If chocolate cake is my friend, chocolate orange cake is my best friend.  Bestest best friend.

We have lots of recipes for cakes but when it comes to simple, basic, and never-fail, Victor heads straight to his battered copy of the Better Homes & Gardens Cook Book.

Cake-baking is a science, and it can either be a complicated science or an un-complicated science.  BH&G makes in uncomplicated.  Simple, basic ingredients and instructions.

He tweaked the basic chocolate cake recipe by adding orange zest and 1/2 cup orange juice to the batter (and cutting the milk by 1/2 cup.)  The icing is just butter and powdered sugar with orange zest and orange juice.  All fresh-squeezed, of course!

BH&G Best Chocolate Cake


  • 3/4  cup  butter, softened
  • 3  eggs
  • 2  cups  all-purpose flour
  • 3/4  cup  unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1  teaspoon  baking soda
  • 3/4  teaspoon  baking powder
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 2  cups  sugar
  • 2  teaspoons  vanilla
  • 1-1/2  cups  milk


1. Allow butter and eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly grease bottoms of three 8-inch round baking pans or two 8x8x2-inch square or 9×1-1/2-inch round cake pans. Line bottom of pans with waxed paper. Grease and lightly flour waxed paper and sides of pans. Or grease one 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Set pan(s) aside.

2. In a mixing bowl stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder; and salt; set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, beating on medium speed until well combined (3 to 4 minutes). Scrape sides of bowl; continue beating on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition (about 1 minute total). Beat in vanilla.

4. Alternately add flour mixture and milk to beaten mixture, beating on low speed just until combined after each addition. Beat on medium to high speed for 20 seconds more. Spread batter evenly into the prepared pan(s).

5. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 35 to 40 minutes for 8-inch square pans and the 13x9x2-inch pan, 30 to 35 minutes for 8- or 9-inch round pans, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cake layers in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans. Peel off waxed paper. Cool thoroughly on wire racks. Or place 13x9x2-inch cake in pan on a wire rack; cool thoroughly. Frost with desired frosting. Makes 12 to 16 servings.

For the holidays, this also makes a great peppermint chocolate cake by substituting 1 tsp peppermint extract for 1 tsp vanilla.  And peppermint icing, of course!

Love It!