Monday, March 20, 2023

Color Changing Eggless Blood Orange Jello Poke Cake

This post is sponsored in conjunction with #SpringSweetsWeek. I received product samples from sponsor companies to help in the creation of the #SpringSweetsWeek recipes. All opinions are mine alone.

This is a delicious and eggless blood orange poke cake with layers of blood orange flavor - in the cake, in the gelatin free jello, as well as in the cream frosting. This soft eggless cake with blood orange juice and zest in layers is one of the best desserts to serve for festive occasions. 

I received samples from Melissa's Produce, Anolon, and Taylor and Colledge to aid the process of recipe development. Best food starts with the best ingredients and these products are simply the best! 

First, Melissa's Blood oranges are loaded with tons of anthocyanins with deep red colored flesh.

Next, Taylor and Colledge extract pastes give the perfect flavor in baked goods and it is always my go to  choice to use for any recipe. Check here for delicious recipes using almond extract paste, vanilla extract paste, Lemon extract paste, and Lavender extract paste. If you haven’t tried these, do try now and do not miss on the flavors.

Finally, Anolon pans are the best! They transfer heat uniformly and quickly resulting in even baking results every time. Whether you bake cookies, breads, or cake, it is a must to use Anolon pans for best results.

Have you ever wondered why baked goods with blood oranges turn to purple/blue color while other citrus (lemon, lime, or orange) based cakes/baked goods do not? This is explained by a simple science experiment from your school time. Before going into it, it is important to know what constituents in the blood ranges give its color. Let’s get in with it.

What are anthocyanins?

Anthocyanins are a class of chemical compounds that belong to the flavonoids ( a wide group of phenolic compounds), and these pigments are responsible for the color in many veggies and fruits. In citrus, these pigments are concentrated in the flesh and sometimes in the rind. In blood oranges, these anthocyanins are the ones making it red in color and depending on the quantities of the pigments, there are variations in the red color in these oranges. The dark coloration is also seen on the exterior rind of the fruit. This concentration of the pigments also depends on the specific weather conditions. Low temperatures at night is vital for the oranges to develop a deep red color.

A little chemistry……..

Baked goods have basic ingredients and may also contain acidic ingredients. Acidic, or basic, is determined by the hydrogen or hydronium ion concentration. pH is the logarithmic measure of the hydrogen ion in solution or the substance. In simple terms acids are those substances that give H+ in solution and the acidic ingredients include citrus juices, vinegar, buttermilk etc. They aid in giving a fluffier texture to the cake. Whereas bases are those that would accept the H+ ions and the basic components in most of the bakes are baking soda and baking powder (Sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate). When the acidic and the basic ingredients react in your cake mixture, in bakes, the carbonates will react with acids producing carbon dioxide as one of the products of this neutralization reaction, and this helps in leavening the cake. 

Now for the pH and blood oranges, and their effect on baked goods:

Like all citrus fruits, these blood oranges are also acidic, but they are less acidic than a Navel Orange. The pH of the blood orange juice is around 3.3 to 3.8. These anthocyanins are sensitive to pH.  In simple terms, they change into a different form when the pH changes. That means, when the juice comes in contact with a base, the color changes and these anthocyanins take a different structural form. The flavylium cation gives the red color at lower pH and it changes to around 4, the anthocyanins in blood orange changes to purple color (the flavylium cation changes to quinoidal species). (Reference here). 

Blood orange and this cake: When the cake bakes, the base from the baking powder and baking soda react with the acidic vinegar used. This cake recipe uses milk and condensed milk which also have a pH of 6.8 and 6.2 respectively, in the acidic range. The apple cider vinegar has a ph range of 2-3. These acidic components neutralize the base, producing carbon dioxide and thereby leavening the cake. The pH changes as the acids are neutralized and it would no more be in the range of 2-3. 

This is the reason why the beautiful reddish pink cake batter in this Blood Orange bundt cake changes to blue color as the reaction proceeds inside the oven when the cake bakes. In this cake, only the zest is used in the batter, and the anthocyanins are not present in enough concentration (though blood orange zest has some) to make the effect. The moment the blood orange gel mixture is added in this poke cake, the anthocyanin rich blood orange comes in contact with the cake that doesn’t have a pH around 2. So the jello changes to purple color and is edible even though it might have undergone some structural change. The color change doesn't happen immediately, takes about 30 minutes or longer.

What are the options to use this color change, and option  to keep the beautiful color of this blood orange?

