. I grew up in Alaska and every winter, my Grandparents on my Father’s side, would visit from California. They always came bearing crates of fresh fruits, bags of nuts and a few 5 lb boxes of See’s candy. This was, of course, back when Alaska didn’t readily have access to those things and it was always a treat.

  • Sarah

    I would definitely be interested in some marmalade. It looks absolutely delicious and my fiancé and I cannot buy marmalade fast enough!

  • Hi Sarah,it’s me, Judith, who you helped with the sprouting peas. Also I left a moment of your tip to Giana, Field Notes. In that email I mentioned my deep sorrow, as my husband had just passed away. You were so empathetic, and offered a hand.
    Well I belee you can, if it’s a possibility. I need to bake your orange Marmalade cake , what a nice recipe…for 6 people who drove me to hospital at the end, as I was getting so weak from all the stress.
    I love to cook and bake and share in this way. John ( British ) loved Marmelade, so as a nod to him this cake would be perfect, so I would love to purchase 6 jars. Also I too sent my family Honeybells . And ordered some for myself, as I knew I needed the vit .c . It really helped revive me.hope you have a safe trip. Bye for now, Judith , NC

  • Sarah

    That cake looks wonderful! I love cakes that call for a cup of jam because it’s a good way to use up some jam! If you have any jars left, I’d love some. We also had our first warm day this week and it was so wonderful!

  • I would love to try your marmalade . It is one of my favorite things to make in the summer. Plus I am crazy about anything citrus.
    Thank you,

  • I would love to try your marmalade. I love to make different kinds during the summer. Plus, I love anything citrus.
    Thank you,

  • I am sure it is all gone but I thought I would try anyway. I am going to make the marmalade cake this weekend.

  • This is the 3rd time I am trying to leave a comment. I want to try your marmalade, please

  • Judy

    I love canal house… them everyday! I would love marmalade…..I’ll trade you some applesauce!

  • I’m sure that the jewel-colored marmalade is long gone, but if not I would love to try it.!The truth is that I’ve never been into marmalade, but I don’t think that I can resist such a color. Besides, it has been years since I tried it, so I think that it is about time to give it another chance.

    Spring is sprouting here in Germany, so perhaps I could sen d you some wild garlic pesto in exchange?

    Happy (work) travels.

  • Elle

    OOO, I’d love a jar – it looks delicious! Also, fyi, it’s easy to go through citrus if you juice it, after making orangettes with the peels of course. But marmelade is one of my favorites as well and I’d love to try yours, thank you!

  • Cassady

    Desperately hoping there’s still some left! Does being close (DC) give me extra bonus point? Hope so!

  • Sirena

    Ha! I may be the 1000th person to write this, but i’d love a jar of the marmalade :-) And I’m in Rockville right down the road too :-) Is my email attached to this comment? Thanks in advance!

    • Ha, I love that the locals are bribing be with lower postage. (Sirena—I pass through Rockville on my way into DC each day. ) Your email is visible to me only, yes. Thanks! –S

  • Such beautiful jars! But yes, I hear you. I make a pantry shelf of preserves–can’t stop myself, because so pretty!–but then our household doesn’t actually eat them. Luckily, they make great portable/shippable gifts! Was the marmalade just improv or do you have a favorite recipe?

  • Beautiful cake, perfect to nibble on while reading Alice Munro, Canada’s very own Nobel prize winner for literature. I’ve been reading her my whole adult life and many of her stories are set in my area. Such good taste you have!

  • Chelsea W

    Looks lovely…I would love some marmalade to make some cake!

  • Jayne Callan

    would love some – but – I live in the UK! The colour is different to the marmalade we have here – it seems a lot brighter.

  • Holy cow, you all want more marmalade than I anticipated! I fly today but I’m going to do my best to get some out to folks as soon as I return (just a week trip.) I’ll contact by email if I need addresses. Thanks! —S

  • I am much too late to this party, and since gorgeous free marmalade seems to be more than accounted for, I’ll be looking for some citrus to make my own marmalade, because that cake looks lovely! If you ever find yourself with too much of any one jam again, I’d be happy to trade one of my jars for one of yours. I often find myself in the same predicament and my friends’ pantries are already stuffed with jars from me.

  • Joanne

    I would love to try your marmalade. The cake looks fabulous!

  • Helen

    I live in New Zealand, and thus realise postage all the way down here may cost a fortune but holy moly I love marmalade cake. I’ve loved the idea of it ever since I read ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’, and the children go to the Beavers for tea, and the she-beaver makes them a gloriously sticky marmalade roll for pudding (which they ate with tea, as you suggested). Needless to say I would love to give your marmalade a go!!

  • Jam — always made with the best of intentions. Yet, difficult to consume a full batch. Better to give some away. I will try this cake with some strawberry jam from the summer when I’m back in chilly climes next month. I hope it’s springtime by then too, as I’d rather love to plan my garden. Happy travels in the meantime!

  • I love marmalade cake and I heart you too, and I’m especially happy for the picture of your dining room table because it is so, so reassuring (even if I can only dream of having a dining room table half that pretty on which to accumulate stuff). Also, what’s going on with the crepe paper streamers…looks like a party!

