Ultimate chocolate cake

Ultimate chocolate cake

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(965 ratings)

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

Easy

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

  • Without icing

Nutrition:

  • kcal541
  • fat35g
  • saturates20g
  • carbs55g
  • sugars40g
  • fibre2g
  • protein6g
  • salt0.51g
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Ingredients

  • 200g good quality dark chocolate, about 60% cocoa solids
  • 200g butter
    Butter

    Butter

    butt-err

    Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…

  • 1 tbsp instant coffee granules
  • 85g self-raising flour
  • 85g plain flour
  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
    Bicarbonate of soda

    Bicarbonate of soda

    Bicarbonate of soda, or baking soda, is an alkali which is used to raise soda breads and full-…

  • 200g light muscovado sugar
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 3 medium egg
  • 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

Method

  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.

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Comments, questions and tips

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Comments (1446)

colalouise's picture

This is a rich, dense and fudgy cake. It is the sort of cake where you only need a small slice. It is fragile so I line the base and sides of the tins and allow them to cool in the tins completely. I baked the cake in two 8 inch tins for 40 minutes (not fan). I changed the ingredients slightly, my changes are;

I used 1/4 tsp of baking powder instead of bicarbonate of soda.
I used 3 large eggs (around 63g each) instead of medium.
I substituted the buttermilk for natural yoghurt and I only used 2 tbsps.

For the ganache, I use equal amounts of chocolate to cream. This seems to produce a spreadable filling once cooled and left to sit in the fridge for an hour.

Hope this info helps.

Lucym808's picture

Is the coffee necessary/ does it make the cake taste like coffee at all?

colalouise's picture

You can't taste the coffee at all. The coffee is there as it enchances the chocolate flavour. :)

Myles's picture
5

Yes, it is delicious. I made the cake with half the sugar (100g muscavado, 100g caster sugar) and it was still quite sweet enough! I also followed others recommendations here and split the cake mixture and cooked it in two tins for 45 minutes (in a fan oven). I didn't use the ganache but instead used the "Chocolate fudge icing" recipe also available on this website. Yum!

pjtives's picture
3.75

I made this for my wifes birthday, everyone enjoyed it and I was complimented many times. Gave up on the curls was getting chocolate everywhere except on the cake. I used runny whipping cream (para montar here in Spain) for the ganache but felt it to be too runny so I added 200gms of buttercream mix without the butter , that thickened it up a treat and was able to spread all over the cake without it falling off. I used the same for the filling but also spread a few large spoons of homemade strawberry jam inside too.I used "Quark" in place of sour cream. Had no problem splitting it using one of those things with a wire stretched between the two legs, this was done the next day. Decorated with chocolate leaves and glace cherries and dusted with icing sugar. It was moist, gooey, chcolatey, not overly sweet nor bitter, they loved it.
It took 1h10mins and the top was a bit too crisp for my liking, probably too high on the shelf, luckily I was keeping an eye on it as the 1h25m would have killed it. I flipped it over so the crispy bit was at the bottom. That worked ok. As I said the ganache was runny but may have been due to hot waether or wrong cream. I got around that as well.
Probably only the 3rd Choc cake I have ever made and it was well worth the trouble. I will certainly be making this again. My wife was very happy !!!!

jj23's picture
5

Heavenly!!! The best chocolate cake I have had ever! I have made it several times and made a 3 layer party cake last week!

SamP mum of 3's picture
5

Beautiful cake, gooey, chewy almost brownie like but still holds like a layer cake. I made it exactly to the recipe and none of the family said they found it too bitter (some people here suggest to make it 50% milk 50% dark chocolate which I'm sure would be lovely too) the ganache was slightly runny when first made, so I popped it into the fridge for it to stiffen slightly before adding it to the cake. Didn't bother with the curls etc but might add them next time I make it.

Emmzahh's picture
1.25

Not really that amazed with this recipe. Don't get me wrong, it tastes nice, but the amount of sugar makes the outside very chewy. This recipe resembles more of a brownie than a cake in my opinion, way too fudgy and gooey to use as a layer cake.

doccharis's picture
5

BEST chocolate cake ever made or tasted. So good I made another one same day!
At the top of my cake recipes.

AuroraLondon's picture

Wow, now I know why this has so many fab reviews (and obviously the reason I chose it!), it was stunning. So moist and delicious. We had one very happy chocoholic birthday boy and will certainly have this as my go to birthday cake recipe again. I did half and half, dark and milk choc as suggested in the comments for both the sponge and ganache and I'm glad I did otherwise, I think it would have been too bitter.

alimealor's picture
5

This cake/pudding is delicious - eaten cold but equally delicious warmed in the microwave and serve with vanilla ice-cream.

I divided the mixture into 2 cake tins to cook and just kept an eye - turning temp down towards the end to ensure cooked but not too crispy on top. Think it took about 45mins.

orlow's picture

Interested to hear that you heated it up. Did the chocolate covering not just melt and run all over the place?

