Chocolate Orange Cake
It’s citrus season all over and I can’t get enough. I really don’t get sick of citrus and need it all year round and this is one way to incorporate some more citrus and vitamin C into your diet quite easily and deliciously. Joking! I think it’s totally counteracted by all the sugar but you can tell yourself whatever you like to justify a second or third slice of this beauty!
If you haven’t already read any of my posts, you will quickly see that I love to experiment with different recipes and am inspired by so many talented and amazing chefs and pro bakers. I am neither of those but a self-taught home cook and baker like most of you out there. So although I do create a lot of content and recipes - they are all based off of others that I have used and loved and made my own. This recipe was inspired by Zoebakes. I love her! And if you don’t already follow her on Instagram and you love baking and tutorial style videos - you need to start. Her IG stories and pictures are the best. She breaks down everything clearly step by step making complex baking feel more approachable. I’m doing a spin of her banana role cake this weekend and am super excited about it. Check it out on her ‘highlights’ on IG.
Anyways she described this orange chocolate cake in one of her posts and I needed to try it. I checked the recipe of a friend that she referred to and the cake recipe looked almost exactly like the Beatty’s chocolate cake by Ina Garten that I love and make all the time. I used that recipe plus Ina’s to adapt and experiment and come up with this one. One thing I never felt totally comfortable with in Ina’s recipe was the use of raw egg yolk in the frosting. It has always turned out fabulous but there was always this thought in the back of my head - what if someone I serve this to gets violently ill?? Anyways like most crazy negative thoughts - that never ever happened, thank goodness, but you see why I would seize an opportunity to switch up the frosting a little. So I used the other recipe by Lifesafeast frosting and switched out the mascarpone for cream cheese because I wasn’t going to spend 15 extra dollars (CA) for it (so expensive over here) and I also loved the idea of a little extra tang in the frosting enhancing that citrus flavour. Glad I did! It was a total hit at the game night party I brought it to.
It’s a very simple recipe and the result is a very moist cake and creamy frosting that I couldn’t stop licking from the bowl. I was asked by a few - how citrusy is this cake? Well it’s not subtle but it’s not a punch in the face either. Even those who weren’t fans of orange things at that party couldn’t stop eating it bite after bite. There is something special that the orange brings to a cake - more of a soft pleasant and sweet flavour. Not like lemon infused baked goods which can be sharper and a little stronger with a more citrusy edge. I love those too though so don’t get me wrong, but I hope that gives you a better picture of what the difference is and how this cake tastes.
Such a simple cake to whip up as well. No sifting taking place and things just get dumped in the bowl and mixed. Easy peasy! Freshly squeezed and strained juice is obviously the best for flavour but boxed 100 percent pure orange juice is just fine too. Orange extract is pretty easy to find here these days so I know that in North America it should be even easier to locate. If you absolutely can’t find it just use extra vanilla in its place but the overall cake may lose a little intensity of that citrusy and orange flavour. It will still be delicious and fabulous – just a little more subtle. The candied orange slices add a nice decorative touch and can be made in advance. Recipe for those is below but you definitely don’t have to make them especially if you’re piping a cool design on the cake with frosting. I also sprinkled some shaved dark chocolate over for a little extra something, but that is optional.
We loved this cake and it felt like a special occasion kind of cake without the fuss that most of those kinds of cakes require. Hope you give it a try and love it just as much as we did!
For the cake
- 1¾ cups (210g) all purpose flour
- 2 cups (396g) granulated sugar
- ¾ cup (63g) of unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1½ tsp (6g) baking powder
- 1½ tsp (9g) baking soda
- 1 tsp (5.69g) salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup (244g) whole milk
- ½ cup (99g) coconut oil or other vegetable oil
- 1 tsp (4.7g) of pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp (4.7g) pure orange extract
- 1 cup (236.5g) hot freshly squeezed or prepared 100 percent pure orange juice
For the Chocolate orange cream cheese frosting
- 2½ cups Powdered sugar (approx 284 grams)
- 8 tbsp (113g) of butter or one stick at room temperature
- ½ cup Unsweetened cocoa powder (approx 50 grams)
- 4 tbsp (59g) of very hot orange juice
- ¼ tsp (1.17g) vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp (1.17) of orange extract (optional but gives the frosting a little more pronounced orange flavour)
- 4 oz (113g) of cream cheese at room temperature‐ can add a little more to suit taste and texture of frosting (approx half or ¾ of a regular pack)
Note: All conversions are approximate
Preheat oven to 350°F
Grease two 9 inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper rounds, grease the parchment and then lightly dust with some cocoa powder
In a large mixing bowl whisk all the dry ingredients together until everything is well incorporated.
