Ultimate chocolate cake

Ultimate chocolate cake

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(902 ratings)


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Cooking time

Prep: 30 mins - 40 mins Cook: 1 hr - 1 hr, 30 mins Plus baking and cooling time

Skill level



Cuts into 14 slices

Indulge yourself with Angela Nilsen's heavenly moist and fudgy chocolate cake - perfect for celebrations - birthdays, weddings, christenings - any excuse!

Nutrition and extra info

Additional info

  • Without icing
Nutrition info


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  • 200g good quality dark chocolate, about 60% cocoa solids
  • 200g butter
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee granules
  • 85g self-raising flour
  • 85g plain flour
  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 200g light muscovado sugar
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 75ml buttermilk (5 tbsp)
  • grated chocolate or curls, to decorate

For the ganache

  • 200g good quality dark chocolate, as above
  • 284ml carton double cream (pouring type)
  • 2 tbsp golden caster sugar

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  1. Butter a 20cm round cake tin (7.5cm deep) and line the base. Preheat the oven to fan 140C/conventional 160C/ gas 3. Break 200g good quality dark chocolate in pieces into a medium, heavy-based pan. Cut 200g butter into pieces and tip in with the chocolate, then mix 1 tbsp instant coffee granules into 125ml cold water and pour into the pan. Warm through over a low heat just until everything is melted – don’t overheat. Or melt in the microwave on Medium for about 5 minutes, stirring half way through.
  2. While the chocolate is melting, mix 85g self-raising flour, 85g plain flour, ¼ bicarbonate of soda, 200g light muscovado sugar, 200g golden caster sugar and 25g cocoa powder in a big bowl, mixing with your hands to get rid of any lumps. Beat 3 medium eggs in a bowl and stir in 75ml (5 tbsp) buttermilk.
  3. Now pour the melted chocolate mixture and the egg mixture into the flour mixture, stirring just until everything is well blended and you have a smooth, quite runny consistency. Pour this into the tin and bake for 1 hour 25- 1 hour 30 minutes – if you push a skewer in the centre it should come out clean and the top should feel firm (don’t worry if it cracks a bit). Leave to cool in the tin (don’t worry if it dips slightly), then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. When the cake is cold, cut it horizontally into three. Make the ganache: chop 200g good quality dark chocolate into small pieces and tip into a bowl. Pour a 284ml carton of double cream into a pan, add 2 tbsp golden caster sugar, and heat until it is about to boil. Take off the heat and pour it over the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.
  5. Sandwich the layers together with just a little of the ganache. Pour the rest over the cake letting it fall down the sides and smoothing to cover with a palette knife. Decorate with grated chocolate or a pile of chocolate curls. The cake keeps moist and gooey for 3-4 days.

Recipe from Good Food magazine, April 2004

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gilllegge's picture
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Made this yesterday for my daughters 7th birthday. Made the cake exactly as per the recipe, the only difference was I used milk chocolate for the icing as it was for children. Managed to cut into three layers although the bottom layer (originally the top) did crumble but held together once iced. And the result - blooming lovely! Will deffinately be making this again. Decorated with flake, maltesers and large chocolate stars. Looked fab. My other daughter tried warming a slice In the microwave today for tea and it was lush. The icing became a sauce, yum yum.

erichvon's picture

Talk about a useless recipe! DO NOT FOLLOW THE GANACHE INSTRUCTIONS! I followed the recipe exactly due to the fact I'd not used it before. There was no mention of letting the ganache cool down or whipping it to thicken it so I followed the instructions and poured it on. Needless to say it just soaked into the cake, went everywhere and then the cake (which looked good) disintegrated. Fortunately my girlfriend, who I was baking the cake for as a birthday cake saw the funny side. I however did not see anything remotely amusing considering how much it had cost for ingredients or my time. Looking up ganache on here tells you how to make it and use it unlike this recipe. Would I use it again? No chance!

vrog's picture

Also works well with gluten free flour - slightly crumblier but still rich and gorgeous

cooking80's picture
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rachel4500's picture
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I've made this cake so many times and every time it comes out perfectly. It's a fudgy, chocolately cake that always goes down a treat and is my go to chocolate cake recipe.

