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!
Cakey, moist and fudgy… mmm!
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.
Don’t overbake it!
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!