This recipe stands the test of time as one of the most delicious marble cakes with that wonderful combination that is orange and chocolate. It keeps well and freezes wonderfully, so you can make it ahead. I made a few tweaks to the original recipe and it's now even better than it was, with more flavor and a decadent chocolate ganache glaze!
Orange and chocolate are a fabulous pair and, if made into a cake, let's just say it's even better. One of my favorite cakes for a special occasion that also works as a snack cake if you eat it plain or dusted with powdered sugar.
My idea of chocolate and orange is usually a chocolate cake with orange flavor, be it zest or candied fruit or a glaze with orange juice. Here it's a hint of cocoa with the right amount of orange tartness.
About this recipe
As I mentioned before, I improved on the original recipe, mostly by increasing the orange flavor and adding a layer of unctuous chocolate glaze on top to amp up the chocolate flavor. Let me confirm that it worked very well.
This is a solid chocolate orange bundt cake with wonderful flavors that took me a long time to get to. It's my go-to recipe when it comes to citrus and chocolate. The crumb is moist and slightly dense but lighter than, say, our perfect chocolate cake with sour cream.
I wasn't consciously looking for it, or so I thought, but now I know that it was in the back of my mind, that recipe that will be good anytime I want to make a citrus bundt cake, with or without the marble effect, or a regular marble cake flavored with vanilla instead of citrus.
And, if you leave out the cocoa powder, you have a fantastic orange bundt cake recipe or orange cake recipe if you bake it in a round or sheet cake pan. Just saying.
- Orange: the main ingredient we use is orange zest. And an interesting amount, about two whole oranges. You can also use blood oranges.
- Orange liqueur or juice: I use Grand Marnier or Cointreau, but opt for juice if you don't want to use alcohol (it evaporates during baking).
- Cocoa powder: always use unsweetened like Hershey's unsweetened cocoa powder, Ghirardelli Premium baking cocoa, Scharffen Berger natural cocoa powder. And, in my experience, the dark ones are the best (this does not apply to the super dark used for making homemade oreo cookies known as dark cocoa powder).
- Unsalted butter.
- Sugar: the regular, white granulated sugar.
- Vanilla - I use pure vanilla extract or pure vanilla paste when available, but a good vanilla essence (artificially flavored) also works.
- Flour: you can use all purpose flour or cake flour.
- Baking soda: it's the only leavening agent used so make sure it's not expired. If it's clumpy make sure you sift it before adding it to the cake batter.
- Salt: I use kosher salt for my baking, but table salt also works.
- Eggs: fresh, large.
- Milk: I always use whole milk for a richer cake, but low fat also works.
Preparing the bundt pan
If you love making bundt cakes, you probably know the pain of not being able to remove it from the pan in one piece. It has happened to me many times!
There are several ways of dealing with this:
- Shortening and flour: use soft shortening to grease the pan, every angle, every nook and cranny until it's completely covered. Using your fingers is messy but effective. You can also use a brush. Sprinkle flour and rotate the pan to cover it completely. You'll have to do it to one side and then the other. Make sure you flour the center tube. Turn the pan upside down over the kitchen sink and smack lightly it against the edge. The excess flour will fall, leaving a thin layer behind. Your pan is ready to be filled.
- Cake goop or cake pan-release paste: it's one of my favorites, together with the shortening method above, because it's very effective. Mix equal parts (volume: cups or tablespoons) of shortening, flour and vegetable oil (sunflower or canola) to make a paste. Use it to coat the pan with a brush. Store it in an airtight container (I use a jar) for a month at room temperature or up to 3 months in the refrigerator.
- Butter and flour: I used this method for years, but now use one of the above-mentioned ones. Good if you don't like shortening. Use soft butter (not melted) to patiently cover the whole pan, every nook and cranny, every sharp angle and space available. I use a brush or my fingers. I then flour the pan and refrigerate it while putting together the batter. I take it out at the last moment when I need to fill it, and it goes cold into the oven. Not everyone has success with this method.
- Baking spray: use a spray labeled as having flour or specifically made for baking (as opposed to cooking). It has to have flour; otherwise, you have a high chance of the cake sticking when removing it. At least, that's my experience.
- Recipe: whenever I find a great bundt cake recipe that can be easily removed from an intricate bundt pan, even though I didn’t follow step 1 above, I cling to it like life itself.
Prepare the cake batter
It's a pretty straightforward butter cake and it's a large cake, so use an electric mixer and a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
- Creaming tips: the soft butter needs to be beaten for several minutes with the sugar to aerate it (incorporate air) and achieve a light and spongy consistency. So add the sugar gradually while beating and use a large bowl where you'll be able to mix all the ingredients comfortably, without them spilling. Image 1
- Eggs: they're added one at a time so they can be better incorporated. Mix each one well before adding the next one. Image 2
- Flavorings: in this case it's orange zest (orange peels) and vanilla (I used paste). They're added to the butter/egg mixture (before the dry ingredients) because they blend better with ingredients that have fat content. Image 3
- Flour mixture: it's comprised of flour, salt, and baking soda. All of the dry ingredients are sifted before adding them to the batter as it will help further to have a light crumb after the cake is baked. Also, don't over beat after adding flour as it might result in a tougher cake. Image 4
- Wet ingredients: in this case it's milk and it's added in parts, alternating with the dry ones, so that it melds well with the rest. Image 5
- Final batter: the cake mix is smooth and not very dense. Image 6
How to marble a cake
You need two different batter colors in order to get a marbling effect.
- Chocolate batter: a portion of the vanilla orange mix is transferred to a small or medium bowl and cocoa powder is added to create the chocolate part of this cake. Make sure you sift the cocoa as it's usually clumpy. You want a smooth preparation.