Personally, I bake the cake in 2x20cm tins at 150C for 50-55mins.
Also depending on who the recipient is I will replace some of the dark chocolate with milk chocolate. Other frostings also work well with this cake e.g. meringue or buttercream.
If you don't have buttermilk then natural yoghurt works as a great replacement.
Also you can't taste the coffee- it is just there to enhance the chocolate flavour and does not come through as a solo taste once the cake is baked.
The cake is fragile when it comes out of the tin so be gentle, and do not attempt to cut layers before the cake is completely cool.

It is a very sweet, intense and brownie-like cake so if you haven't got a sweet tooth I'd recommend reducing the sugar quantities as suggested in other comments- by around 30g each.

peggyw's picture

This cake is always amazing! I've adapted it a little along the way - I always use 2 20cm tins for about 40 mins, I use 100g of plain & SR gluten free flours (if I remember I add less than 1/4 tsp of Xantham gum) just so that it's not too crumbly, 3 large eggs & 170g of each sugar & it's just perfect....every time....& I've made it so many times that I've lost count. Just the yummiest chocolate cake ever. Also depending on who I'm making it for as to whether I use some good quality milk chocolate in the ganache instead of all plain.

kerry1984's picture

Made this cake for valentines day. I made it in 2 tins in my aga took about 40 minutes. The cake wa absolutely delicious will definitely make it again

dhanisha_j's picture
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This recipe is so easy and tastes unbelieveable!

At first I was a bit apprehensive due to the amount of dark chocolate this recipe contains.....I'm not a dark chocolate fan. However, it was amazing! I did use the coffee which I was surprised with. The cake had no coffee flavour for those who don't enjoy it. So big thumbs up from me.

I baked this in 2 tins for 30 minutes on the recommenced oven temperature and the cake was so moist....just perfect.

I didn't use all the ganache within this recipe as I though it may have become sickly so I used 3/4 of it.

I decorated mine with white chocolate covered strawberries. The following day I heated a slice up and enjoyed every moment of it.

I will definitely be making this again :)

DBL1999's picture

This is absolutely awesome... made this for loads of ppl that came for tea... chocolate bits and bobs on the top went a bit wrong and my brothers calld it your ' Bedhead Cake' but tasted really good and i did the ganache with milk choc coz i wasn't sure that every1 liked dark choc and that was fine... every1 really liked it ...

bethaneyj's picture
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No idea what went wrong for everyone else. Great cake. Followed the recipe exactly. Even poured the ganache on while warm. It's easy and gorgeous. Like a huge brownie cake. Not crumbly, not sunken. Shiny ganache too.

And I sliced it into three without trouble using a cake wire cutter that I cannot recommend enough. Even if (by my own mistake) the layers were a little uneven.

http://i.imgur.com/zFhoUCo.jpg <- thats a picture of the back where there was no ganache. Partly so I could see the layers and partly because I liked the look of the ganache at the top!!

ecstow's picture
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I was a bit nervous about this recipe when I saw the very negative comments because I'm not a very competent baker but I read the recipe and the advice in the comments carefully and the cake turned out really well - truely delicious. I have made it twice - for a Macmillan coffee morning and for my daughter's birthday and both times have had very positive feedback: it was a huge hit with my daughter's flatmates. These are the amendments I made to the recipe:
1. I made the cake with 50:50 milk chocolate and 70% dark chocolate because I thought 100% dark chocolate might be too intense.

2. I added 1 tsp instead of 1tbsp instant coffee because I thought the coffee flavour might be too strong.

3. I didn't have any buttermilk so made buttermilk substitute by adding 5ml lemon juice to 70ml milk

4. I didn't want to risk cutting the cake horizontally into layers so I divided the mixture over two tins and baked for half the time. I tested them after 45 minutes in the oven and they were fine.

5. It is REALLY important to let the cake (s) cool completely before you try to take the grease proof lining off or take them out of the baking tin(s). They are really crumbly when just out of the oven. Best to make the cake the day before you want to serve it.

6. You need to put the ganache in the fridge for 2-3 hours to thicken before coating the cake, otherwise it will be too runny and won't adhere.

I would definitely make this cake again - it's yummy.

aoibhingormley's picture
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Really delicious - dense and fudgy as other people have said. Takes quite a long while to cook (especially when your other half turns oven off half way through!!!).

