This dark chocolate orange loaf cake is rich, moist and deliciously gluten-free and dairy-free. Cocoa powder and orange zest give this cake the perfect flavor balance of bitter and sweet. Topping choices are included in the recipe.
I tested this recipe with King Arthur Measure for Measure Flour. Several other gluten-free flours for baking will work. Cup4Cup (best price usually at Target) and Pamela’s Artisan Flour Blend are similar to King Arthur’s and will work well. If you use a flour blend that does not contain xanthan gum, guar gum or inulin (binders), add 3/4 tsp xanthan gum to the recipe.
Cocoa powder is the best way to get a strong dark chocolate flavor into baked goods. For a gluten-free cocoa powder, Hershey’s is the easiest to find. Unfortunately, Ghirardelli recently added a wheat warning to their cocoa powder. My personal preference is organic cacao powder.
The juice and zest of fresh oranges gives this cake a strong pop of orange. What is “orange zest?” The zest is the colored outer layer of the peel and has a strong orange flavor. It’s a great way to get flavor into a recipe without adding liquid. Use a microplane to get very finely grated zest that will disappear into the cake. Here is my quick tutorial on how to zest citrus.
If you want to make this cake a little quicker to prepare, here is an alternative to using fresh oranges, Use 3 Tbsp prepared, low or no-pulp orange juice and 1½ tsp. orange extract.
Dairy-free yogurt makes this cake rich and moist. My preferred vegan yogurt is Kite Hill Almond Milk yogurt. The flavor and texture are amazing. So Delicious and Coco Yo are good options. Forager Cashew Yogurt is very thick and not ideal in this recipe.
I prefer oil over butter in my cakes. Oil does a much better job of adding moisture to baked goods. Avocado oil, sunflower, canola or vegetable oil are all good options.
Mixing the Cake Batter
I must admit, as much as I love a one-bowl cake recipe this one takes three. Using this method assures that the cocoa powder is incorporated and creates a moist, rich texture in the cake. Have you ever tried to use unsweetened cocoa powder for hot chocolate? It does not easily dissolve into the milk and when it does, it’s lumpy.
We’ll avoid this problem by mixing the cocoa powder with heated oil and orange juice first. This way, the batter will be smooth and the cake will be fudgy and rich.
I have included a white chocolate ganache recipe below. For a dairy-free white chocolate, I prefer this vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free white chocolate (also nut, soy and peanut free). It’s a little sweeter than other white chocolates, so I recommend adding 1/4 tsp salt to the ganache for flavor balance. For a double dose of chocolate, my 2 ingredient, vegan, dairy-free chocolate ganache is a gorgeous easy topping.
If you prefer a traditional cake frosting recipe, try my 2 ingredient vegan chocolate frosting, vegan chocolate cream cheese frosting, pipeable cream cheese frosting or my traditional chocolate buttercream frosting and vanilla buttercream frosting.