This Orange Layer Cake has spongey, fluffy cake layers with a creamy orange frosting and a beautiful chocolate drizzle. Candied oranges top the cake to make an irresistible, stunning cake perfect for any occasion.
Oh my gawd, this cake. I don’t even know where to start. It is absolutely divine! With spongey, soft cake layers that are beautifully light, slathered with a creamy, almost tangy frosting and topped with a gorgeous chocolate ganache drizzle. Not too much frosting, just the right ratio of cake to frosting.
This orange layer cake is the perfect cake for every occasion. I made it just for fun, and we ate it all in two days. Seriously. No sickly sweet frosting here. Just your favorite chocolate/orange combination. And before you ask, yes, the candied oranges are worth the extra effort. Let’s get making it!
Gather your ingredients
- all purpose flour
- oranges- zest and juice
- granulated sugar
- whole milk
- baking powder
- unsalted butter
- vanilla extract
- full fat cream cheese
- heavy cream
- semi-sweet chocolate
Start with making the candied oranges
First, start with making the candied oranges. Thinly slice two oranges and place them in a wide pot with a little water and sugar, making sure they don’t overlap. Cook them for 30-40 minutes so the oranges are nice and tender. Also, the water mixture cooks down to be a lovely flavored syrup that coats and sweetens the oranges.
Place the cooked orange slices on a wire rack or a parchment lined baking sheet so they can dry. Save that leftover syrup! You’ll be using it in both the frosting and chocolate ganache drizzle.
Make the cake
Now, make the cake! Preheat the oven and prepare three cake pans by greasing really well and coating with flour. This help this very tender cake not stick.
Then, beat the eggs just a touch until they are lemon colored. Then, mix in the sugar and beat the eggs until they are a beautiful pale yellow and thick. This process whips air into the eggs which in return, creates a fluffy cake.
Whisk together the dry ingredients plus the orange zest and mix into the eggs. In a small saucepan, melt the butter in milk and freshly squeezed orange juice. Slowly pour into the batter while the mixer is running. Pour into the prepared cake pans and bake the cakes to perfection, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely before finishing.
Now for the frosting
Next up- frosting! Beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth and creamy. Then, mix in a little left over syrup from the candied oranges and sugar. Beat the mixture again until the frosting has increased in size and is wonderfully creamy and smooth.
Now, let’s frost! Place a cake round on a serving platter or a cardboard cake round. Smear a little bit of frosting over the top of the cake. Place another cake layer on top and smear again. Do once more, but this time, frost the sides of the cake as well. Use a bench scraper or spatula to scrape the sides of the cake to give you the naked cake look. Place the cake in the freezer or refrigerator to allow the cake to stabilize before ganaching.
But wait- the chocolate drizzle!
The last, and probably the most important step for the orange layer cake is to make the chocolate drizzle. It’s what makes the cake just beautiful and gives it the wonderful orange/chocolate combo.
Place chopped chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to barely a simmer in a small saucepan. Pour over the chocolate and let it rest for a minute or two. Whisk until the chocolate has melted and is smooth. Whisk in a little leftover candied orange syrup to give the chocolate a little orange flavor and not allow the chocolate to become rock hard.
Pour that beautiful melted chocolate over the top of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. If you waited a little too long and the chocolate is beginning to thicken, take a spatula and spread the chocolate over the top.
Top with candied orange slices and wow your family/guests/yourself.
Not as complicated as it may seem, well worth the effort and simply amazing.
Notes & Tidbits
Did you wait too long to drizzle the chocolate over the cake? No worries, scrape the chocolate into a small saucepan and place over low heat. Constantly whisk until the chocolate begins to soften and melt again. Immediately remove from the heat and drizzle over the cake.
If you absolutely don’t want to take the time to make candied oranges, that’s okay. Use corn syrup in place of the candied orange syrup in the frosting and chocolate ganache. You will not, however, get the orange flavor. So, if you would prefer, throw in a little orange zest into both to give you that orange flavor.
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For the candied oranges
- 2 medium oranges, ends removed and thinly sliced
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups water
For the cake
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- zest from 3 oranges
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the frosting
- 9 ounces full fat cream cheese, softened
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2 Tablespoons syrup leftover from candied oranges*
- 1 cup granulated sugar
For the chocolate ganache drizzle
- 2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 Tablespoons syrup leftover from candied oranges*
- To make the candied oranges, bring the orange slices, sugar and water to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat, making sure the orange slices aren't overlapping. Reduce to a simmer and cook, flipping occasionally for 20-30 minutes, or until the oranges are tender and nearly translucent. Reduce the heat to low and cook for another 10 minutes until the oranges are soft. Remove from the pot and place on a wire rack or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Save the leftover syrup by setting aside.
- To make the cake preheat the oven to 350ºF and grease and flour three 8-inch baking pans. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs until lemon colored, about 1-2 minutes. Mix in the sugar and beat until the the mixture is thick and a pale yellow, about 3-4 minutes on medium-high speed.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and orange zest. Pour the mixture into the eggs and mix just until combined.
- In a small saucepan, stir together the milk, orange juice and butter over medium-low heat until the butter has melted. With the mixer on low speed, slowly drizzle in the milk mixture, then the vanilla extract. Mix until combined.
- Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans and place in the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before removing from the cooling on a wire rack completely.
- Once the cake rounds have cooled, make the frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth and creamy on medium-high speed, about 2 minutes. Mix in the syrup and sugar. Beat on high speed for another 2-3 minutes, or until the frosting is fluffy and increased in size.
- When ready to assemble the cake, place one round on a serving platter or cardboard cake round. Slather frosting over the top of the cake, spreading to the edges. Place another cake round on top of the first and repeat the process twice more. Spread a thin layer of frosting around the outsides and top of the cake, scraping away any excess. Place in the cake in the refrigerator or freezer for 30 minutes to help stabilize the cake.
- When the cake is done chilling, prepare the ganache drizzle. Place the chopped chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a barely simmer in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Pour the heavy cream over the chocolate and sit for 2 minutes. Whisk the chocolate until smooth and completely melted. Whisk in the syrup. Do not let this mixture sit more than 10 minutes, or will begin to thicken and harden. Pour the mixture over the top of the cake, allowing it to drip down over the sides. If necessary, use a thin metal spatula to spread the chocolate over the top. Decorate the top with candied oranges and serve.
This cake will keep in the refrigerator up to 5 days.
*Replace the leftover syrup with 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice if you did not make the candied oranges.
*Use 2 Tablespoons corn syrup and 1 Tablespoon orange zest in place of the candied orange syrup in the ganache.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 862
Nutritional information is only an estimate.