recipe image

My Chocolate-Orange Birthday Cake

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

  • Test Kitchen-Approved


  • 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!

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