This super moist Vegan Blood Orange Chocolate Olive Oil Cake should officially be on the baking "to-do" list before citrus season ends! With fresh blood orange juice, olive oil, and rich cocoa powder, this is truly the ultimate vegan chocolate orange cake!
*Recipe originally shared March 2019 & updated February 2022*
So...I think it's time to tell a confession. Before I started baking vegan, I never actually LOVED store-bought cake.
Here's the thing. I find a lot of cake can go one of two unideal ways; super dry and not at all flavorful or too sweet where all I can taste is sugar.
Now, that's where olive oil cakes come in. Using olive oil makes this blood orange chocolate cake incredibly light, moist, and tender.
Plus, using olive oil instead of butter lets the flavor of the blood orange and chocolate truly shine through. In fact, my Vegan Grapefruit Cake & Vegan Orange Blossom Fig Cake are both worth trying after baking this vegan blood orange cake.
- Cocoa powder: Make sure to use unsweetened cocoa powder.
- Blood Orange Frosting: While this is totally optional, it makes this cake even more delicious! if you prefer glaze you can swap it out for a blood orange glaze similar to what I did in my Vegan Grapefruit Cake.
- Unsweetened applesauce: Serves as the vegan egg replacement in this cake and also gives it moisture. It can also be substituted with vegan yogurt, but the cake may be slightly less sweet.
How to make a blood orange chocolate cake
Whisk dry ingredients
This includes pastry flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
I know a lot of recipes call for whisking or sifting the dry ingredients. While you can sometimes skip this step, when it comes to cakes with cocoa powder I don't recommend it.
That is because cocoa powder clumps together if it is not sifted. Let's be honest, no one wants clumps of cocoa in their cake!
Mix wet ingredients
Grab a separate mixing bowl and whisk together the wet ingredients including the freshly squeezed blood orange juice, olive oil, sugar, applesauce, vanilla, and orange zest.
Mix into cake batter
Next, add the bowl of sifted dry ingredients to the bowl of wet ingredients and mix until you have a thick cake batter.
The most important step here? DO NOT overmix the batter as over-mixed cakes can be dense and gummy. Remember, some lumps are okay and will come out while baking.
Add to pan & bake
Preheat the oven and then pour the cake batter into an 8-inch pan. I highly recommend using a spring-form pan for easy removal once the cake is baked.
I also highly recommend using parchment paper on the bottom of the cake pan and lightly greasing the sides so it doesn't stick. I honestly think it's worth it to buy the pre-cut cake liners if you bake cakes often!
Make blood orange buttercream frosting
Once the cake is baked, it's time to make the blood orange buttercream frosting. The first step is to cream together the vegan butter and vegan shortening until light and fluffy.
Next, whip in the blood orange juice and vanilla.
Finally, gradually mix in the powdered sugar until you have a smooth light pink frosting. I highly recommend sifting your powdered sugar before adding it for the smoothest frosting.
Then, frost the cake, dust with cocoa powder, and top with candied blood oranges.
P.S- you can follow this recipe for Easy Candied Blood Oranges that make a great topping for this vegan blood orange cake!
Tips for the making this cake:
- The Quality of Olive Oil you use in olive oil cakes DOES matter. High-quality olive oil will lead to a better crumb, texture, and more moist orange chocolate cake.
- The cocoa powder you use is super important too. Use high-quality cocoa powder and don't use dutch processed as it's not a 1:1 substitution.
- To get the most out of your blood oranges, use a citrus juicer. I've found that I can usually get away with squeezing lemons with my hand, but that's not the case with oranges. A juicer is really necessary to get the most out of blood oranges!
- Always sift your cocoa powder and powdered sugar. They are the two ingredients that can clump up if not sifted first!
FAQ & Tips:
Definitely! Just use a gluten-free 1:1 baking flour like Bob's Red Mill. Please note that using other flour alternatives like coconut flour or almond flour will not work in this recipe as it is not a 1:1 substitution.
You can technically use any liquid vegetable oil, but I don't recommend it. Part of the reason this cake is so good is because the flavor of the olive oil comes through. Plus, it makes the cake super tender and light.
If unfrosted the cake can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for 2 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
If frosted, I recommend slicing the cake and storing it in a closed container in the freezer for up to 1 month.
I don't recommend storing this cake in the fridge as it can dry it out, but if that is your only option it should keep for 4-5 days if well-wrapped.
I hope you are as excited as I am to bake this Vegan Blood Orange Chocolate Olive Oil Cake. If anything, I hope that the recipes on this site give you a deeper appreciation for the magic of olive oil in cakes. Enjoy this chocolate cake with blood-orange frosting!
