This chocolate orange cake is super moist and filled with orange flavor from fresh orange juice and zest. It’s a single-layer cake that’s easy to make with a soft, tender texture and rich chocolate flavor. I topped it with my favorite chocolate orange frosting for the best flavor combination.
My homemade cake is perfect for any celebration, a birthday party, or for chocolate lovers! My family went crazy for it, eating it right out of the pan. It’s the best cake topped with an intense flavor of orange throughout. It’s genuinely one of my favorite dessert recipes!
Why You’ll Love This Cake
Table of Contents
- Each bite is filled with rich chocolatey flavor and zesty orange notes that come through. The combination of orange zest, orange juice, and a sour cream chocolate orange frosting creates an irresistibly moist and flavorful cake.
- It’s a moist chocolate cake with a fluffy, tender texture.
- It’s an easy-to-make sheet and can be made into round cake layers or 8-inch cake pans.
How to Make A Chocolate Orange Cake
If you prefer, scroll to the bottom of the post, where you’ll find the recipe card, measurements, and directions.
Here are a few baking tools you’ll need to make this cake:
Shopping List and Ingredient Notes
This cake is made with simple ingredients at your local grocery store.
Granulated Sugar – We use white sugar to sweeten this cake. You can also use monk fruit sweetener if you prefer a healthier option.
All-Purpose Flour – This is the best flour for this recipe. You can also use whole wheat or gluten-free 1:1 baking flour. Measure the flour correctly when baking.
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder – We prefer the classic Hershey cocoa powder for this cake. You can use any unsweetened cocoa powder you like.
Baking Soda and Baking Powder are essential for making the cake light and fluffy as they act as leavening agents.
Salt – A pinch of salt will enhance the flavor and balance the sweetness.
Eggs – Use large organic eggs when making this cake.
Whole Milk – We prefer to use whole milk in this recipe, but you can also use 2% if that’s what you have.
Vegetable Oil – We prefer vegetable oil for this cake as it creates a moist and dense texture. You can also use canola oil too. Coconut oil would also work. However, it would change the flavor of the cake.
Vanilla Extract – Use pure vanilla extract for best results.
Boiling Hot Water – This will help to create a richer, more intense chocolate flavor.
Orange Juice and Zest – This recipe will need the whole orange! I use fresh orange juice and zest to create a natural orange flavor. Both of these combined give the cake an incredible orange flavor. If blood oranges are in season, you can use these too!
Sour Cream Orange Buttercream
I’ve altered my favorite sour cream chocolate frosting for this cake! The recipe is cut in half, and we have added 2 tbsp of orange zest and 1 tbsp of orange juice. It goes so well with this cake! You can also make a classic buttercream frosting and add orange juice and zest.
How to Store
Have leftovers? Here’s how you can store this cake to keep it fresh:
Refrigerate: This cake can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days. It will stay fresh and moist when kept in an airtight container.
Freeze: This cake can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Ensure it’s stored in an airtight container or wrap it in plastic to prevent freezer burn. Once you’re ready to enjoy the cake, leave it at room temperature for a few hours before serving.
Cake Garnish Ideas
There are several ways you can garnish this cake with oranges:
- Candy Oranges – You can buy candied orange slices at the store and use them to lay over the top of the cake.
- Dehydrated Oranges are great for decorating the cake and look beautiful layered over the chocolate frosting.
- Fresh Oranges – You can use freshly sliced oranges to decorate the cake. We recommend patting them down first to remove some of the juice.
- Orange Zest – This has the most delicious flavor and fragrance. It also looks beautiful on the cake!
- Orange edible flowers, such as pansies, would look beautiful on this cake.
Cake Recipe Variations
If you are looking for some delicious variations on this cake, here are a few ideas:
- Add chopped nuts such as walnuts or pecans to the batter.
- Make it gluten-free by using gluten-free baking flour.
- Top with a chocolate ganache instead of frosting.
- Add 1 cup chocolate chips to the batter or frosting.
- Add a few tablespoons of instant espresso powder to the batter for a mocha flavor.
- Drizzle the cake with an orange glaze for added sweetness.
This delicious cake is excellent for special occasions, holidays, or a treat. Serve this as an It’s also perfect for potlucks, birthdays, family gatherings, and more. No matter what the occasion is, this cake will be a hit!
Chocolate Orange Cake
Chocolate Orange Cake Batter
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 5 tbsp orange zest
- 3/4 cup boiling water
Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
- 4 ounces unsalted butter
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, confectioners sugar
- 4 ounces sour cream
- 2 tbsp orange zest
- 1 tbsp orange juice
Chocolate Orange Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Measure the dry ingredients (including the sugar) into a mixing bowl. If using a stand mixer, use the fitted bowl for the dry ingredients.
- In another bowl or liquid measuring cup add all of the wet ingredients (including the orange zest and juice) except the boiling water which gets added at the end.
- With the mixer on low, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is mixing. Turn the mixer to medium for about 30 seconds, then back to low.
- With the mixer on low, slowly add 3/4 cup of boiling water. The batter will have a liquid texture to it and that’s how you want it to be.
- A 9×13 baking pan is perfect for this cake. Oil it well and use some parchment paper on the bottom so the cake will be easy to remove.
- Bake for 30 minutes until the cake has risen in the center.
Chocolate Orange Sour Cream
- Over low heat, melt the butter and chocolate together in a small saucepan until the chocolate is melted.
- Pour into an electric mixer with the whisk attachment on low speed.
- Add in the vanilla and powdered sugar and whisk. It will get really thick, but keep whisking. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl, so you don’t have lumps of chocolate in your finished frosting.
- Add in the sour cream, orange juice, and zest, and continue to whisk until smooth. It might curdle but whisk through the curdle to get a smooth texture.
- Once the cake is cooled, you can add this decadent frosting over the top.
- If you want to make this recipe into cupcakes, here’s how you can do it:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a cupcake tin with paper liners.
- Follow the exact instructions for making the cake batter.
- Fill each cupcake liner 2/3 full with batter and bake for about 15 minutes.
- Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Chocolate and orange are a match made in flavor heaven. This timeless pairing marries chocolate’s rich, indulgent taste with orange’s bright, tangy essence, elevating simple desserts into culinary delights.
The secret to a moist cake is the ratio of the dry and wet ingredients. Other things help, such as oil, eggs, and boiling water. The boiling water will help the chocolate bloom and create a rich flavor and moist texture.
We prefer fresh orange juice and a lot of orange zest for this recipe. However, you can also use the orange extract for a subtle flavor.
This cake can be made ahead of time. Prepare the cake according to instructions and allow it to cool completely before wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerating for up to 3 days. You can freeze the cake for up to 3 months; ensure it’s completely sealed in an airtight container or wrap.
One of the main reasons for a dry chocolate orange cake is over-baking. Pay attention to the baking time and leave it in the oven briefly. Another factor that can contribute to a dry cake is the recipe itself. A good chocolate orange cake recipe should have enough sugar for moisture and a tenderizing agent like milk, oil, and eggs. Fortunately, my recipe has all these components, ensuring your cake turns moist and delicious.