Vegan Chocolate Orange Cakes

Created by Laura Wright
5 from 1 vote

Vegan chocolate orange cake is so rich and delicious without any gluten or refined sugar. Perfect for a special occasion.

Vegan chocolate orange cake (gluten-free and sweetened with dates).
Vegan chocolate orange cake (gluten-free and sweetened with dates).
Simply Vibrant by Anya Kassof

I needed this vegan chocolate cake recipe in my life. Mostly because: cake, but also because its inherent virtuousness (still talking abut cake) really uplifted and inspired me.

I used to focus a lot of energy on making vegan desserts that were also somewhat nutritionally virtuous. I would exasperate myself beyond belief doing it! (see these cookies) I don’t have the patience for the trials and errors of baking, especially when you start taking away gluten, sugar etc. I told myself that if I was going to enjoy a treat, I would just make it an all caps, full-on, sugar and everything T-R-E-A-T. I reassured myself that hearty savouries were my strong suit, and that healthy desserts weren’t worth my time and energy anymore.

But this cake. It’s fudge-y, dense, undeniably chocolaty with so much beautiful fragrance from fresh orange, and it’s easy to make! It’s also entirely sweetened with a mix of dates , applesauce, and orange juice. Another thing: it’s gluten-free! And vegan, obviously. The level of achievement this cake ascends to… it’s exhausting and awesome.

And I can’t even take credit for it! The recipe is from the brand new cookbook by Anya Kassoff of the Golubka Kitchen blog, with transcendent photography by her daughter Masha Davydova. I’m very bad at staying up to date with everything in blog land, but I always check when Anya has updates. Her recipes hit the right note of produce-focused, perfectly attuned to what level of satisfaction the season demands, and very smart flavor pairings.

I had seen an earlier galley of Simply Vibrant, but I didn’t know how much I needed this dose of inspiration until the physical book showed up at my door. We’re in that deep, lingering last stretch of Winter, and I’m admittedly slipping into a staid routine with all of our meals. Anya’s style speaks to exactly what we’re all craving I think: seasonal shifts on international flavours, streamlined and intuitive cooking methods, and a nourishing plant-powered undercurrent that is present but not in-your-face.

Even the section breakdown of the book speaks to the way that I think a lot of us find ourselves eating these days (Morning Porridges & Pancakes, Salads & Bowls, Just Veggies, and a chapter devoted to Noodles, Pasta & Pizza, among others).  Recipes I’m looking at for the near future Broccoli Stem Riceless Risotto, the Gluten-Free Onion Pizza Crust technique, Creamy Steel Cut Oats with Rainbow Chard and Pine Nuts, and the Tomato and Eggplant Green Mung Dal.

I can tell you with certainty that Anya’s recipes are foolproof. For a person that owns many cookbooks and blogs about food for a living, it (surprisingly!) takes a very special body of work to get me to cook from a recipe to a tee night after night. Simply Vibrant inspires me to do that. This book is going to be my new fave for a long time.

Vegan chocolate orange cake (gluten-free and sweetened with dates).
Vegan chocolate orange cake (gluten-free and sweetened with dates).

Vegan Chocolate Orange Cake

Vegan chocolate orange cake is so rich and delicious without any gluten or refined sugar. Perfect for a special occasion.
5 from 1 vote
The Perfect Vegan Chocolate Cake (vegan + gluten-free, date-sweetened) from "Simply Vibrant" - The First Mess
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Resting Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 10 mini bundts



  • 1 cup soft Medjool dates, pitted
  • 2 tablespoons neutral coconut oil, at room temperature, plus extra for oiling the pan
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of sea salt
  • zest of 1-2 oranges
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar


  • ¼ cup finely chopped dark chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon neutral coconut oil


  • Anya’s original recipe calls for one big bundt cake, and I’ve left the baking time/instructions for that version here. If you have mini bundts like I do (this pan by Nordic Ware), I’ll let you know that I got 10 total out of this recipe, and that they took about 18-20 minutes to cook.
  • This cake is for lovers of chocolate + orange together. There’s just no way around it!
  • Skip the chocolate sauce glaze at the end if you want this to be totally sugar-free.
  • To make this nut-free, I recommend replacing the almond flour with sunflower seed flour, which I talk about making in this post. Anya notes that you can just use more brown rice flour as well!
  • Anya suggests garnishing the cake with chopped pistachios and more orange zest. I used dried rose petals because I was out of pistachios, but also because ROMANCE.


  • Soak the dates in hot purified water for 10 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a bundt pan with coconut oil.
  • Combine the flours, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and orange zest in a large bowl; mix thoroughly.
  • Reserve ½ cup of the date soaking water and add it to a blender along with the drained dates and orange juice; blend until smooth. Add the applesauce, coconut oil, and balsamic vinegar, and pulse to combine. Pour the date mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir just until everything is incorporated.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan, transfer it to the oven, and bake for 55-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool for at least 20 minutes, then invert the cake onto a plate or cake stand.
  • Make the glaze: Melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a double boiler setup until liquified and combined. Pour the glaze over the vegan chocolate orange cake and garnish as you please (more orange zest, chopped pistachios or dried rose petals).
10/02/2018 (Last Updated 25/10/2022)
Posted in: autumn, dessert, gluten free, holidays, refined sugar-free, spring, sweet, vegan, winter


5 from 1 vote

Recipe Rating

  • Pennie

    5 stars
    This cake is above and beyond delicious , easy, healthy, pantry friendly.
    I love to cook & bake, and i usually only make something once, and move on..this has been on repeat! Thanks for this, and all your great recipes!!!

