Chocolate Cake with Spiced Orange Buttercream

Chocolate Cake with Spiced Orange Buttercream

Chocolate Cake

This is our all-time favorite chocolate cake recipe!
Yield: 12-18 cupcakes or 1 9” cake


  • 2  cups + 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup hot water


  1. Preheat oven to 325° F.
  2. Spray a 9-inch cake pan with cooking spray and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder. Set aside.
  4. In another large bowl whisk together sugar, oil, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla until combined.
  5. With a mixer or by hand, slowly add the dry mixture to the liquid mixture and whip until combined. If dough is very lumpy, strain through a fine mesh strainer.
  6. Slowly pour the hot water into the cake batter while mixing gently.
  7. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber scraper to ensure even mixing.
  8. Batter may be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.

To Bake:

  1. Scoop batter into the sprayed and lined pan, filling ¾ of the way full.
  2. Place the cake pan on a sheet pan and bake in the center of your oven.
  3. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the cake has domed and is no longer wet in the center.
  4. Remove from oven and cool until you can safely remove cake from pan.
  5. Cool cake completely before icing.

Spiced Orange Buttercream

This sweet, whipped buttercream is a classic accompaniment to dense, buttery cake.

Yield: icing for 24 cupcakes or 1 9” cake


  • 4 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 8-12 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 Tbsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • zest of 2 oranges


  1. In a bowl cream butter and vanilla bean paste until fluffy.
  2. Add 2 cups powdered sugar to the bowl and mix until combined.
  3. Add milk, spices and zest to the bowl and mix until combined.
  4. Add additional powdered sugar and mix until desired consistency is reached.
  5. Store in a covered airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Confit (Marmalade) Oranges

This process candies the orange slices and makes the entire orange edible, even the pith & peel. You can use this technique on all kinds of citrus. Blanching the fruit first can help remove any bitterness.

  • 2 navel oranges, sliced thin
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 4 cups water


  1. Slice oranges as thin as possible while keeping the whole slice intact.
  2. Bring sugar and water to a boil in a large shallow pot.
  3. Place orange slices in the syrup.
  4. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the inside of the pot and cut a slit in the center of the parchment “lid” to allow steam to escape. Place parchment directly on the surface of the oranges. (Parchment lid will help keep oranges submerged and allow steam to vent.)
  5. Cook until orange peels are translucent and tender to eat. Remove from heat and allow to cool in liquid. If syrup reduces too much during cooking, you can always add water to thin out the consistency.
Chocolate Cake with Spiced Orange Buttercream Recipe Video at Ginger and Baker
Chocolate Cake with Spiced Orange buttercream

Cake assembly:

First, use a long, serrated knife to level off the top domed part of your cake. (The mound that comes off is best for snacking!)

Next, slice the cake into layers – this is called “torting.” Again, a long, serrated knife works best!

You can choose how many layers your cake will have. Traditionally, we cut a 9-inch cake into three layers with two frosting layers.

Visually, start with the top layer and score the side of the cake using your knife.

Once scored, start slicing your cake. Working from the outside in, drag your knife towards you as your slowly turn your cake away from you with your hand. Eventually you will work towards the center of the cake to evenly cut your layers. Repeat for the next layer.

Next, brush cake layer with simple syrup to lock in moisture. Note: if you wish, you can flavor the simple syrup with vanilla, rum, orange liqueur or whatever you wish.  (Simple syrup = 1 cup sugar + 1 cup water, bring to a boil to dissolve sugar, add flavoring, if desired.)

Next, pipe a ring of buttercream around the edge of the layer to act as a barrier for the filling. Then, fill in the center and smooth it out. Top with several of the orange confit slices.

Repeat these steps with your next cake layer.

Once the cake is filled and stacked, it’s time for the crumb coat. This is an important step. By coating the cake with a thin layer of frosting you’ll lock in any crumbs and keep them from from showing on the outer icing layers of your cake.

Scoop a large dollop of buttercream on top. Using an offset spatula and working your hand in a back and forth motion, this will spread your icing layer. Be careful not to pick up your spatula or you will risk taking a piece of the cake with you.

Coat the sides of your cake. To get a nice smooth finish, you can use a bench scraper to create your straight sides. After crumb coating you should chill the cake so that the final coat of icing goes on more easily. A firm cake is easier to work with – it has more stability.

After the cake has set up in the fridge for 30 -60 minutes, it’s time for the final coat of frosting.

Scoop a large dollop of buttercream on top of your cake and, working again in that same back and forth motion, spread the buttercream evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

The formation of your cake should be level with straight sides at 90 degree angles.

To smooth your sides you can use an offset spatula, a bench scraper or a bowl scraper – it all depends on what tools you’re comfortable working with.

A pro tip – run your spatula in hot water and wipe dry with a towel to create a smooth and shiny finish to your cake. The heat and water smooth out the icing into a seamless swipe so that you can’t tell where your icing begins or ends.

Decorate with additional confit oranges, candied nuts, buttercream accents, sprinkles or whatever you wish. Dust with cinnamon to finish, then slice, serve and eat!

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