  • Maggie

    Sarah, my how you’ve gone global in both your career and your jam-making! Hope you’re having a safe trip. Just sending love and good thoughts your way.


  • emily v

    I would love a jar of marmalade. One of the issues of moving from California to Oregon is a deep longing for my beloved citrus fruit. Also, that cake looks beautiful, I love the idea of preserves in baked goods.

  • Susan

    Your marmalade looks amazingly good – such a luminous orange. What I’d like much more than a jar of marmalade is your marmalade RECIPE. I’ve tried making it, and my results have gone from completely inedible to ok-but-still-more-bitter-than-I’d-like. Help?

    p.s. Did you ever get the chewy molasses cookie recipe…?

  • Keishua

    Down the road(ish) in Alexandria. If you still have some I would love a jar.

  • Sara

    I would love to try some. I just started making my own, and am interested in seeing if I am getting it right, lol. This cake sounds yummy! I was looking for a recipe to take to my mother in law at the nursing home. I think she will love this, thanks!

  • Annie in Illinois

    OMG, I’ve been looking for marmalade for ages! I’d GLADLY pay postage if you ever end up with a surplus again!
    The marmalades I’ve seen for sale all have one or two forbidden (to me) ingredients. I need to avoid corn, [see], the list of ingredients than may be made of or from corn is staggeringly long!
    Will check out the recipe link you posted, thank you so much! Maybe I’ll finally get the nerve to try it myself….

  • Janet

    I think we should all send in photos of our kitchen tables…..unless they are those ones that have placemats and the table set even when there is no one there for dinner.

  • meg

    I love making jams and preserves and always end up with way too many jars of the stuff. I adore jam on buttered toast, but there’s no way I can eat it all. I almost always give away the majority of jam I make–mostly to friends and family. They always seem appreciative!

  • Wow, this marmalade cake looks delicious– how very resourceful! I will have to indulge my sweet tooth, and give this recipe a try. Thanks for sharing!

  • Venetia

    Sarah, if you have any last little jars of marmalade that would like to journey alll the way across the Atlantic Ocean to London (they can do the travelling instead of you for once), I can promise they’d be eaten in a trice. You write the most wonderful, thought-provoking blog, and marmalade or not, I take great pleasure in reading your recipes.

  • I’ve got so many jars of jams, etc. that never go used. Time to make a cake!

  • Maria V.

    I love marmalade! I used to help my Mom make orange, lemon and pineapple marmalade every spring. It’s perfect with buttered toast for breakfast. I haven’t made marmalade since my Mom passed away.

  • That is some gorgeous marmalade! Please feel free to send a jar to (my home in) Florida, you know, as a thank you for all the citrus. ;) We’ve had a ton of it but I have not preserved any.

    p.s. David Tanis has a good small batch recipe for apricots, which results in a similar striking shade of orange.

  • brian cukurs

    Man, I love marmalade an that cake looks super

  • Christine

    Too late for marmelade, but maybe next year! This cake is absolutely stunning and I love the story behind it.

    You have a beautiful way with words, food and photography.

  • Mary Lee

    I was grateful to see the photo of ‘things pushed aside’, as it seems that I have to do that everytime I want a picture of something I’ve made. Somehow, I was believing that the entire world was organized, except for me. I’m sure your cake was yummy. I use my excess marmalades and jams in Jam Tortes – a yummy way to use excess jars of jam.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • oh what a smart use of the marmalade! I once made a a giant heaping of almond butter and had no idea what to do with it. needless to say, that entire bath ended up going bad :(

    i’ll have to try this new cake + jam method going forward!


  • I bet you are out of stock by now
    but if you still have a jar
    I too, would love to receive some citrus jelly from you.
    All the best from mexico! C

  • Emily

    Sarah! I made this cake yesterday and it was so divine. I served it with milky cardamon black tea, to dear friends, around my kitchen table. Thank you. xoxo

  • Resi

    I’m only seeing this now… but I’d take some of your marmalade! It has such a deliciously orange color. Wow!
    But I’m located in Berlin, Germany… not the most convenient place to send marmalade to. But I appreciate your offer – such a cool offer to post on your blog! Thanks for sharing your writing with us. I return frequently to see if you posted something new. And your recipes? Yum.

  • Cj

    Congratulations on your selection as a finalist in the Saveur Food Blog Awards!

    I would to personally invite you to share your gorgeous food photos with us over at Food Foto Gallery . com – In April alone, we had 26,832 visitors to the site & there’s no complicated approval process like the big guys. Any photos related to food (that are not watermarked) are accepted & get posted automatically. Being a food blogger, myself, we also share our daily faves on social media, giving exposure to fellow foodies whenever we can.

    Let me know if you have any questions and hope to see you at the site :)

  • Judith Schell

    Is it too late for Marmalade? :) If you EVER make more, my sister would love to try some. I would love for her to be surprised. She has searched for a Lemon Marmalade, I personally love the Orange you made and am sure she would too. She just wants to try a Lemon variety. I hope you do make more. I will supply her address if you do! Thank you so kindly!

  • Thank you so much I was able to find good information from your blog articles.

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