Chocolate and orange is a classic combination that has been recreated and redefined time and time again. This recipe is one that I recently developed for the birthday of one of my partner’s work colleagues. I was told that chocolate needed to be an essential element in the cake. However, I wanted to create something that was a little bit indulgent and a tad special; an orange-flavoured ganache certainly seemed to fit the bill.
My ganache recipe is one that will thicken naturally as it cools but will also set nicely if you leave it in the fridge (not a new thing but perfect for the rather hot weather we appear to be enduring as I write this post.) I find that using a cheaper chocolate actually works better for its setting quality. I love Green and Blacks and would never turn down a bar of the stuff but, for this, I actually think Bournville would work or even, dare I say it, Aldi’s own brand!
I have tried a couple of orange extracts. Nielsen-Massey is always a good call however Tesco currently have a Valencia Orange extract which is pretty cheap and works well.
This cake would work equally well as a mint chocolate fudge cake—simply substitute the orange extract with a similar mint extract. I would suggest at least halving the measures though (say, 2 tsp as a starting point and add more if required) as mint tends to be a more potent flavouring than orange. You wouldn’t want a toothpaste-flavoured cake, now would you?!
Anyway, on with the recipe…
Chocolate Orange Fudge Cake
Serves: 8-12 (depending on appetite!) | Prep time: 1 hour | Cooking time: 45 minutes
For the cake:
- 260g butter
- 260g caster sugar
- 4 large eggs, free range
- 4 tbsp cocoa powder
- 4 tsp orange extract
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 260g plain flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
For the ganache:
- 300g double cream
- 300g plain chocolate
- 2 tsp orange extract
For the buttercream filling
- 80g butter
- 175g icing sugar
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp orange extract
- 1-2 tbsp milk (if required)
- First, the usual… Preheat the oven to 180°c. Now’s also a good time to grease and line two 6″ cake pans. I like to use PME deep, solid-bottomed cake pans.
- Next, in a stand mixer (if you have one, otherwise, a bowl and a hand mixer will be fine), cream together your butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
- Ensuring you mix well between each addition, now add your eggs one at a time.
- Beat the mix for 2-3 minutes until light and airy. Don’t worry if it splits, chocolate cakes are often a little denser than normal sponge… Your friends will never know!
- Next, add the cocoa as well as the vanilla and orange extracts; mix until there are no pale streaks left in the batter.
- Finally, mix in your flour and baking powder, folding until the batter is just combined and beautifully brown.
- Divide the mixture between the two greased and lined pans, and bake on the middle shelf for 35-40 minutes. It is sometimes hard to tell when chocolate cake is cooked and you will of course want to avoid burning the edges so test the cakes with a skewer after 30-35 minutes. If a skewer, poked into the centre of the cake, comes out clean then the cakes are baked.
- Let the cakes fully cool then level and half each cake to leave four equally portioned layers.
- In a large bowl, break up your chocolate into small pieces (you don’t need to be too meticulous with it; breaking the bars into small blocks will suffice.)
- Next, pour your cream into a heavy-bottomed pan and bring to the boil. Be sure to stir the cream continuously to avoid the bottom catching.
- Once your cream starts to boil, pour it over your chocolate pieces and stir with a wooden spoon.
- Keep stirring, trying not to incorporate too much air, until the cream has fully melted the chocolate. What remains can only be described as sheer chocolate heaven!
- Pour the ganache into a heat-proof jug and set aside to cool a little.
- In a bowl, beat the butter until pale and fluffy.
- Next, mix in your cocoa and orange extract.
- Finally, sift in your icing sugar and slowly cream the icing, beating the mixture for 3-5 minutes (being careful to avoid creating a plume of sugar, and a messy kitchen!)
- If your buttercream is a bit stiff, add a tablespoon of milk to slacken it off. If it’s still too stiff, add a splash more.
- Transfer the finished icing to a piping bag with a round tip.
- On a 6″ cake board, spoon a small amount of buttercream onto the centre of the cake board to act as glue, holding the bottom layer in place.
- Once the first layer in on your board, pipe on a 2-3mm thick layer of buttercream onto it before placing the second layer on top. Repeat for the remaining layers, leaving the top of the cake naked (you should have four layers of cake and three layers of buttercream, excluding the ‘glue’ on the cake board.) Try to get your cake as level as possible.
- Chill the cake for between 30 minutes and an hour. Remove the chilled cake from the fridge and smooth down any buttercream that may have escaped from between the layers.
- Now it’s time to pour the ganache over your already sublime creation. If your ganache is no longer of a pourable consistency, heat it in the microwave for 10-15 second, or in a bain-marie until loose enough to pour but not so loose that it won’t stay put a little!
- I like to pour around the edge of the cake first to ensure enough ganache runs down all of the sides and then I pour over the centre last. It’s probably best to do this on a cooling rack with a tray underneath it to catch any run off.
- And, that’s it! You can either place the cake back in the fridge to set the ganache or leave it to soft set naturally. Best served with pouring cream, in my experience.
N.B. Don’t throw away any leftover ganache. Place it in the fridge for 30 minutes then use a teaspoon to spoon out small amounts. Roll them in cocoa powder and you have yourself some luxurious truffles!