Chocolate, Lime and Orange Cake

This is a rich, bold cake with strong flavours that compliment each other. The lime and orange cut through the rich creamy chocolate beautifully. Frivolous cakes can be great, but this isn’t one; it’s a cake for everyone, but it’s especially for “serious” cake lovers.

Serves: 10

Time: 1hr 50 min + cooling

Difficulty: Easy

Tins: 2 x 20cm/8” round, loose bottomed

Credits: Adapted from a recipe by Diana Henry (BBC Good food magazine)


For the syrup

  • 30ml lime juice (2 limes)
  • 30ml orange juice (1 medium orange)
  • 25g caster sugar

For the sponges

  • 225g butter, softened
  • 225g light brown soft sugar
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp milk

For the candied fruit

  • 2 limes, zested
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 100g granulated sugar

For the lime cream cheese filling

  • 250g full fat cream cheese
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 90ml double cream
  • Zest of 2 limes

For the orange chocolate icing

  • 60ml double cream + 1 tbsp
  • 120g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 50g orange marmalade


1. First, make the syrup. Gently heat the lime juice, orange juice and sugar together, stirring to ensure the sugar dissolves fully. Set aside until later.

2. Heat oven to 180C / fan 160C / 350F / Gas 4. Grease and base line the tins and dust lightly with flour or cocoa powder.

3. Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder into a mixing bowl and stir together.

4. In another bowl, beat the butter briefly then add the sugar and beat some more, until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs gradually, beating between each addition. Add in a teaspoon of the flour mixture with each egg to avoid curdling.

5. Fold the rest of the flour mixture into the wet mixture. Stir in the milk if it seems dry.

6. Spoon an equal amount into each cake tin and bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

7. Leave in the tins for 5 – 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack. Peel off the baking parchment. Before the sponges have cooled completely, pierce the tops all over with a skewer or fork then spoon or brush the fruit syrup over them.  Leave to cool completely.

8. To make the candied fruit zest, pare the zest from the limes and orange, cutting in broad strips. Cut away any white pith and discard then slice the zest into narrow strips. Put them in a pan and cover with water then bring to the boil. Cook for about a minute, then drain and rinse. Dry the pieces and set aside.

9. Juice the limes and orange and add enough water to make about 200ml overall. Heat gently with the sugar until the sugar has melted. Add the strips of zest and simmer until the liquid has almost evaporated and turned syrupy – about half an hour. Lift the pieces out using a slotted spoon and lay on kitchen paper to dry. (* see note below)

10. To make the lime cream filling, beat the cream cheese until softened then sift in the icing sugar and beat some more, gently at first then more rigorously. Add the double cream and beat to obtain a firm mixture. Stir in the lime zest.

11. Use the cream cheese filling to stack and assemble the two cakes.  If time allows, place in the fridge for half an hour or longer, to firm up.

12. To make the orange chocolate icing, heat the cream then remove from the heat. Add the broken chocolate pieces and allow them to melt then stir. Put the marmalade in a small pan with the extra tbsp. of cream and heat slowly to dissolve. Sieve this into the chocolate mixture and stir to blend it all together. Take the cake out of the fridge and place on a turntable, plate or base.

13. Let the icing cool slightly (don’t allow it to set) then pour it over the cake, encouraging it to run down the sides occasionally. Decorate with the candied zests.

* The candied zests make an edible decoration, but the candying process can drain them of their vibrant colour. An alternative would be to simply zest the fruit directly onto the cake or to add strips of zest.

I hope you enjoy making (and eating) this lovely cake. If you want to see more chocolate cake recipes click here. 

Two chocolate cakes I’d especially recommend are my Caramelised White Chocolate and Raspberry Cake, which is rather different but equally tasty. The other is my Chocolate and Orange Marbled Ring Cake, which is really impressive and perfect for a special occasion.

Or have a look at my site for lots of other recipes, sweet and savoury. If you’d like to comment or ask a question please do, via the contact page.