- Marbling: both batters are divided in half (eyeball them) and added to the prepared bundt pan. Make sure the chocolate batter is added in mounds and then lightly swirled with the tip of a knife. It's important to distinguish both colors, so don't marble them so much that they almost become one.
We'll be using a luscious ganache glaze that will drip down the sides not completely covering the cake. You can use different types of chocolate depending on how sweet you want it to be.
- Dark chocolate ganache: my favorite, the one I use for our perfect chocolate bundt cake. It's semisweet with just the right amount of sweetness that comes from the addition of some brown sugar and a touch of corn syrup.
- Sweet chocolate ganache: use half milk chocolate instead of all semisweet. It will just be as smooth and wonderful but that bittersweet edge will not be there. It's the one we use for my favorite cake ever, the hot chocolate bourbon cake.
- Organization: always read the recipe first and make sure you have all the ingredients, at the right temperatures, and also the rest of the equipment and space to make it. This will make the process so much easier!
- Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look the same or very similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer that is placed inside the oven (like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is at the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
- Sift the cocoa powder: this is important because it usually has clumps that will not dissolve during baking.
- Sift the baking soda: it can get clumpy when stored, so I urge you to always sift it before adding it to any baking preparation as it won't dissolve on it's own in the oven. And biting into it is not a nice experience.
- Alternate dry and wet ingredients: this is an important step when making cakes because we always want to level temperatures and densities. By adding part of the flour mixture, then part of the milk, and the repeating it until we add it all, we make sure it's all well incorporated. Important: always start and end with the dry ingredients.
- Flavoring: I use orange zest, quite a lot, because I believe it's the most natural and best way of achieving a good orange flavor. But you can use pure orange extract if fresh oranges are not available. It wouldn't be my first choice but I wouldn't not make this cake due to a lack of fresh fruit.
- Chocolate chips: if you want to have some crunch or more chocolate flavor, you can add mini semisweet chocolate chips (¼ cup or so) to the chocolate batter, together with the cocoa powder.
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For the cake:
- 1 ½ cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 cups sugar
- 5 large eggs, at room temperature
- 3 cups all-purpose or cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons orange zest (about 2 oranges)
- 3 tablespoon orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier) or orange juice
- ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
For the chocolate glaze:
- Scant 1 cup (200g) whipping or heavy cream
- 7 and ¾ oz (220g) semisweet chocolate, chopped
- ¼ cup (50g) dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon runny honey or corn syrup
For the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350º F /180ºC.
- Butter or spray a large 12-cup capacity bundt cake pan.
- Coat the entire surface with flour or dry breadcrumbs, shaking off excess. Refrigerate the pan while you make the batter.
- Beat softened butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer, or in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, slowly adding the sugars, beating for 2 or 3 minutes after all is added.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add orange zest, orange liqueur or orange juice, and vanilla.
- Sift flour, salt, and baking soda together in a small bowl or have them measured and sift directly over the butter mixture, as I do.
- Add the dry ingredients (also called the flour mixture) in three additions alternating with milk in two additions. Don't overbeat after adding flour, simply beat just until incorporated.
- Transfer 1 cup of this mixture to a small bowl and mix into it the sifted cocoa. Gently mix until you have a smooth batter.
- Add half the orange batter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly. Drop half of the cocoa mixture over it, and swirl a few times with the tip of a knife. Repeat with the remaining batters. You will have to layers of marbled cake mix.
- Bake for 1 hour or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. It might take several more minutes.
- Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for about 20 minutes.
- Remove from the bundt pan, it will still be quite still hot, so be careful. Place on the cooling rack and let cool completely before glazing.
- Pour the chocolate glaze (instructions below) on top of the cake and let it drip down the sides. You can scoop the drippings and pour the over again. Do this quickly before it sets. You can decorate with orange slices, orange peel, or rind.
For the ganache glaze:
- Finely chop the chocolate and put it in a bowl, preferably glass.
- In a small saucepan heat cream with sugar.
- Remove just when it's about to boil. It should have small bubbles in the outer rim.
- Immediately cover the chopped chocolate with the hot cream.
- Let stand 3 minutes to soften.
- With a wire whisk start mixing from the middle out. The chocolate will mix with the cream and create a smooth and shiny chocolate mixture.
- Add honey or corn syrup, mix well and it's ready to use.
Organization: always read the recipe first and make sure you have all the ingredients, at the right temperatures, and also the rest of the equipment and space to make it. This will make the process so much easier!
Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look the same or very similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer that is placed inside the oven (like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is at the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
Sift the cocoa powder: this is important because it usually has clumps that will not dissolve during baking.
Sift the baking soda: it can get clumpy when stored, so I urge you to always sift it before adding it to any baking preparation as it won't dissolve on its own in the oven.
Alternate dry and wet ingredients: this is an important step when making cakes because we always want to level temperatures and densities. By adding part of the flour mixture, then part of the milk, and the repeating it until we add it all, we make sure it's all well incorporated. Important: always start and end with the dry ingredients.
Cocoa powder: always use unsweetened like Hershey's unsweetened cocoa powder, Ghirardelli Premium baking cocoa, Scharffen Berger natural cocoa powder. And, in my experience, the dark ones are the best (this does not apply to the super dark used for making homemade oreo cookies known as dark cocoa powder).
Layer cake: you can change the cake form and bake it in two 9-inch round springform pans or three 8-inch ones. Fill and frost with ganache or another frosting you like.
- Prep Time: 20
- Cooling time: 60 minutes
- Cook Time: 60
- Category: Cakes
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: International
- Serving Size: 1/12
- Calories: 737
- Sugar: 70.3 g
- Sodium: 197.3 mg
- Fat: 34.5 g
- Carbohydrates: 100 g
- Protein: 8.2 g
- Cholesterol: 150.1 mg
Keywords: orange chocolate bundt cake