Simple layered Chocolate Orange Cake

This unbelievably moist chocolate orange cake showcases rich layers of chocolate cake filled and iced with a juicy and decadent chocolate orange buttercream.

A chocolate orange cake recipe decorated with candied oranges and figs on a cake stand.

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I like chocolate like most everyone else but there is something about holiday chocolates that make me giddy with excitement when I see them lining the shelves this time of year. Toblerones, Toffifee, Pot of Gold Boxes and Terry’s Chocolate Oranges.

This orange chocolate cake is a playful take on the cherished flavour of a Terry’s Chocolate Orange. Made with a moist chocolate cake with a hint of orange that is a cinch to make. layered and iced with a decadent and creamy orange flavoured chocolate buttercream that has you swooning for one more piece!

Not a fan of orange-flavoured things… no worries I am the same with banana-flavoured things. Check out this Mexican Sheet Cake recipe instead! If you want a double-layer cake just double the recipe for a slab cake or make the same recipe in cake pans.

Ingredients for an orange chocolate cake

Chocolate and Orange Cake Ingredients You’ll Need

  • All-purpose flour – you can also use cake flour if you wish but since I am layering the cake I like to use all-purpose flour because it slightly denser.
  • Granulated sugar – add sweetness and structure
  • Cocoa Powder – bring on all the chocolate!
  • Baking powder and soda – needed to give cakes thier rise when baking.
  • Salt – activates the leavening agents and is a flavour enhancer
  • Eggs – the glue that holds the cake together and adds richness and some moisture.
  • Milk – adds flavour and moisture
  • Vegetable Oil – creates a nice soft moist cake crumb. Grapeseed, canola, or safflower oil are also great substitutes. Any oil with a subtle almost flavourless taste will work.
  • Orange oil- this can be found at most bulk food stores or places where you would find cake decorating or chocolate moulds. If you can’t find it you can subsitute it with orange extract but will need 4X more volume.
  • Orange zest – add additional fragrance and flavour
  • Orange juice – adds moisture to thin out the batter and incredible flavour
  • Boiling water – science that is why! More on that below but it helps intensify the chocolate flavour as well as creating a light fluffy cake texture.
An Orange cake recipe made with chocolate.

What is Orange oil?

Orange oil is the oil extracted from the peels of oranges. It can be used for many uses and is considered an essential oil. It can be used for a number of different things including cleaning, as a household cleaner, relieving an upset stomach, lifting your mood, reducing pain and inflammation and many more things.

Is orange Oil the Same as Orange Extract?

Orange oil and extract are made from extracting oil from the rinds of oranges but are different in their potency. Orange oil is more concentrated than orange extract so you will need less. Extracts are often mixed with alcohol and water.

It is important to read the label when using substituting because one measure of orange extract may be substituted with 1/2 of a 1/4 of what you need in orange oil.

If you can’t find either orange oil or extract you could also use an orange flavoured liqueur such as Cointreau in this recipe.

A slice of a chocolate and orange cake.

How to Make Chocolate Orange cake

Heat your oven to 350°F.

Grease two 9″ cake pans and then lightly flour them. To do this just toss in a small handful of flour and then shake and tilt the pans guiding the flour around the edges to fully coat them.

To a large bowl add in the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix well to combine.

Add the eggs, milk, vegetable oil, and orange juice to the bowl. Using a hand mixer beat the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients for about 2 minutes. This will not only combine the two but will add air to the batter which will create soft fluffy cakes.

Next, add the orange zest, orange oil and boiling water to the cake batter and mix in with a spoon.

Pour the cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of each cake comes out clean.

Let the cakes cool on a cooling rack for a few minutes and then carefully turn them upside down onto the cooling rack to cool completely which will take an hour or two. You may wish to turn them over onto a layer of parchment paper as well to avoid sticking. I usually don’t bother but if you don’t they may stick a little to the rack and leave a bit behind.

Why Is Boiling Water Added to Chocolate Cakes?

