Chocolate & Blood Orange Cake

Am I still squeezing every last ounce of recipes out of blood oranges? Yes. Was that the world’s worst pun? Quite possibly (not even sorry). Much like all of my seasonal favourites though, so long as we have them, I’m going to enjoy them. I’ve set my seasonal standards & fully intend on sticking to them.

Chocolate & Blood Orange Cake

I’ve tried all of the usual recipes with blood oranges in the past, marmalades, upside down cakes & the like, along with some more rather unconventional ideas but the one thing that never actually occurred to me to make with them is a classic flavour pairing that has unknowingly been staring me in the face for years, chocolate orange!

Chocolate & Blood Orange Cake

A favourite flavour for many people, what better pairing is there than chocolate & orange? I suppose when I see the beautiful flesh of a blood orange, my mind immediately races towards a recipe or idea that will use that colour to full effect, taking centre stage. This can be a challenge when creating a layer cake, particularly when you prefer a natural bake avoiding food colouring where possible, but one that I’m willing to take on to create a chocolate & blood orange cake.

Chocolate & Blood Orange Cake

Inevitably, most cakes lose a little of any kind of colour when baked, be it natural or false, so I knew that simply adding the juice of my oranges just wouldn’t cut it. In true Marmalade Teapot style, I figured why not just chuck the whole orange in there (I’ll literally try anything in a cake), this way I’m not only adding flavour & moisture to my cake but hopefully a little blood red hue too. Admittedly, I lost a little of that colour in the bake but I’m very pleased with the results, it adds a lovely hued contrast to the deep chocolate buttercream.

Chocolate & Blood Orange Cake

To mimic the same colours on the outside of the cake, I did add a little splash of food colouring to some of my buttercream, just to add a bit of contrast (as much as I love brown foods, there can be such a thing as too plain sometimes). Inside the cake, there’s a hidden oozing layer or bitter marmalade to cut through the rich chocolate buttercream. Reserving the zested oranges from the sponge, I simply sliced & candied these as a quick & easy decoration to finish. Something a little different to your average chocolate orange cake, this is chocolate & blood orange is a delicious seasonal showstopper.

Chocolate & Blood Orange Cake

(makes an 18cm layer cake)


For the cake:

  • 1 whole blood orange
  • Zest of 3 blood oranges
  • Juice of 1 blood orange
  • 225g butter
  • 275g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 275 self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder

For the filling :

  • 220gg marmalade

For the frosting :

  • 500g butter
  • 700g icing sugar
  • 4-5 tbsp milk
  • 120g cocoa powder (for a deeper colour use dutch process)
  • Few drops red or orange food colouring

Optional – For the decoration:

  • 1 blood orange, sliced thinly
  • 100ml water
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 20g dark chocolate


To make the cake:

  • Start off by placing the whole orange into a small saucepan, cover with water & bring to the boil
  • Simmer the orange for 20-25 minutes until softened & a knife pierces the orange easily
  • Remove from the water & set aside to cool
  • Once cooled, use a food processor or a hand blender to blitz the orange into a smooth purée
  • Add the orange purée along with all of the other ingredients to a large bowl & beat together until smooth
  • Divide the mixture evenly between 3 greased & lined 18cm sandwich tins
  • Bake in the oven at 180C for 20 – 25 minutes, until the cakes are springing back to the touch when pressed lightly with a finger in the centre
  • Leave the cakes to cool in their tins for 10 mins before removing & placing on a wire cooling rack until cooled

To make buttercream:

  • In a large bowl, beat the butter to soften it a little
  • Add half of the icing sugar to the bowl & beat until combined
  • Add the rest of the icing sugar to the bowl & beat again until smooth
  • Remove 3 – 4 spoonfuls of the buttercream & place into a separate small bowl
  • Add a few drops or either red or orange food colouring to the small bowl of buttercream & beat through to reach the desired colour
  • Add the cocoa powder & 2tbsp of the milk to the rest of the buttercream & beat through until smooth, adding in the rest of the milk to loosen if needed

To assemble the cake:

  • When the cakes are completely cool, use a little of the chocolate buttercream to secure the first layer of cake to the base or plate
  • Pipe a circle of the chocolate buttercream all around the edge of the cake then use half of the marmalade to fill
  • Place the second layer or cake on top of the first & repeat the same process of piping & filling
  • Place the final cake layer on top & use a spatula to spread the chocolate buttercream to lightly cover (crumb coat) the top & sides of the cake, creating a nice smooth surface, set this aside to set
  • Use the remaining chocolate buttercream to add a thicker covering to the cake, adding in spots, stripes or dollops of the coloured buttercream, using a spatula to blend them in & smooth to finish

For the decoration:

  • To make the candied orange slices, begin by slicing the orange quite thinly
  • Put the slices into a medium sized saucepan along with the sugar & water
  • Gently heat everything until the sugar has completely dissolved
  • Once dissolved, bring the mixture up to the boil & continue to boil for 5 – 10 minutes until the sugar & water have become thick & syrupy
  • Carefully remove the orange slices, allowing any excess liquid to fall away & place on a piece of baking parchment to cool
  • Optional: bring the remaining liquid in the pan back to the boil until it reaches a hard crack temperature of 146 to 154°C (you can test this by dropping a little bit of the sugar into a bowl or cup of cold water & feeling it with your fingers to see how it sets), set aside to cool a little & pour a continuous flow over a parchment wrapped spoon handle, twisting as you go to create a spiral, set aside to cool & harden before removing
  • Gently melt the dark chocolate either in short busts in the microwave or in a small bowl set over a pan of simmering water
  • Pour the chocolate into a small piping bag & pipe over the cake or use a spoon to drizzle over the cake
  • Arrange the orange slices & sugar twists on top of the chocolate & leave to set

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