Perfect for layering, this dark chocolate orange cake is rich and slightly dense. Topped with chocolate orange frosting, it's an excellent winter cake, with fresh orange in both the cake and the frosting. If you like a Terry's chocolate orange, you'll love this.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Oil: any light-tasting oil can be used in place of vegetable oil, even olive oil.
- Cocoa: use either natural or Dutch process cocoa for this recipe, since it's leavened only with baking powder.
- Cake flour: substitute plain white flour if you can't get cake flour. If making that substitution, use weights, because all-purpose and cake flour have different volumes.
- Orange: try to get an unwaxed organic orange, as you're only using the zest. In any case be sure to give it a good wash beforehand to avoid any waxy flavours.
- Make it dairy-free: use a good creamy non-dairy milk like soy to replace the whole milk.
How to Make Chocolate Orange Cake
Step 1: warm the milk, then pour it over the chopped chocolate and let it rest for a minute.
Step 2: whisk to combine until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
Step 3: mix the sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl.
Step 4: add the dry ingredients and orange zest to another bowl and mix to combine.
Step 5: mix the chocolate milk mixture into the egg mixture.
Step 6: add the flour mixture to the bowl and beat on low speed until just combined.
Step 7: divide the batter evenly between two cake tins.
Step 8: bake for about 30 minutes, then cool fully before decorating.
- Use cake flour: if possible, stick with cake flour for this recipe. It makes for a much lighter, softer crumb than all-purpose.
- Cool completely: the cake needs to be fully cool before decorating. If it's still warm, the frosting will melt and you'll end up with crooked layers at best, or a completely collapsed cake at worst.
- Decorate with orange: this can be peels of zest as pictured, or orange segments, chocolate orange pieces, or even candied peel.
We frosted the middle layer and outside of the cake with the chocolate orange buttercream. You could use a combination of that and chocolate ganache, or even cream cheese frosting – that, with some orange zest added, would be delicious. The swirls on top are done with a large star piping tip.
To boost the orange taste and add an extra special touch, try brushing the cake layers with orange liqueur before assembling and decorating.
Terry's chocolate oranges are very popular in Canada, the U.K., and elsewhere, but we don't know if they're available in the U.S.! They're usually only available around Christmas anyway so we've chosen not to decorate with the slices here, but it was the inspiration behind this cake.
How to Store
Storage: if frosted, keep the cake in a sealed container in the fridge for 2-3 days. Note that it does become slightly hard and fudgy when chilled, but can be brought back up to room temperature before serving. Plain cake layers can be kept at room temperature, well wrapped, for 24 hours before frosting.
Freezing: place the cake in an airtight container or wrap well in aluminum foil and freeze for up to two months, then thaw in the fridge before serving. This works very well for the plain cake but we don't recommend wrapping it if frosted (use a container).
Is it better to use oil or butter for cake?
It really depends on the recipe, but oil can make for a moister cake. It's best to use in recipes like chocolate cake that don't need the extra flavour boost that comes from butter.
Why do my eggs need to be room temperature?
If eggs are cold when added to cake batter, it can cause curdling or splitting. While this doesn't necessarily ruin the cake, it can impact the texture. Room temperature eggs are much easier to mix in.
How can I quickly cool a cake?
Remove the cake from the tin and place it on a wire rack. Set it in a cool place with a good air flow - you can use a fan - but don't refrigerate. The steam will cause problems for your fridge.
If you make this Chocolate Orange Cake recipe or any other cake recipes on the Baked Collective, please take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It’s such a help to others who want to try the recipe. For more baking, follow along on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.
Chocolate Orange Cake
- 2 8-inch (20 cm) cake tins
- Measuring cups and spoons or a digital kitchen scale
- Large mixing bowl
- 2 Mixing bowls
- Baking spray
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 ounces dark chocolate finely chopped
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 medium Navel orange
- 2 ½ cups cake flour
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Chocolate orange buttercream for frosting
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Spray two 8-inch (20-cm) round cake tins with baking spray. Line the tins with parchment paper and set aside.
- Warm the milk to a low simmer in a small pot set over medium-low heat. While the milk is heating, finely chop the chocolate. Place the chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and pour over the hot milk. Let sit for one minute, then whisk smooth. Set aside.1 cup whole milk, 2 ounces dark chocolate
- Add the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to a large mixing bowl. Mix well to combine. Add the chocolate milk and mix again.1 ½ cups granulated sugar, ¾ cup vegetable oil, 2 large eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Zest the entire orange directly into a medium mixing bowl, being careful not to include the white pith. Add the cake flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Whisk well to combine. Set aside.1 medium Navel orange, 2 ½ cups cake flour, ¼ cup cocoa powder, 3 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt
- Add the flour mixture to the bowl. Mix the batter together on low speed until just combined. The batter will be quite lumpy. Divide the batter between the two prepared cake tins.
- Place the cakes in the preheated oven and bake for 30-33 minutes at 350ºF (180ºC) or until a tester comes out clean. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack. Cool for 10 minutes, then turn the cakes out of the tins to cool completely. Layer and decorate however you like.