Then add the eggs, milk, oil and extracts and beat with a mixer until everything is well incorporated approximately 2 minutes.
In a small saucepan or in the microwave, heat the orange juice until just boiled and then pour it in the batter very slowly while you fold and stir the batter by hand. Do this until it’s very well blended. It will be very liquid.
Divide batter evenly between both cake pans and bake for approx 35‐40 minutes until the centre is set and a toothpick tester comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow cakes to cool on cooling racks for 10‐15 minutes
Run a knife around the edges of the cakes and invert onto cooking racks to cool completely. Peel off parchment paper when cooled. While cakes cool make the frosting. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar together with a mixer.
Then add the cocoa powder, hot orange juice and the extract, if using, and beat until well blended scraping sides of bowl as needed.
Beat in the cream cheese until smooth and whipped.
Refrigerate until firm so that it’s easier to spread
To assemble, place one layer on a serving plate and then frost the top of the first layer, stack the second cake on top of the frosting gently and then frost the top layer as well. You can leave it rustic like that with two thicker layers of frosting in between layers and on top or you can spread the top layer of frosting bringing down the sides to evenly coat the sides. Either way is delicious.
Refrigerate cake until ready to serve. Frosting gets very soft and gooey at room temperature, but is fabulously delicious. Decorate with candied orange slices if you wish and sprinkle cake with shaved dark chocolate. Both of these are optional.
Make ahead instructions:
Prepare cakes and frosting 1 day in advance. Keep cakes at room temperature, covered tightly/wrapped in plastic wrap after they have reached room temperature. Refrigerate prepared frosting in an airtight container, then bring to room temperature when ready to frost cake
Freezing unfrosted cake (great for if you want to make both layers and save one for another occasion):
Make sure your cakes are completely cool before freezing. When you’re certain that your cake is cool, wrap it in plastic wrap (two layers is always recommended) or store in resealable plastic freezer bags. You can freeze a cake in its pan if you like. Just wrap the pan entirely in plastic wrap then aluminum foil. You can keep unfrosted cakes in the freezer for 2 months. When you’re ready to eat, defrost in the fridge until thawed.
How to convert two 9 inch cakes to cupcakes:
- Keep recipe and baking temperature the same.
- Yields approx 24-30 cupcakes from an average cake recipe (one that would usually make two 9-inch rounds or one 9×13-inch cake).
- Bake the cupcakes between 15-20 minutes. I usually check doneness at the 15 minute mark and keep a close eye on them after that.
For the candied orange slices
- 1 cup (237g) of water
- 2 cups (396g) sugar
- 10‐12 slices of orange that are very finely sliced either with a sharp knife or a mandolin and deseeded (2‐3 oranges allowing for error)
- Blanch the orange slices in boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes and then drain and plunge them into an ice bath (bowl of ice and cold water)
- Let them cool in ice bath for a few minutes and carefully remove them and set them aside
- In a shallow large pot or pan combine the sugar and water and heat to medium and stir until sugar is dissolved.
- Bring to a simmer and add the grapefruit slices in a single layer.
- Reduce heat to a very low simmer let the slices simmer (not boil) for 1 hour
- Remove the slices from the syrup and set them on a cooling rack over a cookie sheet or paper towels to cool and dry completely. This could take from 12 to 24 hours so plan ahead if using to decorate cakes or anything else
- I made the orange twists by cutting the slices down the middle halfway through the slice and then twisting the edges of the slices to shape. Be creative and have some fun. The leftover slices make for great snacks!