Make Ahead

My Chocolate-Orange Birthday Cake

January  7, 2011
3 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • Makes 1 9" cake
Author Notes

Happy birthday to me! Today is my birthday! We're invited to a dinner party and I offered to bring dessert. (Don't be horrified. Most of my friends don't bake, or if they do, they use a mix. I love to bake, and I'm kind of a snob about it. This was fun for me.) Cake and ice cream--what else? This is a single-layer, rich dark chocolate cake that I adapted from Gourmet--I increased the chocolate, and added the orange. It's covered with ganache and sprinkles! The cake is really sophisticated and the sprinkles add a bit of fun.

2021 note. Well, this is hard to believe, but 10 years later I made this again for my birthday. Only this time I was making it for dinner with a friend who has celiac. I'm happy to report that using Cup4Cup in place of the flour works fine. And my intention was to add weights, but I realized that Cup4Cup and flour might weigh differently so I will have to do that the next time I bake it. Also it worked well in an 8 inch pan, just took about 5 minutes more. —drbabs

What You'll Need
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered espresso
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 ounces butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces best quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
  • sprinkles for decorating
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter bottom and side of 9 inch cake pan (I used a springform pan.), then line bottom with a round of parchment. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, powdered espresso and salt into a bowl.
  2. With an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar in a large bowl at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla and orange juice and zest. Reduce speed to low and stir in flour mixture and milk alternating between the two. Don't over- beat. The batter may look curdled. It's OK.
  3. Pour batter into cake pan and smooth top. Bake until cake begins to pull away from side of pan and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Cool cake in pan 5 minutes, then invert onto a rack and cool completely, about 1 hour.
  4. When cake is cool, make the ganache. Bring cream to a simmer in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, then pour over chocolate in a bowl and let stand 1 minute. Gently whisk until chocolate is completely melted and blended with the cream, and the ganache is smooth, shiny and creamy.
  5. Ice the top of the cake with the ganache, and decorate with sprinkles. Have a happy birthday!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Jackie Clonan
    Jackie Clonan
  • phyllis
  • Lauryn Chun
    Lauryn Chun
  • Table9
  • nannydeb

37 Reviews

Sweet2Bad March 21, 2020
Beautiful, light, moist chocolate cake. Orange does not overpower the cake but is a polite visitor knowing its place. Paired with chocolate buttercream. Will try the ganache next time. 5 stars.
drbabs March 21, 2020
I’m so happy you liked it! Thanks!
judy August 1, 2017
seems a little light on orange flavor for chocolate orange-I would use orange extract or oil to bump it up!
brittanyrush November 19, 2014
how do you make it
drbabs November 19, 2014
Thanks--what do you mean, how do you make it? Are the instructions not clear?
brittanyrush November 19, 2014
it sound good
Jackie C. April 7, 2014
So moist, delicious, DECADENT!!!! This will go into my top 3 chocolate cake recipes! Wish I would have thought to add some Grand Marnier as Lauryn Chun did to make the orange flavor even more intense - next time!
mbobden May 31, 2020
Are your other 2 favorites on this site or can you offer links. This cake is a go to for me as well but several other chocolate cake recipes have come up short. Since we both love this one I thought your recommendations would be great. Thank you. Denise Venice, Fl
Jackie C. May 31, 2020
So nice for your request Denice. You will love both of the following:
Beatty’s Chocolate Cake — from the Barefoot Contessa, go to
Mocha Almond Fudge Cake — from Chloe Cascarelli (Vegan chef)
Both are very much worth making.
Emma G. March 12, 2014
My fiancé and I could have gobbled this down entirely together; unfortunately we had visitors & had to share. The only alteration I'll make next time is adding more orange zest or perhaps sprinkling some on top!
Frank March 1, 2014
Had several friends over for dinner and made this for dessert. Happened to have some leftover cab from dinner and sweet lord and all things heavenly! The two together were insanely delicious! Between the 5 of us we finished all but 1 slice (there were 16 total slices).
tulip549 December 1, 2013
This was very delicious. In an attempt to make it more healthy, I substituted coconut oil for the butter (1:1 ratio), although who knows how much more "healthy" that made it! ;)

You can really taste the orange- this was a good cake and I will be making it again.
drbabs December 6, 2013
I'm so happy you liked it. Thank you for letting me know.
phyllis February 24, 2013
When I saw the photo from Jenny's article, my tongue about exploded. I wanted to bake the cake right then. I had all the ingredients, including the espresso powder, but I held back. Tonight we are having a small- ish dinner and watch the Oscars party. My house smells like chocolate and orange and I'm holding myself back from devouring the cake. Thanks so, so much drbabs and Jenny.
drbabs February 24, 2013
Oh, Phyllis, thank you for making my day. I hope you and your friends enjoy it.
phyllis February 25, 2013
drbabs, Alas, the cake is no more. It was delicious; our guests loved it and left not a crumb. It couldn't have been easier, as well. Thanks again!
Lauryn C. February 16, 2013
Thanks for this wonderful, easy recipe. I added Grand Marnier for added orange flavors and sprinkled orange zest (instead of sprinkles) for easy dessert for weekday dinner party. Didn't know how easy baking and 'ganache' can be!! It will be my go to cake and gets the seal of approval from a self described 'non-baker'.
drbabs February 16, 2013
I'm so so glad you liked it. Thanks for letting me know.
Table9 May 15, 2011
I made this for my boyfriend's birthday today! He just loved it. Unfortunately, he is a cake only kind of guy so I 86ed the ganache. But when it is my birthday I will make sure he puts the ganache on for me! Lovely.
drbabs June 19, 2011
Hi Table9--I just saw this! I'm so happy you both enjoyed it! Thanks!
nannydeb January 13, 2011
I missed this! Happy Belated Birthday! Oh, and I always make my own birthday cake...
drbabs January 13, 2011
Thanks, nannydeb. Yes, I've found that baking my own birthday cake is the only way to avoid the grocery store bakery variety.
drbabs January 9, 2011
Thanks again, y'all! It's all gone now! Time to make salad!
hardlikearmour January 8, 2011
Happy Birthday! This cake looks and sound delicious, and the orange ice cream sends it waaaaay over the top.
TheWimpyVegetarian January 8, 2011
Yum!!!! Hope you had a great Birthday yesterday!! My husband LOVES chocolate (well, really, who doesn't?), and so I'll have to make this for him soon! Thanks for the recipe!
Midge January 8, 2011
This sounds great! Happy birthday drbabs!!
aargersi January 8, 2011
Happy Happy Day DrBabs! I hope you had a wonderful time to kick of another great year!!! Cake looks amazing!
drbabs January 8, 2011
Thank you all so much! This is why I love Food52!
monkeymom January 8, 2011
Happy Birthday drbabs! love the sprinkles.
luvcookbooks January 7, 2011
happy birthday! love chocolate and citrus... also sprinkles. great photo.