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Chocolate Cake with Orange Buttercream and Ganache


This is one of my go-to chocolate cake recipes because it always come out perfectly.  It is a dense, moist, delicious chocolate cake with a layer of flavored buttercream frosting and chocolate ganache over the top.  Does that sound complicated?  Well, it's really not - if you've never really attempted a good homemade cake, this is a great one to try. 

The originial recipe called for making an espresso buttercream layer, but I much prefer the taste of orange with chocolate. You can make whichever flavor you like. The ganache top layer is super easy - you just heat all the ingredients together and let it cool for a little while until it is thick enough to pour over the cake but yet still thin enough that it will run down the sides. 


The cake is baked in a rimmed baking sheet and then cut into thirds.  It's super easy to do - just make sure you line the cake pan with parchment paper and the cake will come out easily.  Baking one large cake and cutting it into thirds and layering it makes it the easiest layer cake ever!


Chocolate Cake with Orange Buttercream and Ganache



for a printable recipe, click here

adapted slightly from

Servings: Makes 16 servings


For the cake:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
6 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup very hot water 

For the buttercream:
4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter , softened
2 tablespoons orange juice 

For the ganache:
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter , softened and diced
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar


For the cake:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 15 1/2" x 10 1/2" jelly-roll pan with parchment paper; spray paper with nonstick cooking spray.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt at medium speed until blended. In another bowl, whisk eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Gradually beat egg mixture into flour mixture, about 5 minutes. Shift mixer to low speed; add hot water until blended. Pour batter into pan. Bake until toothpick comes out of the center clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool cake completely.

separate your eggs the easy way - like Jacques Pepin - by letting the whites
pour through your fingers.


For the orange buttercream:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat egg yolks at medium speed until they become lemon colored and ribbonlike when beaters are lifted, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine sugar and 1/4 cup water. Cook over medium-low heat, swirling pan occasionally, until sugar completely dissolves and syrup just comes to a boil. Increase heat to high; boil syrup until it registers 238°F on a candy thermometer. With the mixer on medium speed, immediately add syrup to beaten egg yolks in a thin, steady stream. Beat mixture until it cools to room temperature and is light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Gradually add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until completely incorporated. Add orange juice and stir.

cut a little slit in the corner of the parchment paper - this will
allow the parchment to fit nicely into the corner and your cake will come out perfectly


For the ganache:
In a large bowl, combine chocolate and butter. In a small saucepan, heat cream and sugar over medium-high flame, stirring occasionally, until small bubbles appear around edge of pan. Pour hot cream over chocolate; stir until chocolate and butter melt and mixture is completely smooth. Cool, stirring occasionally, until thickened but not pasty, about 15 minutes.

Invert cake onto a large wire rack; peel off parchment paper. Invert cake again onto a large cutting board. With a serrated knife, cut cake into equal thirds.

Set a large wire rack over a sheet of waxed paper. Arrange one cake layer on rack; spread half of buttercream evenly over top. Add another cake layer; spread top with remaining buttercream. Place remaining cake layer on top.

Pour ganache over top of cake, spreading with a spatula so it coats the sides. If ganache does not cover sides completely, pour any excess that has collected on the waxed paper back into bowl and spread again. Refrigerate cake until ganache sets, about 1 hour. Use two large spatulas to transfer cake onto a serving platter.

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Reader Comments (18)

I'm sorry you didn't include the recipe for espresso butter cream since I don't care for orange and chocolate together. Would you just leave out the orange juice and add espresso? Also, although pictured, there's no mention of what you sprinkled on top of the cake. Are those white chocolate curls? My go-to chocolate cake recipe calls for strong coffee instead of water in the batter. Lastly, a jelly-roll pan will produce thinner layers than a typical rectangular pan. I'd like thicker layers. Elaine I love your blog and your recipes but this one needs a little tweaking, IMHO.

July 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterArlene

From The Italian Dish:

Arlene: I did provide a link to the original recipe at the beginning of the recipe, if you are interested in the espresso version. The garnish on top in the photo is just white chocolate - it's not really a part of the recipe. As for the pan, if you look at the recipe it calls for a 15-1/2" x 10-1/2" pan, which will produce a fairly thick cake. Maybe you are thinking of a half size sheet pan, which is 18" x 13" and would make a much thinner cake. Hope this helps.

July 16, 2013 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

My error. I should have called up the Oprah recipe. Thanks very much for your reply.

July 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterArlene

Wow! I am making this! Thank you for sharing all your great recipes, this is my go-to website! Cheryl

July 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl

Mmmm this is my ideal cake right there!!!

Yum! I love orange and chocolate together - I will be making this very soon, thanks for the recipe!

July 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJen Rohn

I follow several food blogs, but YOUR blog is my absolute favorite! I have tried many of your recipes and they have always been a hit with family and friends. That isn't always true with recipes found on some of the more popular food blogs. So thank you Elaine for sharing your recipes and your knowledge of cooking. I plan to try this recipe for my in-laws this weekend!

July 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

Do you have any gluten free entrée or desert recipes?

July 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarianna

Hi there, I LoVe your Site girl..... Hey wanted to ask you, the original and your recipe both call for Hot Water, can I use a Cup of Hot coffee instead. Please help, I plan to make this here shortly. Thank you again and please keep posting all your goodies. God Bless.

July 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHippie Chic

From The Italian Dish:

Marianna: I'm sorry, but I don't specifically write gluten free recipes. There are many blogs, however, that do. Just do a google search and you will find plenty.

Hippie Chic: Just use the hot water like the recipe says. If you want to use hot coffee for some reason, go ahead but I don't know how it will taste.

July 17, 2013 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Yuuummm, looks delish!! Also, there is nothing more annoying than people dissecting a recipe to death....if you want a different recipe, google a different recipe...yeesh, it's rude....Thank you for sharing YOUR ideas :) Can't wait to try it!

July 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLiz

I really like your blog, the recipes and the photos are fantastic! :) I would like to try this cake but as I'm writing from Hungary and we usually mesaure ingredients in grams not sure what kind of cup should I use to measure the ingredients? Thanks for the help in advance, and can't wait the new posts! :)

July 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDora

From The Italian Dish:

Dora: That is a question that is easily answered with a google search. It looks like a cup is about 128 grams. There is a difference, though. In the U.S., we tend to measure by volumne and in Europe, you tend to measure by weight.

July 24, 2013 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Thank you Elaine, the link is really useful! I tryed to google search this some months ago and found a couple of type of cups, so got a little bit confused, so thought it would be useful to learn this from turstworthy source. Thanks again!

July 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDora

This looks brilliant - cannot wait to try it! Thanks for posting.

July 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterThe Twilight Chef

Thanks for nice information..
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August 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAashish Dhakaal

Hello! I made this recipe and posted it on my blog. It didn't work out exactly right, but that was my fault!
I thought you'd like to see how it came out. Thank you for posting it.

September 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLove and Duck Fat

This post is very good - cannot wait to try it! Thanks for posting

January 15, 2014 | Unregistered Commentersunita

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