I feel choc-orange is a flavour combo that divides a lot of people. For instance, I love it but my partner HATES it with a passion. I needed to make a cake for my friend Heather’s upcoming birthday and I had this idea rattling around my head for a while so I took a shot and asked her if she liked choc-orange. She replied with that she didn’t like choc-orange. She loved it. So it was a green light for this three tiered, behemoth of a cake.
I won’t lie to you, it is time consuming to make. Not arduous or painful, just a lot of time. The cake layers themselves take hardly any time as they’re baked in shallow tins but it’s more the layering and waiting for the crumb coat/ icing layers to set that takes time. But again, this isn’t a very strenuous cake to bake. So if you’re ready for a leisurely long bake and aren’t opposed to the delightful flavours of chocolate and orange, give this a go.
Chocolate Cake Layers
175 grams unsalted butter (room temperature)
3 cups plain flour
2 cups caster sugar
1 1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup light sour cream
3/4 cup buttermilk
4 eggs (room temperature)
1 cup hot water (from a recently boiled kettle)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
3 lined and greased 20cm round cake tins
Cream Cheese Filling
250 grams cream cheese (room temperature)
75 grams of unsalted butter (room temperature)
2 cups of sifted icing mixture
zest of 1 orange
2-4 drops orange food dye (optional)
Chocolate Fudge Buttercream
150 grams unsalted butter (room temperature)
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4-1/2 cup hot water (from a recently boiled kettle, depends on how much water the cocoa wants to absorb that day)
2 cups icing mixture
splash or two of milk
(you may have leftovers of this buttercream, depending how heavy handed you go. Not to worry though, simply pop the leftovers in a ziplock bag and freeze for up to a month. Simply defrost and rewhip for a later date!)
Firstly, in a mixing bowl, add the cocoa and hot water. Whisk this together until there are no lumps. Next pour in the olive oil and set this mixture aside to cool while you get on with the rest of the cake.
In a free standing mixer (or a hand held one) add the butter, sugar and vanilla. Beat on high until this butter mixture is light and aerated.
Next add in your eggs two at a time. Now you could be sensible and do one at a time but I’m too impatient. Beat this on high until the eggs have fluffed-up the butter mixture and are well combined.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Alternately, add this with the sour cream and buttermilk until you have soft and airy batter.
Add the cooled chocolate and oil to this batter and gently whisk. Be careful to not over beat as it could result in a tough cake.
Fill the three prepared cake tins evenly with the batter and bake for 20-25 minutes at 180 degrees. Check after 20 with a skewer to see how they’re doing. You want a skewer to come out clean with no crumbs. Once baked, cool on wire racks and get on with your filling.
In a clean bowl, add the cream cheese, butter and orange zest. Beat on high for around 3 minutes until it is light in colour. Now adding food colouring is optional of course, but I chose to do it so there was a contrast in layer. I have great nostalgia with the Queens food colours and love the colour chart at the back.
Add the food dye and slowly incorporate the sifted icing sugar until you have a silky mixture. It may seem a little too runny but don’t worry; there’s enough butter in there to harden up once it goes in the fridge. Grab your cooled cake layers and begin assembling.
For stability I added four wooden skewers to ensure the cakes didn’t slide off each other. Cover the whole cake with the remaining filling. Don’t worry about being neat here, this is just a crumb coat to seal the cake in, tidying up will come later so don’t freak out and think you’ve ruined it’s finished exterior. Set this in the fridge for at least two hours so it firms up nicely.
While your cake is setting in the fridge, get started on the fudge buttercream. In a small bowl or cup add the hot water and whisk until a stiff paste is formed and set aside. In a mixing bowl beat the butter until it is pale in colour and fluffy. Slowly add in the sifted icing sugar and then add the cocoa paste.
Beat this on high for 5 minutes. I added roughly 2 tablespoons of milk to this mixture to make it less stiff. You’ll have to eyeball this as sometimes it will need it and sometimes it won’t, it depends on how soft your butter is or the temperature outside etc. You want it to be like the picture below.
Now it’s time to smooth out your cake. I don’t have a palette knife so I simply used a butter knife, dipped in a glass of hot water and ran it along the edges and top of the cake to remove any excess icing and smooth any bumpy surfaces.
Once this is done, ice with the buttercream icing and decorate how you choose. I had some Terry’s Chocolate Orange laying about so I used them to fancy it up a bit but you could easily leave it plain and simple in all it’s glory. Perhaps a few strands of orange rind to hint to what lays beneath. Whatever floats ya boat really.
This cake is quite sweet, I mean it has a fair bit of icing sugar going on plus sugar in the cake but the orange cream cheese filling does seem to temper this a bit. We enjoyed this giant cake at my friends birthday dinner and then I took some leftovers home for my parents. Now my Dad is a man who wouldn’t spit on a chocolate cake if it was on fire and he LOVED this cake and requested it for his own birthday. So go figure. You either love choc-orange or you hate it. Glad to say it made many happy. Happy baking!