Four layer Chocolate Orange Cake

It’s that time of year… it’s getting a little bit colder, darker and cosier. Autumn and Winter are probably my favourite seasons of the year. I really love any excuse to be festive and with Halloween and (dare I say it?) Christmas around the corner, its the perfect time to start experimenting with new flavours and different recipes. I trialled this chocolate orange cake recipe last weekend – a deliciously soft, chocolatey sponge sandwiched with layers of tangy orange buttercream icing.

Chocolate orange is one of my all time favourite flavours… I really should have a shareholding in Mondelēz with the amount of Terry’s Chocolate Orange that I consume between September and January!! I have made a couple of small edits to the recipe since I trialled it, as I felt it could have been a little more chocolatey (I do love my chocolate) and less orangey. I hope you give it a go, and let me know what you think!

Note: I used a 7 inch tin for my cake layers – this is pretty small so I was able to get four decent layers in my cake. If you’re using a larger 8 or 9 inch tin, you might only get three layers out of the recipe below. It’ll still be delicious, don’t worry 🙂


For the chocolate cake batter:

  • 350g plain flour
  • 360g caster sugar
  • 70g cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 3 lg free-range eggs
  • 235ml coffee
  • 235ml buttermilk
  • 215ml vegetable oil

For the tangy orange buttercream: 

  • 300g unsalted butter, soft
  • 800g icing sugar, sifted
  • 4-6 tbs freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Zest of 1 orange


  • 2 or 4 x round cake tins (I used 2x 7 inch and baked in two batches)
  • A tabletop mixer or handheld mixer
  • Three bowls
  • A spatula
  • A whisk


  1. Heat the oven to 180c/350f/gas mark 4.
  2. Grease and line your baking tins – this is important if you want an easy life later on!
  3. Add the dry ingredients to one bowl (thats the flour, cocoa powder, caster sugar, salt, bicarb of soda and orange zest) and stir until thoroughly mixed.
  4. In a second bowl, mix together the wet ingredients. The best way to do this is by adding the eggs,  the buttermilk, the coffee (make sure this is cold!) and then the vegetable oil. This will NOT look pretty, but just keep mixing until the oil is dispersed and not sitting in a layer on the top.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and whisk until all of the dry ingredients are evenly combined with the wet – stir it slowly to check that its all combined, scraping the bottom of the bowl. There should be no flour pockets or mini cocoa explosions!
  6. The finished batter is quite gloopy… so you might want to transfer it to a jug! Or, if you’re lazy like me, you’ll take your chances and use the bowl to pour the mixture into the lined baking tins. If you’re using two tins like I did, bake two cakes at a time and just wash your tins in between bakes.
  7. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 minutes. (If you’re using larger tins you may need to adjust this time by adding 5 or 10 minutes – just keep checking)

Use a skewer or a chopstick to check your cake is done by poking the centre of the cake. If the cake is done, there should be no mix or residue on the skewer when you take it out. Leave your lovely cakes to cool on a rack. Now to make that tangy orange buttercream…

  1. Using your electric mixer, beat the butter for 8-10 minutes until soft, pale and very fluffy!
  2. Add in the icing sugar in a number of additions, slowly beating it in until all of the loose sugar is combined, then speeding up to add air. Continue to beat for 5-6 minutes.
  3. At this point, add in the fresh orange juice, one tablespoon at a time. For extra orangey goodness, add the zest of one orange. Give the buttercream one final mix to incorporate and set aside.

Here’s the tricky bit.  It might be useful for you to have a turntable for this bit. You can buy a cake turntable at most good kitchen shops – we found ours in TKMaxx! Here’s a good one. If you don’t want to invest in a turntable, you can use a large cake plate, or a large, relatively flat dinner plate. Place a small blob of icing on the surface you are using to secure the first layer of cake and prevent slippage. Using a large palette knife (here’s the one I have) spread a generous layer of buttercream across the first layer of cake. Repeat this for the second, third and fourth layer, sandwiching each layer neatly on top of the layer before.

To cover the outside of the cake, take a small amount of the buttercream and thinly cover the cake top and sides. Use the palette knife to place the blob of buttercream on the top of the cake, and gently push this out to the edges. Use the excess from the top to thinly cover the sides. The palette knife is your best friend here – use it to make sure all gaps are covered!

When you have finished, refrigerate the cake for 30 mins – 1 hour. Please don’t skip this step – trust me you will be so annoyed if you do! This is called the ‘crumb coat’ and locks in all of the crumbs from the cake. This will prevent the crumbs from escaping into the icing and ruining the prettiness of your cake. 🙂

When the initial thin layer of icing has nicely hardened up, whip your cake out of the fridge and start slapping on the rest of your icing. Again, start from the top and move the icing to the edges of the cake, using the palette knife to pull the icing around the cake smoothly. Keep spreading until you’re happy that your cake is completely covered. Again, pop it into the fridge for 30 mins… and you’re done!

So you should have something that looks like this:

Tangy Four Layer Chocolate Orange Cake

Tangy Four Layer Chocolate Orange Cake

You can decorate with anything you like! If you have a Terry’s Chocolate Orange to hand, you could break it into segments and place the wedges around the edge of the cake… or if you’re like me and have eaten it before you could decorate, you could use some broken up chocolate Flake and sprinkle it over the top of the cake.

Hope you give it a try! 🙂 You can find me on Instagram here – make sure to tag me if you make it yourself!

Happy Baking!



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