There are 4 reasons for adding boiling water to this orange chocolate cake recipe which are broken down in more detail on

  1. To intensify the chocolate flavour – when boiling water is added to cocoa the cocoa blooms producing a more flavourful and moist cake.
  2. Boiling water creates a moister cake which also means a smoother cake. If the cake isn’t dry and it won’t crumble and flake apart when icing so you get a prettier looking cake with a nice smooth icing.
  3. The cake will last longer and stay fresh longer. Why not sure… but science again!
  4. When baking soda is added to a cake it reacts first with the other ingredients. This reaction is what causes the cake to rise and the cake to become lighter and fluffier. When boiling water is poured into the batter it illicits another reaction with the baking powder creating even more lift!
Buttercream ingredients for an orange cake.

Chocolate Orange Buttercream Ingredients

  • Unsalted butter – softened to room temperature
  • Icing Sugar – or depending on where you live it is also called powdered sugar
  • Cocoa powder – again chocolate, nothing more to say here!
  • Milk – adds moisture and flavour to loosen up the frosting making it easier to spread. If you need more milk just add a tbsp at a time to get the consistency you want in your frosting.
  • Orange Oil – the flavour that makes this buttercream sing

Making the Orange Chocolate Buttercream

In a large bowl add the butter and beat on high until the butter is light and fluffy.

Add the remaining ingredients and use a hand mixer to beat on high until the buttercream is smooth and creamy and all of the ingredients are combined.

If you find that the icing is a little too thick or needs a little more milk to smooth it out add 1 tbsp at a time. You can always add more but you can’t take it out once it’s in the bowl!

If you mess up and end up adding too much milk and have an icing that is now too thin just add in a bit more icing sugar and/or cocoa powder to thicken it up. You really can’t go wrong here.

Assembling the Orange Chocolate Cake

So you have been patient and let your cake cool completely and are now ready to ice!

So first get your cake stand out or whatever dish you plan to serve your cake on. Then carefully move one of the cakes to the stand remembering the top of the cake may have stuck to the surface it was cooling on.

Use a flat icing knife to spread a 1/2″ – 3/4″ layer of icing over the top of the bottom layer of the cake. Make sure it is even all around and right to the edges.

Then place the remaining layer of cake on top of the icing.

A single layer of an easy chocolate orange cake.

Use the same icing knife and gently add a smooth thin layer of icing to the side of the cake. This is called the crumb coat. It is done to make sure that any stray little crumbs will get caught in this layer and not interfere with the layer everyone will see.

Next, add a thicker layer of icing over the top of this crumb coat filling with more where needed along the centre layer and bottom of the cake to create a smooth even finish of icing. If you want an even smoother more even finish than you can get with an icing knife you can use a bench scrape.

The bench scrape is wider and almost the depth of the cake so you will get one smooth even coating. I like my icing to look a little more rustic so I just use the icing knife. When adding the icing is also helps to use one hand to spin the dish that cake is one slowly while you keep your icing knife in place.

An overhead shot of a decorated orange chocolate cake recipe.

How to Store Cake

If you have a cake stand that has a lid that is the best if not you can always store it in a plastic plate and cover made for cakes. You can find these at most general stores like Walmart.

Or in a pinch use the trick my mom used to use and that is to use slices of fresh bread. Yup, you heard me! Take some fresh bread and secure a slice of bread with toothpicks to each side of the exposed cake where it was sliced.

The bread will dry out but below the bread, the cake will stay nice and fresh.

Cake can store this way for up to a week on the counter.

Can your Freeze Chocolate Cake?

Yes! But I would freeze it solid first and then wrap it tightly with saran or store it in one of those plastic cake containers for up to 5 months in the freezer.

Or if you are like me and need a good dessert now and then after dinner but don’t want to bake the whole day you can freeze individual pieces. To do this cut individual slices and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Place the baking sheet with the cakes slices flat in the freezer until each piece freezes. Then tighly wrap each piece with a double layer of plastic wrap and store in the freezer for up to 5 months. To thaw, unwrap the piece of cake and let it thaw on the counter during the day on a plate or a few hours before you want to dig in.

