Chocolate Orange Cake (Vegan & Gluten-Free)
Decadent and rich, this gluten-free chocolate orange cake is easy to make and will leave your house smelling amazing!
If you love orange and chocolate flavours together and are looking for a gluten-free cake, this cake is for you. It uses a whole orange and no fancy ingredients.
Next time you need a cake that feels satisfying to share with others that have dietary requirements, this cake will certainly be a crowd-pleaser. It’s dense, yet fluffy, with the perfect amount of crumb. It’s a wonderful cake to serve during the holiday season.
The inspiration behind this vegan choc orange cake
It’s winter here in Australia and since moving to Tasmania in 2020, I’ve struggled to get organic or chemical-free citrus, in particular oranges.
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To my surprise, last week when I walked into my local store they had the full range. Oranges, grapefruits, mandarins, lemons, limes.
I was like a kid in a candy store and got very excited, so naturally bought an abundance of everything.
I came home and started thinking about how I can use all this delicious citrus. I wanted to utilise oranges and my first thought was my Persian Love Cake recipe and how it uses a whole orange, skin and all.
So from there, I wanted to experiment with making it gluten-free, even taking it a step further and not using a gluten-free flour blend. I came across this orange cake recipe and started the journey of experimentation.
I love orange cake, but I wanted to marry another flavour with it and knew that chocolate was the perfect combination. If you’re an Aussie, you’ll be reminded of those jaffa biscuits that you can buy (they certainly aren’t vegan or gluten-free).
What are the gluten-free ingredients that make up this cake?
The reason I went with the mix of almond flour and maize meal is that I wanted a slightly heartier texture with approachable ingredients that will result in a really nice cake every time.
With gluten-free flour blends or other speciality ingredients, the accessibility and the blends will vary from brand to brand, making the results very hit and miss.
I haven’t made a cake with maize meal before so this was a fun little experiment. You want to use maize meal, the texture is in between normal polenta and corn flour. It’s also not corn starch which is a fine white powder that makes a squeaking noise when rubbed between your fingers.
The terminology can get a little confusing, so if all else fails, go by look rather than the name.
Almond flour adds both fat and moisture to the cake and a beautiful subtle flavour. It can be dense but fluffy if used in the right way. I love baking with almond flour. Here are a few other recipes you might like using it:
- Easy Vegan Paleo Pancakes (Grain-Free)
- Vegan Chocolate Brownies (Candida Diet Friendly)
- Easy Vegan Apple Almond Cake
- Vegan Pear and Almond Crumble (Gluten-Free)
- Vegan Apple Crumble (Gluten-Free)
- No-Bake Ginger Slice (GF and Vegan)
Tips for making this vegan chocolate orange cake
- Use a thin-skinned orange as we’re utilising the whole orange, not just the zest and juice. With a thinner-skinned orange, it will be less bitter and juicier.
- Remove the seeds after it’s been cooked (if it has any). This will also help with bitterness and texture, so you don’t have any possible seeds in your cake.
- As we’re using the whole orange, try and source an organic or chemical-free one.
- It’ll keep for 4 days at room temperature in a well-sealed container. If it’s warm, you can place it in the fridge.
- If you want a less sweet cake, use darker chocolate for the glaze. Mine was 55% cocoa, so swap it out for 70-85% instead. I wouldn’t reduce the amount of sugar in the cake itself as that will impact the texture and structure.
- Let the cake cool completely before removing it from the baking tin. It will separate on the sides easier and it helps to set it.
- You can buy apple puree from the baby aisle in your local supermarket. I find that the apple sauce that’s dedicated to cooking and baking normally comes in bigger jars and I just don’t get through all of it in time before it goes mouldy. Less waste and much cheaper!
- If you use corn flour, your cake will be denser. I have experimented with it and it doesn’t come out as well in texture for this recipe. It will still hold very well and taste great, but the texture will be different.
- Please use scales for this recipe to get the best results.
This cake is a hybrid between a Sicilian orange cake and a chocolate flourless cake. It has the perfect amount of crumb, balance between chocolate and orange flavours, and is easy to eat!
Other recipes you’ll love:
- No-Bake Choc Coconut Slice (Vegan)
- Vegan Tufahije Recipe (Bosnian Walnut Stuffed Poached Apples)
- Classic Vegan Chocolate Cake
- Vegan Banana Cake with a Chocolate Ganache
- Easy Vegan Carrot Cake
If you try this recipe, let me know! We’d love for you to leave a comment and rating below. If you want to go that extra mile, tag us on Instagram or share your photo of the recipe on Pinterest.Print
Chocolate Orange Cake (Vegan & Gluten-Free)
- Prep Time: 35 minutes
- Bake Time: 1 hour
- Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
- Yield: 9-inch cake (12 slices)
A delicious gluten-free and vegan cake that is fluffy and decadent. Perfectly balanced amounts of orange and chocolate give this cake a luxurious feel without the fuss. A great dessert to make over the holidays!