The next time you include some blood orange juice, make sure to note these color changes specified above. The resulting change doesn’t harm us and the baked goods are totally great to eat. This gives an opportunity to make naturally colored and flavored cakes for many occasions, for birthdays, for themed parties, and for especially Halloween. This Halloween try this experiment in your spooky baked goods. The color of the blood orange juice can be maintained when you make a glaze, like in this cake, (which is widely used), drinks, and frozen yogurt (check this Blood Orange Frozen Yogurt, one of our favorites to have when blood oranges are in season). There are a few other recipes utilizing the blood orange juice retaining its color too. Stay tuned and check the blog frequently for more blood orange recipes.

Done with the science and let’s talk about what is required to make this delicious blood orange poke cake.

All purpose flour -The base for the cake.

Baking powder and baking soda - leavening agents

Milk - taste enhancer, as well as emulsifier

Condensed milk - adds sweetness, enhances flavor and texture

Taylor and Colledge vanilla extract paste - adds the best vanilla flavor to the cake

Blood oranges - The star flavor component of this cake. Juice and zest are used in this recipe

Agar agar powder - vegan gelling agent to make jello

Sugar - Sweetens the plant based jello

Salt - enhances flavor

Butter - The fat used for the cake

Heavy cream - To frost the cake

Powdered sugar - To sweeten the frosting

How many servings are in this cake?

This cake made in an Anolon pan makes about 16-20 servings depending on the size it is cut into. This is a great size to make for any special occasions like your spring party!

Can this recipe be scaled up?

Yes, this recipe can be scaled up or down based on your requirements. Make sure to bake in a proportional pan size when scaling up or down.

Welcome to #SpringSweetsWeek 2023 hosted by Heather from Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks! The sun is shining, the weather is getting warmer, and we are celebrating the beginning of spring with plenty of spring sweets and a fun giveaway! This year 20 food bloggers from around the country are sharing over 75 sweet recipes that are perfect for spring. So get ready to enjoy amazing spring treats like cupcakes, cookies, pies, jams, and even a few beverages! We share recipes from #SpringSweetsWeek on Pinterest! Make sure you follow the board to see all the delicious recipes shared this week. 

Thank you to our #SpringSweetsWeek sponsors that are helping us give away some great prizes. Thank you to Melissa's Produce, Anolon, Taylor and Colledge, and Selefina Spices for your generosity and support. We have an incredible giveaway with four amazing prizes and would love it if you would take a moment to read about it and the prizes that you can win! 

Prize #1:  A Fresh and Dried Organics Basket from Melissa's Produce.

A box of fresh and dried fruits.

One winner will enjoy an abundance of fruit with Melissa’s Fresh and Dried Organics Basket. This hand-woven basket holds a delicious combination of fresh and dried Organic fruits and is carefully wrapped with cellophane and finished with a colorful ribbon. Melissa's Produce has everything from common apples and bananas to exotic passion fruit and kumquats. 

Prize # 2:  A $30 Gift certificate to Selefina Spices.

3 spice jars and a spoon with spices on it.

One winner will enjoy a $30 gift certificate to buy all their favorite spices for cooking and baking! Selefina Spices sells an assortment of spices gathered using dedication and care with which we’ve curated their online tea collection. With our decades of experience sourcing products and establishing global connections their mission is to be able to bring you fresher, higher-quality spices and seasonings at lower prices. 

Prize #3:  A selection of 4 extract pastes from Taylor and Colledge.

Five tubes of extract pastes

One winner will receive a selection of extracts to include almond, lemon, organic vanilla bean, and lavender. In 1897, Taylor & Colledge won its first award for excellence in vanilla. Since then, the Taylor & Colledge commitment for unsurpassed quality has earned its reputation as one of the world’s finest producers of vanilla.

Prize #4:  AnolonPro Bakeware 2 Piece Set of Half Sheet Cookie Pans.

2 cookie sheets

One winner will win a 2-piece set of 13-inch x 18-inch half sheet baking pans for cookies!  These aluminized steel professional sheet pans deliver unmatched durability and heat conduction for incredibly reliable results and are oven safe to 550°F.  You'll be able to bake all your favorite cookies to perfection. Anolon Pro Bakeware gives you professional grade bakeware at affordable prices.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you are on the look out for more fun and delicious eggless breakfast/desserts for your spring party, look no further. Here are the amazing ones from the blog.