A chocolate cake made with orange having a slice taken.

Can this Chocolate Orange Cake Recipe Be made Into Cupcakes?

Of course! Just grease and flour a muffin tin or line each muffin cup with a liner and fill them up 3/4 of the way. Bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of a cupcake comes out clean.

Transfer the cupcakes to a cooling rack and let them completely cool before icing.

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A chocolate and orange cake on a stand decorated with oranges and figs.

Layered Chocolate Orange Cake

Alisa Infanti | The Delicious Spoon
This unbelievably moist chocolate orange cake showcases rich layers of chocolate cake iced with decadent chocolate orange buttercream.
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Cooling Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 55 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine North American
Servings 10 slices
Calories 739 kcal


For The Cake

  • 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp orange oil
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ cup boiling water

For the Buttercream

  • ½ cup unsalted butter softened
  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • cup cocoa powder
  • 5 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp orange oil


For The Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and flour two 9" cake pans.
  • In a large bowl add the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix well.
  • Add the eggs, milk, vegetable oil, and orange juice to the bowl and beat with a hand mixer for 2 minutes.
  • Stir in the orange zest, orange oil and boiling water.
  • Pour the cake batter evenly between the two cake pans. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and let rest on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the cakes from the pan and let them continue to cool on a cooling rack until completely cool. You may wish to line the cooling rack with parchment paper to keep the cakes from sticking.

For The Buttercream

  • In a large bowl beat the butter with a hand mixer until it is smooth and fluffy.
  • Add in the cocoa powder, icing sugar, milk and orange oil and continue to beat until it is smooth and creamy and all of the dry ingredients are combined. If the buttercream is too thick and you would like a thinner icing, add 1 tbsp of milk at a time to get the desired consistency.


  • Place one of the cakes on a serving dish or cake stand. Ice the top with an even layer with about a 1/2"-3/4" of icing making sure to ice right to the edges.
  • Add the other on top of the iced layer.
  • Using an icing knife add a thin layer of icing to the outside of the cake to seal in any loose crumbs. Then add a thicker layer of icing all around the cake and the top making sure to fill in the seam of the icing layer and the bottom edge of the cake so that edge of the cake looks uniform all the way around.
  • Decorate with orange slices, chocolates, cranberries or fresh holiday garland if you wish to make it look fancy.


Serving: 1sliceCalories: 739kcalCarbohydrates: 125gProtein: 9gFat: 24gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 62mgSodium: 514mgPotassium: 93mgFiber: 1gSugar: 97g


Orange Oil can be substituted for 4X the amount of orange extract. Adjust to taste.  Or you can use an orange liquor like Cointreau.
Store the cake covered for up to a week on the counter or freeze for up to 5 months. To freeze I recommend freezing the entire cake first before wrapping or by cutting individual slices. Place the slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze flat. Once the pieces are frozen then wrap tightly with two layers of plastic wrap.
To thaw, unwrap and let thaw at room temp on a plate for about an hour.
Please Note:

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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For the step-by-step version of this recipe, check out the How To Make Simple Layered Chocolate Orange Cake Story.

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For the step-by-step version of this recipe, check out the How To Make A Simple Layered Orange Chocolate Cake Story.

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  1. 5 stars
    Absolutely delectable chocolate orange buttercream. Love the blending of orange and chocolate flavors. Yum!

  2. 5 stars
    Your photos are jaw-droppingly gorgeous, first of all. I love the combination of chocolate and orange and they’re perfect in this pretty cake!

  3. 5 stars
    Wow, what a wonderful recipe! Rich and chocolatey, but not overly sweet – just how we like it! I used the orange extract and it worked really well! Thanks for the recipe!

  4. 5 stars
    I’m loving the orange and chocolate flavor combination in this moist, fluffy cake. Can’t wait to taste it.

  5. 5 stars
    I love how beautiful this cake is and how delicious it sounds. I love chocolate and orange, so I’m definitely going to be giving this one a try.

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