Sue In Belize's picture
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I was a bit nervous about this recipe as there seem to be a wide range of opinions about it. I am a fair cook, but not regular cake maker. However, I "made" it in my head, and it seemed it would work, so I went ahead. The only change I made to the cake was to use all plain flour and more baking soda - that's because we can't buy self raising flour here, and I cut the sugar down to 300g of plain white as I can't get the fancy stuff. Also cut the coffee to a teaspoon. I used Belizean organic dark chocolate, my own free range eggs, and a knob of butter in the gannache, as well as a Tbsp of rum. I cut it in two, and sandwiched it with home made mango jam.

I cooked it for an hour and 30 minutes, in a loose bottomed tin lined with baking parchment. The cake rose a little and cracked slightly, but that was no bother as it a) made it look home made and b) was covered with ganache anyway. I left it overnight to cool, and cut it in half with a very sharpknife, it was easy to do.

The ganache, I made and left to cool and them beat it to thicken it. It went on without a single drip, although it wasn't a smooth glossy finish. I decorated the cake with tropical flowers from the garden - hibiscus, yesterday today and tomorrow and the like. It looked stunning, wish \i had taken a pic!

I believe the problems people have had with this cake are that it is very fudgy, not really a light sponge at all. Also, if you make it with good dark chocolate, it is very intense - which is just what I like. I guess people who think Herschey is chocolate might be expecting a different taste. I can imagine making this with a good dairy milk chocolate, in which case I might cut back on the sugar still more.

Everyone adored it, and I would absolutely make it again, but, if you want something for kids, or something light, it might be a bit too much chocolate.

cutie32's picture
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I am not a chocolate person so I can't rate it myself but the people I made it for loved it.

I used 72% dark chocolate. I think the cake on it's own without the icing taste good and the icing is not necessary BUT my issue with the cake is that the top rose above the edges and cracked. I pressed it back down before icing it. So I wouldn't be able to serve it without icing it.

I also had issues cutting the cake in half. The top was very fragile and part of it broke off but I was able to put it back together before icing it and the icing made it less noticeable. She should have given us tips on how to cut the cake in two without the top falling apart. If I had cut it in 3 as she suggested it would have been a mess. Then again I used a slightly bigger tin.

IFYOU ARE USING A SILICONE TIN CHECK THE CAKE AFTER 50 MINS. I am lucky in that I checked the cake after 1 hour. I think if it had cooked anymore it would have burned. So be careful with silicone tins.


And YES you should put the cake in the fridge after you ice it for the icing to set.
I live in a tropical country so this is a MUST. But I think you should anyway.

Serve it with vanilla icecream. That way if people are not dark chocolate lovers they can make it more sweet.

Next time I will try to make it without the icing. I might have to take it out the oven earlier to prevent the top cracking

Flaboon's picture
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Quite simply the worst cake I have made or tasted, I should have read the reviews before I started. In a nutshell, the cake took 40 minutes more than the 1hr 30 before the skewer poked clean, impossible to cut in to 2 let alone 3, the ganache is bitter and so is the cake, I made it look pretty by sticking cigarillos around the edge and filling the top with raspberries but the cake was a stodgy mess, those who ate it referred to as "dense". Half the cake was left and that was only after I forced a couple of friends to take some home, I am using the left over half for a rather attractive door stop!

Wendy Endersby's picture

This recipe needs significant changes if you are going to get a successful result - I suggest reducing the coffee to a teaspoon and reducing the sugar to half as much - ensure you use good quality chocolate and divide into 2-3 tins so it cooks through properly. It is more like a brownie mix so needs to have well lined tins so it can be removed once cooled - however does taste good.

leannebassett's picture

I agree Wendy. I haven't reduced the sugar as yet - but I do increase both flour to 100g and I HAD to reduce coffee (in my case to half a teaspoon) as the first time it was overwhelming.
I divide the mixture veteran three tins and cook for 40 minutes. To my friends and family I call it my 'chocolate brownie cake' as it is very much like a brownie when finished.

I use milk chocolate or a mix of dark and light depending on what is in the cupboard- all dark was again overwhelming.
Delicious cake- my husband loves it and he not into chocolate.

LaurenJCh94's picture

I made this for my birthday. Came out perfect!! A very very nice chocolate moist cake. The ganache makes it. Definately depends what chocolate you buy as this will effect the overall taste.

elizabeth1965's picture

Baked in 2 tins and sandwiched together with a jar of Tesco salted caramel Sauce. Topped with melted chocolate. Very well received and many requests for recipe. I'm not famed for my baking so v pleased with this cake