This is the best chocolate & orange cake! This rich and decadent chocolate cake is naturally flavored with oranges! It is packed with citrus flavor thanks to orange zest and orange juice. It's so simple to make!
Want to Save This Recipe?
Enter your email & I'll send it to your inbox. Plus, get great new recipes from me every week!
By submitting this form, you consent to receive emails
This recipe was originally published in July 2021. It has since been updated with new images and a new frosting recipe.
Who else loves a chocolate orange at Christmas time? This chocolate & orange cake is just like that but in cake form!
Made with my favorite super soft and moist chocolate cake recipe, and topped with the fudgiest chocolate sour cream frosting, it's naturally flavored with orange juice and orange zest!
The chocolate with the fresh oranges just gives the perfect balance of sweetness and tartness. This chocolate orange cake is amazing for birthday parties, Christmas, dinner parties or whenever you want a big hit of chocolate!
Tell me about this recipe!
- Simple - this is a really easy recipe to make, you don't need any fancy equipment or ingredients.
- Rich Frosting - this is my absolute favorite chocolate fudge frosting made with sour cream and fresh oranges.
- Fluffy Cake - because the chocolate cake is made with oil instead of butter, it stays soft for days!
- Naturally Flavored - both the cake and frosting are naturally flavored with oranges.
- Buttermilk: I love using buttermilk in cake recipes to make it super moist, don't skip out on this!
- Orange Juice: since I was already getting oranges to get zest, I also squeezed the oranges to get fresh orange juice. You can however use store bought orange juice if you prefer
- Oil: the chocolate cake is an oil based cake - meaning no butter is added to the cake batter. This gives you an extra moist cake. You can use vegetable oil, sunflower oil or canola oil - you want to use an oil that as no flavour and not much colour to it.
- Cocoa Powder: I'm using dutch processed cocoa powder in both the cake and the frosting.
- Chocolate: chop up a chocolate bar to make the chocolate orange frosting extra rich and delicious!
How to make this recipe
One: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease and line two 8" baking pans. Combine your flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer.
Two: In a large jug, whisk together your buttermilk, oil, eggs, vanilla, orange zest and orange juice. While the mixer is running, slowly pour in the wet ingredients into the dry. Then pour in your hot water and mix until smooth. Be careful as it's a lot of cake batter!
Three: Pour the batter into your prepared cake pans, making sure they are of equal weight, and bake for 35-40 minutes. A toothpick inserted should come out clean. Let them cool completely while you work on the frosting.
Four: Melt your chopped chocolate in the microwave. Set aside so it can cool down.
Five: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand held mixer, combine the room-temperature butter with the confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy. This takes 2-3 minutes.
Six: Add in the cocoa powder and beat on low speed until just combined, then increase to medium and beat for 2 minutes. Add the sour cream, melted chocolate, zest of an orange and 2 teaspoons of orange juice. Beat until smooth. Assemble your cake and enjoy!
How to assemble a chocolate & orange layer cake
Make sure the two cake layers are completely cool. Place one layer down on your plate or cake stand. Spread a large amount of the chocolate orange frosting on top of this cake layer. Place the second cake layer on top.
Apply a thin layer of frosting, this is called a crumb coat and helps seals in any crumbs! Apply that thin layer around the sides and top of the cake, then place in your fridge or freezer for 15 minutes to firm up.
Frost the cake with the remaining frosting. I like to use a bench scraper or a small offset spatula to smooth out the sides and top. Or to get a more rustic look, use a small spoon to create swoops and swirls!
Decorate the cake by adding orange zest on top, topping it with chocolate orange slices or real orange slices!
- I highly recommend using a weighing scale and measuring out your ingredients the metric way. It makes a huge difference to your baking and is the most accurate way to bake!
- I make sure that all of my ingredients are at room temperature before I start the recipe, so pull out all of the ingredients (including the buttermilk!) before you start baking.
- Give yourself plenty of time to make the cake. You don't want to frost a still warm cake, if you do that then the frosting will become too warm and soupy. You can make the cake layers the day before and wrap them tightly in plastic wrap.
- I like a more subtle orange taste in this cake, but feel free to add more orange zest or a few drops of orange extract!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, chocolate and oranges are an amazing combination! They balance out each other perfectly.
Yes! Make the cake layers ahead of time. Once cool, wrap each layer in plastic wrap. You can do this the day before assembling the cake. I don't recommend making the frosting ahead of time though.
Keep the cake in the fridge for up to 5 days, bring to room temperature before eating
Yes! Freeze the cake for up to 3 months and let it defrosting overnight in the fridge. Let it come to room temperature for an hour or so before eating the cake.
Make your own buttermilk by adding 1 tablespoon of lemon juice/white wine vinegar to 1 cup of milk. Let it sit for 5 minutes before using.
More Chocolate Cakes You'll Love
Chocolate & Orange Cake
- 2x 8" cake pans
- 1 cup hot water
- ¾ cup cocoa powder
- 1 ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 eggs room temperature
- 1 ¾ cup all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup buttermilk room temperature
- 0.5 cups vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoon orange juice
- 6 oz dark chocolate chopped
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 1 cup cocoa powder dutch processed
- ½ cup sour cream room temperature
- zest of an orange
- 2 teaspoons orange juice
- Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C. Grease 2x 8-inch cake pans with butter, then line the bottoms with parchment paper.
- Combine the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment. Set aside.¾ cup cocoa powder, 1 ¾ cup granulated sugar, ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, 1 ¾ cup all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 2 teaspoon baking soda
- In a large jug, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, orange zest and orange juice and vanilla¾ teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 eggs, 1 cup buttermilk, 0.5 cups vegetable oil, 2 tablespoon orange juice, oranges
- While the mixer is on low speed, slowly pour in the ingredients in the large jug
- While the mixer is still running, slowly add the hot water and mix. Your batter will be very thin. Make sure the mixer is on your lowest speed so it doesn't splash everywhere1 cup hot water
- Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted
- Allow the cakes to cool completely before removing from pans.
- Melt your chocolate in a microwave, stirring every 10 seconds so it doesn't burn.6 oz dark chocolate
- In your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar on low speed until well combined.1 cup unsalted butter, 2 cups confectioners' sugar
- Turn the speed to high for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.
- Add in your cocoa powder and beat on low, then increase the speed to medium for 1-2 minutes.1 cup cocoa powder
- Add your sour cream, melted chocolate, orange juic, orange zest and salt and mix once more.½ teaspoon kosher salt, ½ cup sour cream, zest of an orange, 2 teaspoons orange juice
- Once the cakes are both completely cool, you can assemble the layer cake. Place one cake layer on your cake plate or cake stand. Add a large scoop of the chocolate orange frosting on top and spread over the top. Add the second cake layer on top. Apply a thin layer of frosting around the sides and the top of the cake. Place in the fridge or freezer for 15 minutes to set the crumb coat.
- Frost the cake with the remaining frosting and enjoy!