This moist Citrus Hibiscus cake recipe is made with hibiscus sugar and full of citrus flavor! It is also super easy to make and requires one bowl and can be made without a mixer.
Dried Hibiscus Petals are very common here in Nigeria. They are used to make a very popular drink called “Zobo” and locally, hibiscus petals are called “Zobo leaves” in Nigeria.
I actually didn’t realize dried hibiscus petals were the same as “Zobo leaves” until after graduating from university (For shame!)
Embarrassing fact aside, these leaves have a bit of tang and pair well with sugar. I thought it would be a good idea to use it to bake a cake.
I was however pretty nervous about making just plain hibiscus cake so I decided to pair it with citrus flavour- this was after an extensive research on suitable flavour pairings for hibiscus.
The citrus flavour- created with lime, lemon and orange – paired so well with the hibiscus flavour to create the overall sweet- tang flavour of the cake. I highly recommend having this cake with a cup of tea!
Making the Hibiscus Sugar
One of the main ingredients of this citrus and hibiscus cake is the hibiscus sugar, which you can make at home. All you need to do is pulse 1/4 Cup (20g) of dried hibiscus petals with 3/4 cup (150g) of granulated sugar. You should only pulse in your blender or food processor for a short time (4-5 quick pulses should be fine). You want to still have some speckles of the hibiscus petals in your sugar. This adds to the final look of the cake. You can make the sugar days before baking or you can make it at the time of baking- there is no right or wrong way.
Making the Citrus Hibiscus Cake Recipe: What you need to know
- This batter of this citrus- hibiscus cake is blue! This is probably the most surprising and exciting aspect of this cake. The blue batter is as a result of the hibiscus sugar mixed with the other ingredients.
- Use unwaxed citrus for this. I have found unwaxed citrus to be the best type of citrus for zesting. Don’t forget to ensure you check for freshness and you use the juiciest citrus available.
- All your ingredients should be at room temperature. Cakes bakes with room temperature ingredients bake evenly and a lot better and also rise properly.
- Weigh your ingredients. This recipe was tested and developed using a kitchen scale and the teaspoon/tablespoon measurements. This method is a lot more consistent and accurate than using cups. (Trust me on this one).
- You can use a mixer to mix this batter. Just make sure you don’t overmix your batter. Mix until the ingredients are combine.
- You can make your own buttermilk by adding 2 tablespoons of vinegar to 505g of whole milk.
- This Citrus and Hibiscus cake freezes very well. It also comes to room temperature very quickly (due to the absence of butter).
- This cake recipe can bake in either a 12 inch by 8inch tray pan or the standard 13inch by 9inch pan.
- This citrus hibiscus cake is also a big cake with a bit of height so you have to bear this in mind when it comes to cutting portions.
- This cake serves 12 but if the portions are too big you can always increase the servings to get smaller portions.
A Quick Note About the Butter cream
- I have paired this citrus hibiscus cake recipe with a smooth, melt in your mouth buttercream. The hibiscus concentrate was used to only color the buttercream and as such is optional.
- To make the concentrate, boil 1 tablespoon of dried hibiscus petals with 8 tablespoons of water. Once cool, pass the concentrate through a sieve to remove the petals. Use your liquid concentrate in the buttercream recipe.
- I have had the cake with and without the buttercream. I would say, you can have the cake without the buttercream.
- The buttercream acts as sweetness to balance off the tang in the cake but if you want just the cake without the buttercream, that’s totally fine.
If you have any questions about this recipe, please let me know and I would be happy to help out.
I hope you try this recipe and if you do, share your creation with me on Instagram by using the #yenumcakery or tagging me directly. Would love to see your cake!
Citrus Hibiscus Cake Recipe
- 12×8 inch tray pan or 13×9 inch tray pan
For the Cake
- ¾ Cup (170 grams) granulated sugar
- ¾ Cup (166 grams) hibiscus sugar see the post on how to make yours
- 4 cups (480 grams) plain flour sifted
- 4 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¾ Cup (140 grams) vegetable oil
- 2 Cups (505 grams) buttermilk room temperature
- zest and juice of 1 medium lime, 1 medium orange and 1 medium lemon
For the buttercream
- ½ (120 grams) unsalted butter softened
- 2 cups (240 grams) icing sugar
- 2 tbsp hibiscus concentrate see blog post on how to make yours.
- Pinch of salt
Make the Cake
- Preheat your oven to 180°c/356°f and line a 12×8 inch tray pan with baking paper. You can also grease your pan with a cake releaser.
- Mix together all your dry ingredients; sugars, flour, lemon, lime and orange zest, baking powder and baking soda. In a jug, whisk together all your wet ingredients; oil, lime, lemon and orange juice and buttermilk.
- Add your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients and mix until all the ingredients have been combined. Your batter should be the colour blue with speckles of red (from hibiscus petals) and yellow-green speckles (from the zest of your citrus). Scrape down the sides.
- Pour batter into your prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
- Leave to cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing and allowing to cool completely.
Make the Buttercream
- In the bowl of a mixer with the whisk attachment, beat together your butter and icing sugar for 2 minutes.
- Add your hibiscus concentrate and continue to beat your buttercream on medium high speed for about 10 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides.
- Once your cake has cooled down completely, spread your buttercream on top of your cake.
- Sprinkle some dried hibiscus petals on top to decorate.