More Vegan Dessert Recipes featuring citrus you will love:
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Vegan Blood Orange Chocolate Olive Oil Cake
Vegan Blood Orange Chocolate Cake
- 1 ½ cups pastry flour or cake flour
- 6 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ cup almond milk or any plant-based milk
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice
- 2 Tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons orange zest *zest of 1 orange
Blood Orange Frosting
- ½ cup vegan butter
- ⅓ cup shortening
- 2-3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed blood orange juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- 1-1 ½ cups organic powdered sugar
Make & Bake the Chocolate Orange Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease an 8-inch spring-form pan and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl sift together your dry ingredients including your pastry flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set the bowl aside.
- Next, whisk together your almond milk, olive oil, sugar, blood orange juice, applesauce, vanilla bean paste/extract, and orange zest in a separate mixing bowl.
- Once evenly mixed, slowly incorporate the bowl of sifted dry ingredients until a smooth chocolate cake batter has formed.
- Add the batter to the greased spring-form pan. Before putting the pan into the oven, tap the cake pan on the counter to release any large bubbles. Add to the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle. If you are using a larger pan, check the cake at the 25 minute mark as it will cook faster.
- Remove the cake from the oven and let cool to room temperature.
While the Cake is Cooling, Make the Frosting:
- Start by whipping together your vegan butter and shortening until smooth. Then add in the vanilla bean paste/extract and blood orange juice and whip for another 30 seconds.
- Finally, begin to gradually add the powdered sugar until no clumps remain and the frosting is smooth.
- Top your cooled cake with the blood orange frosting and use a spatula to smooth. Then, top with a dusting of cocoa powder and candied blood orange slices. Slice into 8 even pieces and enjoy!
- If you aren't a fan of vegan buttercream, you can also top this cake with a blood orange glaze (I've tried it and it's just as good!). Simply whisk together 1 cup powdered sugar with 2 Tbsp blood orange juice and 1 tsp orange zest for a thick and delicious glaze
- If you need to make the cake ahead of time, bake it and cover it in plastic wrap. It will keep at room temperature for 2-3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Do not frost the cake until you are ready to eat it.
- If frosted, this cake can be stored in a closed container in the freezer for up to 1 month. I would recommend slicing before freezing.
- I don't recommend storing this cake in the fridge as it can dry it out, but if that is your only option it should keep for 4-5 days if well-wrapped.
- This recipe is for an 8-inch cake. If you use a large or smaller pan, the baking time will vary.
- I recommend using a spring-form pan for easy release when baking this cake.
Excellent recipe! I've modified this several different ways and it works even without the blood oranges when they are out of season. I've also experimented with several different glazes, including lemon, lime and vanilla. Next up is grapefruit…
Yum all those combinations sound good! Grapefruit tends to be a bit more bitter and needs slightly more sugar, but I actually have a grapefruit olive oil cake you should try next :).
James Kezman says
Oh, yes, I will try that! I will also bake your lemon cookies as we have better access to vegan butter substitutes these days here in Germany.
Crystina Condon says
Just curious if its safe to use vanilla extract if I can't find vanilla paste?
Megan Horowitch says
Of course! I would just double the amount since paste has a stronger flavor.
Jennifer Willner says
This beautiful cake came out PERFECTLY. The flavors are wonderfully sophisticated, the candied blood oranges divine! I made it for my Niece's birthday and she was all thank you for making me a "real" cake! I'm like, a real cake? She says you know, not vegan. Surprise I say! Vegan!!! The frosting needs to chill or set before applying it to the cake. A smaller springform pan yields a taller cake. I'll definitely make this cake again!!!
That's amazing!! I'm so glad you both loved this cake 🙂 Thank you so much for the kind feedback!
I made this for my adult daughter's birthday yesterday - it did not disappoint! the complex flavors are delightful and perfect. I did sub raw cacao for the cocoa and it worked well. This was my first time using a new springform pan, and I did not realize it was 10" -- I may have overcooked it a bit, the cake was not quite as moist as I wanted it to be, but I took it out after 33 minutes because I could smell it browning, I wish I had checked it earlier. So for anyone using a larger pan, check after 25 minutes.
I will definitely make this again, thank you!
Thank you for the feedback Kristy and so glad you loved the cake! I will make a note in the baking time to check at 25 minutes if using a larger pan 🙂
Hello, I am planning on making this cake in the weekend. However I have not been able to find blood oranges which is a shame. Do you think normal oranges would still work? Also how did you get the fruit on top of the cake to look like that? Did you candy it and then role it in sugar?
Hi Mia! I do think normal oranges will work, it just will slightly change the flavor and color of the cake and frosting/glaze (it will be lighter). To get the blood oranges to look like that I candied them, rolled them in sugar, and then let them dry overnight before placing them on the cake. Hope that helps and hope you enjoy the cake!
Jasmin | Ve Eat Cook Bake says
Chocolate and Blood Orange sounds like an amazing combo. Love the color of the cram btw.
It is on my list to try it out.
Blood Orange really does make the best color frosting! I hope you try this cake and love it 🙂