  • Veronica

    This sounds absolutely mouthwatering, I’ve never had bundt cake before, but I would love to try it. Although the giveaway is over I would still like to contribute. My favorite thing to make when I’m in a rut is beef stir fry, my dad and I have made it together a lot in the past when he was teaching me how to cook. 

  • Joyce

    This is a wonderful recipe producing a delicious cake!  Thank you!  Brilliant to eliminate any added sugars and instead use the soaking date water and the orange juice as sweeteners.  One change I made was to use medium grain cornmeal instead of the rice flour.   It worked very well, cake was incredibly moist and light.  Thank you again and for all the work you do and share.

  • Tom

    I made this cake for my own birthday as I wanted something really healthy and no one else knows how to do this in my circle. For the glaze, I simply mixed 1/4 cup maple syrup with 1/4 cup cocoa powder as it’s less fat. It’s incredibly delicious and rich tasting. Such a great cake .

  • writingpaper

    I tried this recipe … it’s just awesome! My colleague from my job loves this recept very much, I have known for a long time that this is a very useful and tasty dish, but I did not dare to cook it, but in vain, in fact everything is much easier than it seems, my husband was just ecstatic! Thanks again for the recipe. Bon Appetit everyone !!

  • Tara Kelly

    These small cakes look so good! I could have one just about now although I just had dinner. Anyways, I have rice flour but I don’t have almond flour. Can I make almond flour using almonds? Or can use some other replacement such as all-purpose flour? Will the recipe still work for me?

  • Flora

    Wow – your food photography is amazing! These look absolutely mouth watering, I hope mine turn out just as pretty :)

  • Donna in Inwood

    Looks lovely and worth a try, but I can’t do rice flour. (no grain)

    How about cassava flour instead? white rice flour always looks very fine and powdery to me, and Cassava has a similar texture. It also has some starchiness.

    It’s probably a stronger flavor than rice, but maybe the best alternative? Or would arrowroot be better?


    • Laura

      Cassava is usually the easiest grain-free substitute. I haven’t tried it so cannot guarantee results, but if I HAD to make this one grain-free (which I honestly think might be a stretch given the nature of the cake already), I’d go to cassava first.

  • Maria Koutsogiannis

    OMG these look so good. Also, the photography is amazing. Thanks for sharing girl :D

  • Ann

    This is a fabulous recipe. Thank you for sharing. Just ordered the cookbook.

  • Jeffrey

    This cake looks amazing and the ingredients list is awesome!

  • Jei

    Nut and date cookies. Super easy, fast, and perfect for when I’m looking for something to curb a sweet craving.

  • Hannah

    I bake when I am in a cooking rut…most often muffins or yeast bread. It may not get dinner on the table, but at least it gets me excited to be in the kitchen again.

  • Gracie Hinz

    all nut milks, there is just so much you can do with them!

  • Rebecca Liebes

    When I’m in a cooking rut I make margaritas! Frozen fruit, lime juice, Patron Citronage and Patron. Delicious!

  • Clara

    Hello! Tomorrow, feb14th is my birthday!!!! it would be lovely to receive this beautiful book !
    my fav recipe that keeps me IN tha house is Soca, its incredibly easy and fast and I eat it as a burrito, stuff it with some avocado and greens and chopped beetroot and voila! dinner ready!

  • Mollj

    Whenever I get bored with all my recipes, I whip up one that always gets me excited to eat dinner – vegan biscuits and sausage gravy. It’s not the healthiest, even veganized, but I serve it with lightly sauteed greens and it just really hits the spot.

  • Shirlie

    Hi, Laura,
    What a great question! My go-to recipe for when I feel bored with my usual ideas is Mark Bittma’s Indian Stuffed Eggplant. I love the flavors and heat from this recipe! Vegan, too. I sub cashews for the peanuts his recipe calls for.
    My daughter requested we try the chocolate orange cake recipe for her classmates for tomorrow. Thank you; I love everything about your blog.

  • Cristina

    Hi Laura,
    Thanks for this opportunity.
    I’d say risotto, good arborio rice, soffritto, asparagus/mushrooms/potatoes/squash/peas and a hearty veg stock. Makes for a very satisfying and comforting dinner.

  • angelina

    Yotam Ottolenghi’s hummus from Jerusalem, which may seem pretty every day….but he offers so many ways to ‘dress it up’ with stuff I already have in my fridge. Plus I can add soft pita, or crunchy toast or veggies, and my kids gobble it up no matter what I put on it. I always come away from trying new flavour combos on the hummus with an spark of an idea to pursue in another dish. Most recently- sumac!

  • Irena

    Preparing lentil soups is never a routine – classic Dal and its numerous variations with brown or green lentils and different sets of spices, which gives completely different, sometimes unexpected but always tasty result at the end.

  • maria

    Onion soup. All range, from yellow, with a bit of delicate broth taste to the hot spicy red one, with a lot of caramelized red onion and gingerbread spices (that one is a great warmer in winter and every time a bit of surprise, because usually each time a little different proportions of spices are used).

  • Sophie D.

    Definitely a Buddha bowl in a mason jar curled up on the couch. Healthy + cozy = DUH!