Orange Chocolate Loaf Cake Recipe

Chocolate lovers rejoice! A melt-in-your-mouth orange chocolate loaf cake filled with creamy, dreamy chocolate and just a hint of orange awaits you. Look no further than this recipe that takes a mere 20 minutes to prepare and 60 minutes to bake. It serves ten, so there's plenty to share or hide from the kids and keep all to yourself in order to satisfy your chocolate craving.

Recipe developer Mark Beahm of the Sunday Baker created this recipe knowing that chocolate and orange are a classic flavor combination.

"I wanted to try it out with a chocolate loaf cake or a chocolate pound cake. I like loaf cakes and pound cakes because they're delicious and very versatile. You can have them for dessert or a snack with some coffee or even for breakfast. And who doesn't secretly love cake for breakfast?" he asked.

In fact, this scrumptious recipe is one Beahm's family enjoys for Christmas brunch, he noted, and it would be perfect for any gathering or special occasion.

Important prep work for your orange chocolate loaf cake

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a loaf pan with butter and dust with flour, a critical step to take before you ever get to baking your orange chocolate loaf cake.

"It's very important to grease the pan before pouring in the batter. If you don't, you'll most likely tear the cake trying to get it out of the pan.

"I like to use butter and flour to grease the pan because I always have those ingredients, and they don't add any flavors that are out of place. You can use parchment paper, but it's single-use, and butter and flour work just as well usually," Beahm said. "They do make non-stick baking sprays, and you could use that instead, but sometimes they add a strange flavor."

Use the right cocoa powder for your orange chocolate loaf cake

In a mixing bowl, sift or whisk together one and 1/4 cups flour, 2/3 of a cup sifted Dutch processed cocoa powder, 3/4 of a teaspoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. It's important to use Dutch processed cocoa powder to attain that rich chocolate-ly taste. Beahm explained that there are two main types of cocoa powder: natural and Dutch processed. 

"Natural cocoa powder is simply made from roasted cocoa beans. It's usually tan to dark yellowish brown in color and is naturally acidic. Dutch processed cocoa powder has been treated to neutralize the acidity. This also darkens the color, so it looks richer and has a reddish tint. The flavor is usually smoother and more mellow," he said. "The acidity makes an important difference in baking. Chemical leavening (baking soda and baking powder) work by mixing an acid and a base, producing carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide is trapped in doughs and batters and allows your baked goods to rise."

Baking soda is a base. In order to provide leavening, it needs to be mixed with an acidic ingredient, Beahm explained. Baking powder is a mixture of baking soda and cream of tartar (an acid). When you use baking powder, it's first activated when it gets wet while mixing and again with heat when it's in the oven.

"So, the type of cocoa you use has to balance with the chemical leavening you use," he explained.

Whip out the mixer for your orange chocolate loaf cake

Combine 3/4 of a cup room temperature butter, 3/4 of a cup granulated sugar, and 1/2 a cup brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed until pale and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Beahm prefers unsalted butter because different brands of salted butter use varying amounts of salt that can throw off the recipe.

It's also wise not to use margarine for your orange chocolate loaf cake.

"If you use unsalted butter, you stay in control of the balance. Some people like to bake with margarine or shortening instead of butter. I feel like you never know what you're going to get if you use margarine. There are so many types of margarine with different fat and water ratios. But generally, margarine will have more water than butter, which will affect the consistency of the batter. Shortening has a higher melting temperature and can improve the texture of baked goods. But I think nothing compares to the flavor of real butter," he said.

The surprise ingredient in this orange chocolate loaf cake

Add three large eggs to the wet mixture for your orange chocolate loaf cake, one at a time, beating well after each egg is added. Beahm explained it's important to add them slowly to the mixture.

"Eggs are used in baking because the protein adds structure. But eggs are also about 75 percent water, and fat and water don't like to mix. If you add the eggs one at a time, you allow the mixture to emulsify. This has to be done slowly or the emulsion will break and the batter will separate," he said. "Luckily, you can fix broken cake batter by adding a bit of flour, a tablespoon at a time, until it smooths out again.

Next, add half of the dry ingredients and mix on low until just blended. Then, add in 2/3 of a cup of sour cream, an ingredient you might not have expected, with the zest from two oranges and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, mixing until just combined.

"Sour cream makes cakes richer and moister without thinning out the cake batter like milk would. If you don't have sour cream, you could use yogurt or milk, but I think sour cream is the best for the texture," he explained.

Orange zest for your orange chocolate loaf cake

Zesting citrus fruit, whether it's a lemon or orange, takes some mastery. Beahm noted that to zest an orange for use in this orange chocolate loaf cake recipe, you should use a fine grater or a microplane. Wash the oranges before zesting them because many citrus fruits are sprayed with wax to keep them fresh, and you definitely don't want that in your list of cake ingredients.

Grate the whole surface of the orange, but don't grate too deep. The pith is bitter and has an unpleasant taste that won't mix well with the flavors of the cake.

Get ready to bake your orange chocolate loaf cake

Fold in the remaining dry ingredients for your orange chocolate loaf cake, mixing until just blended. Transfer the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Be sure to allow the cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Then, use a butter knife or an offset spatula to loosen the edges before turning the loaf out onto a wire rack to cool completely. While the cake cools, make the orange glaze.

Amazing orange glaze for your orange chocolate loaf cake

As if the orange chocolate loaf cake wasn't delicious enough, drizzling the orange glaze atop this masterpiece is sheer yumminess. Sift two cups of sifted confectioners' sugar into a mixing bowl. Add 2 and a half tablespoons of orange juice and zest from the remaining orange, and whisk until smooth.

"If the orange glaze is too thick, you can add more orange juice. Just add very little at a time, about a teaspoon, until you get the consistency you like. If it's too runny, you can try adding more sifted confectioners' sugar. But it's much easier to thin out the glaze than to thicken it, so add the liquid slowly," Beahm advised.

Orange Chocolate Loaf Cake Recipe
5 from 25 ratings
Chocolate lovers rejoice! A melt-in-your-mouth orange chocolate loaf cake filled with creamy, dreamy chocolate and just a hint of orange awaits you.
Prep Time
20
minutes
Cook Time
1
hour
Servings
10
servings
Orange chocolate loaf cake
Total time: 1.33 hours
Ingredients
  • 1-¼ cups flour
  • ⅔ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • ⅔ cup sour cream
  • zest from 3 oranges, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 2-½ tablespoons orange juice
Directions
  1. 1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a loaf pan with butter and dust with flour.
  2. 2. In a mixing bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
  3. 3. Combine the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  4. 4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. 5. Add half of the dry ingredients and mix on low until just incorporated.
  6. 6. Combine the sour cream, zest from two oranges, and vanilla extract, and add all at once, mixing just until combined.
  7. 7. Fold in the remaining dry ingredients, mixing until just incorporated.
  8. 8. Transfer the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  9. 9. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Then, use a butter knife or an offset spatula to loosen the edges before turning the loaf out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. 10. While the cake cools, make the orange glaze. Sift the confectioner's sugar into a mixing bowl. Add the orange juice and zest from one orange, and whisk until smooth.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 428
Total Fat 19.2 g
Saturated Fat 11.5 g
Trans Fat 0.6 g
Cholesterol 100.4 mg
Total Carbohydrates 63.0 g
Dietary Fiber 3.1 g
Total Sugars 46.3 g
Sodium 177.9 mg
Protein 5.4 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Rate this recipe