Moist and Easy Chocolate Orange Cake
This Moist and Easy Chocolate Orange Cake is made from layers of fluffy yet decadent chocolate cake that is infused with fresh orange zest and orange juice baked in the batter. Sandwiched between the layers is a rich and easy to make chocolate buttercream that is also used to frost the outside of the cake. Simple yet impressive, any chocolate lover will love this cake!
You might think that the combination of chocolate and orange is a little strange- when I first tried it I did! But after making these chocolate orange shortbread, and these chocolate orange cupcakes, I am now a orange and chocolate lover!
The deep richness of the chocolate cake pairs beautifully with the refreshing brightness of orange. The orange flavor is a delicious undertone in this cake recipe but there’s no escaping it. You have to try it to see what I mean! As a professional baker, I am often experimenting with my recipes and different flavors, and this one is truly not to be missed.
What I also love about this recipe is how easy it is to make. We have simple directions of mixing wet and dry ingredients together to make a cake batter. The difference lies in the addition of fresh orange zest and orange juice to add a refreshing twist to the taste.
This recipe makes a 2 layer 8″ cake. If you want to make it into a 6 inch cake you don’t have to alter the recipe. Just separate the batter evenly into 3 6″ cake tins, instead of 2 8″ ones. My favorite cake pans are from Wilton because they are light colored which means they distribute heat more evenly than dark coated pans.
Check the cakes in the 6″ cake pans after 28 minutes.
Choose your own cake pan adventure and let’s get baking!
Ingredients you need
- Granulated Sugar – Provides sweetness and moisture to the cake while also aiding in the tenderizing of the crumb during baking.
- Orange Zest and Orange Juice – Infuses the cake with a vibrant citrus flavor, adding a refreshing and aromatic element to complement the richness of chocolate. You can use bottled juice for the batter.
- All-Purpose Flour – Serves as the base structure of the cake, giving it a light and airy texture while holding all the other ingredients together.
- Cocoa Powder – Not dutch cocoa- use natural unsweetened like Hersheys.
- Baking Soda and Baking Powder – Act as leavening agents, creating air pockets in the batter to help the cake rise and achieve a soft, fluffy texture.
- Salt – Enhances the overall flavor profile by balancing the sweetness and intensifying the taste of both chocolate and orange.
- Eggs – Add richness and moisture, as well as acting as a binding agent to hold the ingredients together.
- Buttermilk – Contributes to the cake’s moistness and tenderness while also providing a subtle tangy flavor that complements the orange zest. See below how to easily make your own.
- Vanilla – Elevates the overall taste with its warm, aromatic notes.
- Neutral Oil – Ensures the cake stays moist and tender, adding richness and depth to the overall taste of the dessert.
HOW TO MAKE CHOCOLATE ORANGE CAKE
First you need to prepare for baking so spray your pans with a good quality baking spray like baker’s joy. You want one that has flour added so that it releases easily. Preheat your oven to 350° F.
We’ll start by adding the sugar first into a bowl and zesting the orange over it. This is the best way to zest any citrus fruit. Doing it this way ensures you save all the essential oils and don’t risk losing any when transferring from a plate.
Then add the rest of the dry ingredients- flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix on low speed until fully combined.
To the dry mixture, add each egg and mix until fully combined after each. Slowly pour in the milk, vanilla, orange juice, and oil. Mix the cake batter on medium speed for one minute or just until combined.
Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pans evenly. Bake for 35-40 minutes (for 8″) or until the tops of the cake are fully set, and the cake begins to pull from the sides a bit. Let the cakes cool completely.
Cake Texture & Decorating
This cake has a very loose and thin batter so don’t get worried. It will result in a really fluffy cake! Because it’s so fluffy, I recommend putting it in the freezer once cool, for about 20-30 minutes before you level off the tops, it makes a lot of crumbs!
Then freeze again for another 10 minutes before you start filling and stacking the cake. This will really cut down on a mess.
To frost the cake like I did here, use the back of a spoon to swoop the frosting all around.
To garnish you can buy or make dehydrated oranges to take it over the top! They are super simple to make.
All you have to do is slice 1-2 oranges 1/4″-1/2″ thick. Pat them dry and preheat the oven to 200° F. Place the slices on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 4 hours. That’s it!
Once you frost the cake you can stick them on wherever you like, just like in these photos!
- For accurate measurement, fluff the all-purpose flour with a spoon, then gently spoon it into the measuring cup, and level it off with a straight edge to prevent packing the flour. This makes sure you don’t over pack the flour which can affect the recipe.
- Room temperature eggs and buttermilk will bake more easily into the batter, so take them out of the fridge in advance or warm them up gently in a bowl of warm water for 5 minutes before adding them to the mixture.
- Once the cakes are done baking, allow them to cool in the pans for about 10 minutes before flipping them over onto a wire rack. This will make sure your cake stays intact. If you flip it too soon, the cake can fall apart from the heat.
If you dont have buttermilk- you can make your own! Measure one cup milk- any kind, and take out 1 tbsp replace it with 1 tbsp of lemon juice or white vinegar and let it sit for 10 minutes. Voila! You just made your own buttermilk.
STORAGE AND FREEZING
Storing: Store the cake at room temperature for up to 2 days in an airtight container or cake tray. If you want to keep it fresh for a longer time, store it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Bring it back to room temperature before serving.
Freezing: For freezing, it’s best to freeze the cake layers separately. Wrap each cooled cake layer individually in plastic wrap and then place them in a freezer-safe resealable bag or container. Ensure there is no excess air to prevent freezer burn. The cake layers can be frozen for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to use them, thaw the layers in the refrigerator overnight before assembling the cake.
WAYS TO ENJOY
- Top with fluffy Orange Buttercream for a lighter presentation.
- Drizzle the frosted cake with Bourbon Caramel Sauce for an extra layer of flavor and sweetness.
- Enjoy with a cold glass of Caramel Iced Coffee as an afternoon treat.
Moist and Easy Chocolate Orange Cake
- 2 ½ cups (500 g) granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp (2 tbsp) orange zest, plus 1 more for garnish
- 2 ½ cup (312.5 g) all purpose flour
- 1 cup (86 g) cocoa powder
- 2 tsp (2 tsp) baking soda
- 1 tsp (1 tsp) baking powder
- ¼ tsp (0.25 tsp) salt
- 3 (3) eggs, at room temp
- 1 cup (240 g) buttermilk, room temp
- 2 tsp (2 tsp) vanilla
- 1 cup (180 g) orange, juice cooled
- ⅓ cup (78.86 ml) oil
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. In a large bowl or in the bowl of a hand or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine the 2 ½ cup sugar, and zest the orange over it.
- Then add the 2 ½ cup flour, 1 cup cocoa powder, 2 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder, and ¼ tsp salt. Mix on low speed or whisk lightly to combine.
- With the mixer on low speed or with a wooden spatula add in room temp eggs one at a time and mix until fully combined.
- Slowly pour in the 1 cup milk, 2 tsp vanilla, 1 cup orange juice and ⅓ cup oil. Mix on medium speed or mix by hand for 1 minute until evenly combined.
- Spray 2, 8” round cake pans with baking spray that contains flour. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans evenly, and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the tops are set and the cake starts to pull off from the sides. Cool.
- Top with chocolate dipped oranges or orange zest as garnish. You can also add more orange zest on top of the chocolate filling for the cake before placing the other cake down.
- See the post for how to make dried orange slices in the oven.