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This chocolate orange cake puts a twist on the classic. And the best part? It's super easy. You can make it in one bowl, you don't need a hand mixer or a stand mixer, and it comes out perfect, every time. If you're a chocolate and orange lover, you can't go wrong with this cake!
I'm also including a recipe for chocolate orange frosting, which is super delicious and heightens that orange flavor we're going for. You can also make this cake in a 9x13" pan, or as cupcakes. I haven't tested this recipe as a gluten-free option, just an FYI.
Why This Recipe is Awesome
- It's literally so moist (sorry) and it stays that way for days. Seriously. I actually think this cake is better on the second and third day than it is on the first day.
- It's so easy. One bowl, 35 minutes in the oven, and you're done (plus the icing, which is also easy).
- The only special ingredient it requires is some orange extract.
- The secret ingredient is coffee - it makes the chocolate flavor so intense, which is the perfect foil for the orange.
- It freezes beautifully.
- You can put your own spin on it. Swap out the orange extract with mint, almond, or whatever flavor you want!
We've got all the usual suspects, plus a couple of extras.
- Flour: I use all purpose for this recipe.
- Baking soda & baking powder: for the lift.
- Salt: you need it. It enhances all the other flavors.
- Cocoa powder: for all that chocolatey goodness.
- Coffee: to enhance and intensify the chocolate flavor (it doesn't taste like coffee, I promise. But if you're worried about it, you can sub out for hot water).
- Sugar: obviously.
- Vegetable oil: to keep it soft and moist. Don't use butter. It's actually only 80% fat, 20% water, where oil is 100% fat. It makes a difference!
- Orange extract: I'm just using a hint of it for this recipe - you can certainly add more if you'd like a stronger flavor.
How to Make Chocolate Orange Cake
This recipe is really straightforward, and easy. So let's get too it!
- First, preheat your oven to 350 F.
- Next, we're going to prepare our two 8" cake pans (for other ways to bake this cake, see the variations section below). Trace the bottom of the pans on some parchment paper, and cut them out. Spray the pans with cooking spray, and line with the parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, combine all your dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cocoa). Whisk to thoroughly combine them all.
- Now, add all your wet ingredients except the coffee (eggs, oil, sugar, milk, vanilla, and orange extract). Stir to combine, but don't overmix. Add the coffee, and stir to combine again.
- Equally divide the batter into the cake pans. Cook for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Allow the cakes to cool completely before you remove them from the pan. (You may want to run a knife around the edges, just to loosen it up. Once it's completely cooled, you can frost the cake.
Make the Frosting
Again, the frosting is pretty straightforward. Also - you can definitely use room temperature butter instead of margarine in this frosting if you'd rather.
- Using a hand mixer, combine the cocoa, powdered sugar, and margarine. Add the coffee gradually, until the icing is the right consistency (For me, I've found this to be about six tablespoons - half a cup), but it could be different depending on your climate). Add the orange extract and beat until smooth.
- Ice your cake: the easiest method I've found is to put a crumb layer on the cake, place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, and then add your final layer of frosting.
- Garnish with dehydrated orange slices.
For sheet cake
Pour the batter into a 9x13" ban lined with parchment paper on the bottom. Cook at 350 F for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Top with the same frosting.
Place cupcake liners in a muffin tin. Fill ¾ full with batter, and then bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. This will make about 24 cupcakes. Top with the same frosting.
A frosting with the same flavor profile as the cake (so chocolate and orange) goes really well, and adds an extra layer of that orange flavor.
If you want to make sure a cake is done, test it by placing a toothpick in the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is cooked.
Cake Baking Tips
- PUT PARCHMENT PAPER ON THE BOTTOM OF THE PAN. Do not skip this step. I implore you. This is the one thing between you and a cake that falls apart when you try to get it out of the pan. I also tend to use quite a bit of cooking spray. We're not taking any chances.
- Adjust for altitude. This cake recipe has come out for me wherever I've made it, but that may not be the case for you. If you live at higher altitude, you may want to cut back on the baking powder by ½ tsp, and cook it faster at a higher heat (this should help it from rising too much).
- These cakes actually come out fairly level for me, but try and keep them as level as you can. If that means you need to cut some off the top, so be it! It makes it so much more stable in the end.
- Put the cake layers in the fridge or in the freezer before you frost them. This helps keep the crumbs where they should be (although I recommend a crumb layer of frosting as well).
- Double up on the frosting. If you're a frosting lover, like me, you can easily double the frosting recipe and not have it be totally overwhelming.
More Decadent Desserts
Chocolate Orange Cake
- 8" cake pans
- Cooling rack
- Hand mixer (for the frosting)
For the Cake
- 1¾ C flour
- 2 C sugar
- ¾ C cocoa powder
- 1½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs room temperature
- 2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 C milk
- 1 tablespoon orange extract
- ½ C vegetable oil
- 1 C hot coffee
For the Frosting
- 5⅓ C powdered sugar
- ½ C margerine
- 1⅓ C cocoa
- ½ C coffee
- 1 teaspoon orange extract
For the Cake
- Preheat your oven to 350°F.
- Prepare your baking rounds: Trace the bottom of your 8" rounds onto parchment paper. Cut the circles out, and then line the bottom of your pans with them. Spray the parchment and the sides of the rounds with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Combine the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Whisk until combined.
- Add the eggs, milk, oil, orange extract and vanilla. Slowly stir until just combined. Add the coffee, and stir until just mixed. There might be a few lumps - this is totally fine.
- Pour the batter (it should be quite runny) equally into each pan. Place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans completely, then turn upside-down on a cooling rack to get them out, then frost.
For the Frosting
- Combine the icing sugar, cocoa, and margarine in a large bowl. Using a stand mixer or a hand mixer, start on a low speed to mix the frosting. Gradually add the coffee, 2 tablespoons at a time. You may not need to use the full amount. Add the orange extract. Gradually increase speed until all the ingredients are combined, and the icing has a smooth and silky consistency. (See notes).
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