Orange chocolate cake

Photographer: Emma

This recipe is one which is close to my heart. It forms part of one of my earliest and fondest memories. I was 5 and my two younger brothers, Tim and Nick, were packed into the backseat of the family car heading south on holiday with Mum. Having just started school, I was unable to join them, and my disappointment showed as Dad and I stood on the grass berm outside our little villa waving goodbye. Sensing this, Dad bundled me up in his arms and took me into the kitchen where he sat me up on the bench. We measured and mixed, sifted and stirred and here my love of food and cooking was born, as well as my first chocolate cake.

This recipe has evolved over the years into a darker, richer cake than the one Dad and I made over 20 years ago! What I like most about it is that although it contains very little fat or sugar, it is always a crowd pleaser, being consistently moist, light and deliciously tasty. It is also a very versatile cake. Whilst in this instance it is flavoured with orange zest, you can substitute this for rose water, grated ginger or frozen berries. Mum does a great Black Forest version where she cuts the cake in half, spreads one side with jam and cream, and finishes it off with chocolate butter icing. However if you are short on time, the original chocolate cake recipe (the recipe below minus the orange zest) simply dusted with icing sugar is always delicious too.


50g butter
2 tbsp golden syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 cup cocoa
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
1 tsp baking soda
grated zest of one orange

200g dark chocolate
½ cup cream


1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C.
2. Melt the butter and golden syrup together, either on top of the stove or in the microwave. Add the sugar and the vanilla extract to this melted mixture and whisk together for a minute. Add the egg and whisk again.
3. Dissolve the baking soda in the milk and then add to the golden syrup mixture, stirring to combine.
4. Sift the cocoa, flour and baking powder together over the golden syrup mixture, and add the orange zest. Stir together until just combined, making sure to get rid of any lumps (without overmixing).
5. Pour into a greased 20cm ring tin and bake for 25 – 30 mins or until a skewer comes out clean.

1. Put the cream and chocolate in a saucepan and melt over a medium heat until the mixture is smooth.
2. Let the mixture cool slightly.
3. To ice, place the cake on a rack and pour icing over evenly.
4. Decorate with crystallised orange peel.