Finding a really good chocolate cake is a precious thing. And not always so easy, which is why I was THRILLED that this made up (by yours truly!) chocolate orange cake recipe turned out just as yummy as I’d hoped.
I don’t wish to sound like a prima donna (as poor Mr. Scrummy was recently accused of being after he wrote an email to a B&B to check they served real coffee!), but I’m often disappointed by layer cakes I order in cafes. They always look delicious, but rarely are. They might be dry, or lacking in taste, or too sweet, or all of these things – just not half as good as I hope them to be.
So making a simple layer cake that’s good (really good) has been on my ‘blog bucket list’ for quite a while. To be honest layer cakes are not really ‘my thing’ so I knew this would be a bit of a challenge. My only other attempt was this white chocolate, coconut and lime truffle cake – absolutely delicious, although I say it myself, but not exactly a winner in the looks department!
You may have already noticed that most of the sweet things around here are chocolate things, so no surprises that I chose to make a simple chocolate layer cake first. What might be surprising to you, though, is that I made up my own recipe. I really did. Of course I did plenty of research to try to get the proportions right, but this recipe is truly mine. I was pretty astounded when it turned out really well on my first attempt!
What I was aiming for was a proper light spongy cake, not a brownie cake, or soufflé, or chocolate torte, or anything else. But at the same time I wanted it to be nice and moist, a bit fudgy even. And honestly, that’s exactly what I ended up with. I just couldn’t believe it.
I’m not sure what the secret was. The milk I added, perhaps, or the bit of melted chocolate as well as cocoa? The salted butter, the spoonful of instant coffee to intensify the chocolate-y taste, or reducing the amount of sugar a bit to give it a richer, darker taste? Or maybe the rich, creamy chocolate orange ganache that sinks into the two layers of the cake a bit and makes it just a little bit gooey in the middle? I really don’t know, but somehow I hit the nail on the head.
I hope I’ve managed to sell this chocolate cake to you already. Just try really hard not to overcook it, because it would be a dreadful shame to see it dry out and lose the moist fudgy-ness I love about it. This is definitely going on my regular cake rotation – not that I have one, but you know, starting from today … 😉
Chocolate orange cake (really good, really simple)
For the cake layers
- 1.75 ounces cocoa
- 1 teaspoon instant coffee
- 10.5 tablespoons butter (salted) softened
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1.75 ounces chocolate melted
- 2 cups self-raising flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
For the orange ganache
- 7 ounces chocolate
- 3/4 cups heavy cream / double cream (UK / Australia)
- 1 orange (zest only)
- Preheat the oven to 180C/355F (170C/340F fan oven) and line the bottom of two 8-inch loose-bottomed cake tins with a circle of baking paper. Grease the pans lightly with butter, then set aside.
- In a large bowl, blend the cocoa and coffee with enough hot water to make a smooth paste.
- Add the butter and sugar to the bowl and cream together well with a hand-held electric mixer.
- Add the eggs, milk and melted chocolate and mix again until smooth.
- Fold in the flour and baking powder, then divide the mixture between the two cake pans. Bake for about twenty-five minutes or until the cakes are risen and pulling away from the sides of the pans. Remove from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.
- Meanwhile, to make the ganache, melt the chocolate, then stir in the warmed cream, and then the orange zest*. Let cool in the fridge until a nice spreading consistency. Use half of the ganache to sandwich the two cakes together, then spread the rest over the top.
*I usually melt chocolate in the microwave in 30-second bursts. If you don’t have a microwave, just melt it in a bowl over a pan of boiling water (but don’t let the bowl touch the water).
You can warm the cream separately. Or just add it to the melted chocolate cold like I did, then pop the bowl in the microwave for 20 seconds or so. When it comes out, stir well to blend.
Please note that when I first created this recipe I was working in metric (UK) measurements, which is why some of the US measurements might look a bit random! The recipe still works fine, of course!