Julia's Zesty Orange, Saffron And Yoghurt Drizzle Cake

Put the kettle on! This mouth-watering cake from Julia Busuttil Nishimura is the perfect afternoon treat.

Deceptively simple to make, yet with all the frills to impress your friends, this not-too-sweet cake is an instant crowd-pleaser. It even keeps well for the next day (if it lasts that long!)

Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Julia Busuttil Nishimura’s mouth watering orange and saffron cake! Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

This cake can be baked using a 23cm or a 20cm tin. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

The yoghurt drizzle icing is more like a glaze, says Julia, so it’s ok if it’s runny! Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Brew the tea, this cake is the perfect afternoon treat! Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Julia Busuttil Nishimura
18th of February 2022

This is simple and not-too-sweet cake, which looks like pure sunshine thanks to the golden hue from the threads of saffron and the orange zest. I rub the orange zest into the sugar first too (it helps to release all the beautiful oils and ensures the scent of orange perfumes the whole cake!) With a simple yoghurt drizzle and topped with slivered pistachios and flecks of orange zest, this cake feels and looks super special, whilst being super easy to make!

I’ve suggested a 20cm baking tin for this recipe, but it can also be made with a 23cm tin (it just results in a flatter cake). So, if you don’t have a smaller tin, know the larger one will be fine too. Similarly, if you don’t have a stand mixer, a mixing bowl and wooden spoon are more than up to the job!

The yoghurt in this cake will keep it incredibly moist, and it’s still great the day after (if it lasts that long!). Some yoghurts are runnier than others, so when making the icing, I suggest adding a little bit at a time until you reach your desired consistency. It’s more a glaze than anything, so a little runny is fine, too!

This deceptively simple recipe will wow your friends. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

This moist cake will be just as good the day after, if it lasts that long! Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.


(Serves 8)

Saffron, orange and yoghurt cake

Pinch of saffron threads
200g caster sugar
Zest and juice of an orange
200g unsalted butter, room temperature
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
150g natural full-fat yoghurt
250g self-raising flour

Yoghurt drizzle icing

150g icing sugar, sifted
50g full-fat natural yoghurt
Silvered pistachios, to serve
Orange zest, to serve


Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin.

Place the saffron threads in a small bowl and pour over two tablespoons of boiling water. Allow to steep for 5 minutes.

Place the sugar and orange zest in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment. Rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers until damp and fragrant. Add the butter and beat until very pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the vanilla, yoghurt, orange juice and saffron (including the water it steeped in) and continue to mix. The mixture may split at this point, but will come together once the flour has been added.

Fold the flour in by hand until just combined. Spoon into the prepared tin and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the top of the cake springs back when touched. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin and transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling.

Whisk the icing sugar and yoghurt together in a medium bowl until smooth. You may not need all of the yoghurt, so add just a little at a time until you reach your desired consistency. Pour over the cooled cake and top with silvered pistachios and orange zest. Allow to set, then serve.

What else I’m cooking with…

I am very much enjoying fig season! Simple salads of tomato, figs and mozzarella or goat’s curd. Or, grilled bread with ricotta and thyme topped with roughly torn figs. So fleeting and wonderful.

What else I’m eating…

We’ve been down the beach and cannot get enough of Fish by Moonlite in Anglesea. The BEST fish and chips, but also beautiful grilled fish and salad, plus a lovely selection of fresh fish you can buy and cook for yourself. I bought a whole snapper and cooked it simply with lemon and fennel in the oven. Summer eating at its finest!

Click here to download recipe printout

Click here to download recipe printout

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