- 1 thin-skinned orange (approx. 250g / 8.8 ounces)
- 1 cup / 230ml plant milk
- 1 cup / 175g maize meal*
- 1 cup / 225g cane sugar
- ½ cup / 105ml neutral oil (I used grapeseed)
- 1 cup / 125g almond flour / meal
- ⅓ cup / 35g cocoa powder
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup / 60g apple sauce
Chocolate ganache (optional):
- 120g / 4.23 ounces vegan chocolate (I used 55% dark and chopped up if using blocks of chocolate)
- ½ cup + 2 tablespoons / 130g coconut cream (or full-fat coconut milk)
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (355 degrees Fahrenheit) line a 9-inch cake tin with parchment paper on the base, and oil the sides. Set aside.
- Place the orange in a small saucepan and cover with water, bring to a boil and cook on high heat for 15 minutes. It’s cooked when you can pierce the orange without too much resistance. Drain the water and slice up the orange into chunks, removing any seeds. Do this carefully so you don’t burn yourself. Set aside to cool.
- While the orange cooks, bring the milk up to a gentle simmer.
- To a large bowl, add the maize meal and pour the warm milk over it, stirring immediately. It will thicken.
- Add in the sugar, mixing to combine. The warmth of the milk will melt the sugar.
- Add in the oil and mix really well to incorporate.
- Sift in the almond flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine.
- Add the cooked orange to a small food processor and blend for around 15-20 seconds. Add the apple sauce and blend again until you have orange puree. You will still have smaller chunks in the mix; that’s completely fine.
- Pour the orange mix into the bowl and mix until combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared tin and tap on the bench a couple of times to flatten the top.
- Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until a skewer comes out clean.
- Let it cool completely before removing it from the cake tin. It should separate from the sides on its own; however, I still like to run my knife around it just in case.
- For the ganache: Place the chocolate in a small saucepan on very low heat on the stove (alternatively over a double boiler). Stirring as it melts.
- Once it has all almost melted, remove from heat and let it completely melt, stirring. The heat from the pan will finish the melting without burning the chocolate.
- Add in the coconut cream and whisk until thoroughly combined. I like to use a whisk to ensure that the chocolate and cream are well incorporated.
- Let it cool for around 10 minutes in the fridge, so it thickens.
- Spread over the top of the cake and decorate with orange slices and / or orange zest (optional).
- It will keep in the fridge or at room temperature for up to 4 days.
Please use scales for this recipe to get the best results.
Maize meal: Maize meal is the consistency between corn flour (finely ground to a flour) and polenta (coarser brighter yellow meal). Not to be mistaken with corn starch which is a white powder that makes a squeaking noise when rubbed between your fingers.
Please see the tips in the post for more help with this recipe.
You can watch the full recipe video over on our YouTube channel.
- Diet: Vegan
Great recipe. I love the idea of whole orange in a cake. Have been exploring vegan dessert recipes recently and I made this for my family and some friends. Everyone loved it. I will make it again. It was super moist. My son loved the frosting. I added a tsp of orange zest to the frosting for extra orange flavor. I swapped maize meal & almond flour for whole wheat pastry flour, used only 2 tsp baking powder and 1/2tsp baking soda for high altitude adjustments.
Thanks for sharing your feedback and alterations Prakruti!
The cake has great flavour but mine turned out crumbly and the cornmeal felt rather obtrusive. It had a moist crumb but wasn’t at all fluffy.. I followed instructions exactly with no change to ingredients. Not sure what went wrong. It still tasted good though!
So sorry Emilye, I’m only getting back to you now. Cornmeal isn’t the same as maize meal. I know it can be a little confusing, but maize meal is finer and lighter in colour. This is why it didn’t fluff up as nicely and was probably coarser in texture. Glad you still enjoyed it, but give maize meal a try next time 🙂
This is a beautiful recipe and my family loved it. Thank you for sharing!
I’m so glad! Thanks for the review x
Hello what could I use in replacement for cornmeal please
Hi KerriAnne, I haven’t tried it with any other gluten-free alternatives. Corn flour will give you a denser cake, but it will still be delicious. I haven’t tried it, but potentially an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend might work. If you’re not gluten-free, you can make it with all-purpose plain flour. I hope that helps! Let me know how you go.
Hi, this looks really nice, I am just about to make it and have all my ingredients ready but have just read the instructions and it says to add oil? Please can you let me know how much to add, thanks 🙂
Hi Nicola, sorry I only saw this comment now. The ingredients list says ½ cup of neutral oil (105ml). I hope you spotted it and managed to make it 🙂
Thanks, I have had the cake tab open on my computer since the 27th June ready to make for my daughter’s birthday and so it hadn’t been refreshed when you amended the oil quantity! As soon as I posted my comment it refreshed and I saw the amount, typical!
Anyhow have since made it and it was delicious!
Everyone loved it! So 5*’s!
Haha, it happens! So glad it was a hit, thanks for the review x
The oil quantity is missing from the recipe above.
Oh, thank you for picking that up! Sorry I missed it. It should be ½ cup (105ml) of neutral oil.