Makes 16-20 pieces

For the Cake

All purpose flour - 3cups and 2 tbsp
Salt - 3/8 tsp
Baking powder - 3 tsp
Baking soda - 1.5 tsp
Butter 3/4 cup or 1.5 sticks
Condensed milk - 1.5 can (400g each)
Milk - 1.5 cup
Apple cider vinegar- 3 tbsp
Vanilla paste - 2 tsp
Blood orange zest - 1.5 tbsp

For the Blood Orange Jelly 

Water - 1 cup
Blood orange - 1/2 cup juice filtered
Agar agar - 1 tsp
Sugar - 5 tbsp

For the Frosting

Heavy cream 2 cups
Powdered sugar - 1/2 cup
Vanilla paste -1/2 tsp
Blood orange zest - 1 tsp


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Add the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda to a bowl. Mix.

Add butter and condensed milk to a bowl and beat well. Add the milk and Taylor & Colledge Vanilla extract paste. Beat well.

Add the flour, two to three tablespoons at a time, beat to a smooth consistency.

Add the apple cider vinegar, and blood orange zest. Mix.

Spread a little butter on Anolon 9X9-in baking pan and dust with flour. Pour the cake batter on to the pan. Bake for 52 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Cool the cake completely. Level the cake.

Poke holes on the cake with a skewer.

Heat water and sugar. Then add the agar agar powder. When it is completely dissolved, remove from the flame. Cool for a couple of minutes.

Add the blood orange juice, mix. Let it cool for 4-5 minutes.

When the blood orange jello solution is cool and about to set, pour onto the cake evenly.

To make the frosting: Add the cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla paste. Beat until stiff peak forms.

Frost the cake. Sprinkle some blood orange zest. Cut into 16-20 slices. Serve.

Monday #SpringSweetsWeek Recipes

  • Banana Spice Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting by Family Around the Table
  • Blackberry Lavender Cake by Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks
  • Easy Glazed Lemon Ginger Scones by Blogghetti
  • Easy Mini Cheesecakes by Art of Natural Living
  • Funfetti Conchas by Karen's Kitchen Stories
  • Gluten Free Lemon Lavender Icebox Cake by Frugal & Fit
  • Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream by Kate's Recipe Box
  • Key Lime Bars by Jen Around the World
  • Key Lime Coconut Thumbprints by A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures
  • Lavender Linzer Cookies with Kumquat Marmalade by The Spiffy Cookie
  • Lavender Madeleines by Jolene's Recipe Journal
  • Lemon Blueberry Upside Down Cake by Cheese Curd In Paradise
  • Lemon Carrot Loaf Cake by Sweet Beginnings
  • Lemon Lime Dessert Crepes by Cindy's Recipes and Writings
  • Lime Pink Peppercorn Cookies by That Recipe
  • One Pan Chocolate Cake by A Day in the Life on the Farm
  • Orange Creamsicle Poke Cake by Cookaholic Wife
  • Pink Peppercorn Cookies by Palatable Pastime
  • Rosemary Pine Nut Cornmeal Shortbread by Shockingly Delicious

  • Disclaimer for non-alcoholic recipes: 
    Thank you #SpringSweetsWeek Sponsors: Selefina Spices, Anolon, Melissa’s Produce, and Taylor and Colledge for providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for #SpringSweetsWeek recipes. All opinions are my own. The #SpringSweetsWeek giveaway is open to residents of the United States who are 18 years of age or older.   All entries for the winner will be checked and verified. By entering you give the right to use your name and likeness. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. Four (4) winners will be selected. The prize packages will be sent directly from the giveaway sponsors. The #SpringSweetsWeek Bloggers are not responsible for the fulfillment or delivery of the prize packages. Bloggers hosting this giveaway and their immediate family members in their household cannot enter or win the giveaway. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or any other social channel mentioned in the #SpringSweetsWeek posts or entry.


    1. So cool! My niece loves science and baking so this will be a fun one to make with her!

    2. I love making poke cakes and the Angel Face loves being my sous chef. I think I'll make this recipe with her next time she comes.

    3. I love poke cakes! Blood oranges are one of my favorites so I'm sure this would be tasty.

    4. Thanks for the science lesson!! I had no idea.

    5. I always love how creative your recipes are! This poke cake sounds perfect!

    6. As a Scientist by day, my favorite part is your lesson on chemistry in this cake! If only I had a slice to eat while you explained it.

    7. I am loving this cake! I love the flavors and the science lesson!

    8. This sounds so fascinating and delicious

    9. wow this jello cake is so satisfying! I could have this every day!

    10. I've never used agar agar for a poke cake. I'll have to give this a try!

    11. Baking is science and this just proves it! What a fun and delicious looking cake.

    12. Well, this has made me want a blood orange cake!

    13. Poke cakes rock the spring and summer here. Can't wait to try yours