Chocolate Orange Cake

This has been in the family for years and years. I think our mother found it in one of those booklets that come with a food mixer. I added the idea of putting a sticky syrup on the top. Like our Crunchy Lemon Squares, I think it’s best make in a big tin and cut into individual squares which can then be frozen and eaten when the fancy takes you. If you put it in your lunchbox when it’s still frozen it’ll be just lovely by the time it gets to coffee break.

About the ingredients

Use 70% chocolate, which doesn’t have to be at all expensive. All I need to say is Lidl and Aldi. Don’t even think about using some rubbish 40% chocolate or milk chocolate because it will be just plain cheap and nasty and far too sweet. The walnuts are entirely optional. They give a little more density and, well, nuttiness to the cake but you can easily leave them out.

Makes 16 little square cakes

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 250g butter (out of the fridge for an hour or so)
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 125g chopped dark chocolate
  • 50g chopped walnuts (optional)
  • Grated zest of 2 orange
  • Juice of 1 orange

Ingredients for the syrup topping

  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • Juice of 2 oranges
  • 25g sugar (granulated or caster)


  • Orange zester
  • Orange squeezer
  • Tin measuring approximately 24cm square
  • Baking parchment/greaseproof paper for lining

Preheat the oven to 180º.


Line the tin with baking parchment/greaseproof paper. The best way to do this is to cut the paper out about 4cm bigger than the tin, then fold all four sides over so that you have a folded square in the middle that’s the same size as the base of the tin.   At each corner cut along one of the folded lines just the 4cm bit until you reach the corner of the base shape. This gives you a flap at each corner which you then tuck behind one of the sides when you put the paper in the tin.
Lining the tin

Be sure that when you grate the zest from the orange you don’t include any of the white pith which is bitter.   Also – zest the orange before you squeeze the juice.
Zest and nuts


Chop the chocolate with a big sharp knife on a chopping-board (not the one you use for onions and bacon) – you want it nice and small but not turning into a powder.

Chopped chocolate

 Beat the butter with the sugar until it’s pale and creamy. If you have an electric mixer then you’ll be glad of it now. If not, beat the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon. 

 Butter and sugar creamedAdd the eggs and beat a bit more, then the orange juice and zest as well as the chocolate and nuts. Beat like crazy for a bit and then add the flour and beat a bit less crazily until it’s nice and smooth.

Mixture in the tinTip it into the prepared tin, smooth it out a bit (but no need to use a spirit level) and put it in the oven for about 30-40 minutes.
About ten minutes before the cake is ready, make the syrup. Put the zest, juice and sugar in a small saucepan, bring to the boil, giving it the occasional stir to be sure the sugar is melted and not sticking to the bottom of the pan. Then boil with fury for about 10 minutes. You’re actually making a tiny little bit of marmalade. When it starts to go a little bit darker and a bit sticky (you can test it by putting a couple of drops on a cold saucer and see if it starts to set a bit) then it’s ready to spoon over the cake.
Remove the cake from the oven. You know it’s done because a) it’ll look and smell done b) the edges will be starting to shrink away from the paper c) if you stick a sharp knife into the middle it comes out clean. Spoon over the syrup and spread it around a bit. There isn’t a huge amount – just enough to give the cake a bit of a glossy top. Leave to cool properly before cutting into squares.


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