Mandyjane100's picture

Please help!! Just made this cake and although the flavour is delicious, the cake is very crumbly, especially when cutting. I baked in two tins and wondered if I overlooked them??

DellienotDelia's picture
5

This is THE best chocolate cake ever - and believe me, I have tried a lot! I make this often and get so many compliments and requests for the recipe.

rachelpeapod's picture

I read a lot of reviews before making this cake, and I really wanted it to work. Sad to say, it didn't.
I'm assuming it is 'baker error' rather than the recipe, given the number of good reviews, but the cake came out flat as a pancake with a chewy, almost burnt-tasting ring around the outer top, and the top in the middle was hard as a rock. God knows what I did!!!

littlejones's picture
3.75

This is a great recipe and I will definitely make it again. As others had recommended using half milk chocolate and half dark, I did this for both the cake and the ganache. I'm always nervous about splitting cakes after baking, so I just baked it in two tins for 45 minutes. They came out perfectly, cooked through but very moist. The ganache was a bit runny so I ended up with a chocolate moat around the cake but that seems like a bonus, to be honest. I didn't bother with the chocolate curls, but instead decorated the top with silver chocolate pearls. It is very sweet and rich so I couldn't eat a lot of it personally but I found the cake and ganache both very tasty and easy to make. Highly recommended!

katypurs's picture

This recipe is fantastic. Easy to make, looks professional, tastes phenomenal and lasts for days (if you don't cut into it straight away). I made this for my friend's 30th birthday and I will be making it again.

P.s. I watched Martha Stewart's video on making chocolate curls and they came out perfectly too.

marzipanlimpet's picture
5

I made this for a birthday without the ganache (wanted to play around with a white chocolate mirror glacage. And it didn't work. So that was a waste of time) and it was phenomenally good. Strangely a friend of mine who is a far superior baker to me used the same recipe and it tasted awful. No idea why.

I don't think I used buttermilk for this, I think I just mixed milk with lemon juice according to the ratios on Nigella's website.

hakunamatatayum's picture
5

Best chocolate cake I've ever had. Everyone enjoyed it, lots of great comments, deliciously moist. As brilliantly suggested by others, I used half milk and half dark chocolate for both the cake and ganache, and baked it in 2 tins and cooked for 45 minutes. After cake was ganached and refrigerated, I decorated it with fondant (for a birthday), which stuck well to the ganache and the taste wasn't too overwhelming. This is now my no. 1 cake recipe!

Cathiekook's picture
5

This is a brilliant recipe. The only changes I make are: use cheap plain chocolate and use drinking chocolate instead of coffee (kids don't like coffee flavour). I also make the ganache with milk chocolate which makes it more kid friendly and put white chocolate shavings over. This cake is so moist and keeps for days but never lasts that long.

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Questions (76)

isabellewsh's picture

Hello, I made this cake two times and both times the cake came out fudgy- brownie texture. My sister uses the same recipe and hers come out light and spongy and it bakes in only 40 mins whereas mine takes 1hr30 mins..i would like to know what kind of cake this is suppose to be a fudgy type or light spongy,?,please help! thanks ..

goodfoodteam's picture

We would describe this cake as moist dense and chocolaty. It is one of our most popular cake recipes, especially good for birthdays.

Evikk's picture

I made this recipe last night and everything looked promising as Ifollowed the recipes to the tee. I opened the oven, checked the cake, it was tall and perfect and then let the cake cool in the oven with the door open. When checking thia morning the cake is as tall as a brownie, very dense and there is no way I can cut it into 2 let alone 3 slices. Where did I go wrong?? I didnt have buttermilk so i substituted with a milk and natural yog mixture that i checked online. Its for a birthday so was looking forward to a nice big celebration cake...this is a brownie!!! Help!

terrilouise74's picture

Hi can you tell me if salted or unsalted butter was used for this cake please?

goodfoodteam's picture

We used salted butter for this recipe.

 

Superjo30's picture

I am going to make this cake on Friday for a friend's birthday the following day and have a couple of questions -
1) I'll be using a 23cm spring form tin (8cm deep) - will I need to adjust the recipe or is it OK to use the same measurements?
2) I'm planning to refrigerate the cake Fri night and add the ganache Saturday morning - when I do this, should I allow the ganache to cool slightly before adding between the layers and on top?

goodfoodteam's picture

Hi Superjo30, sorry we weren't able to help with your query earlier. If you decide to make this recipe again in that size you can use the same quantity of cake mixture in the larger tin,  it won't be that deep for splitting into three, or look as impressive, however you could just cut it in half. For a deeper cake you could increase the quantities by a quarter. For example use 250g instead of 200g, 110g instead of 85g, 30g instead of 25g for the cocoa and a dash more coffee in the same amount of water. For the wet ingredients add 4 medium eggs and 100ml buttermilk. The consistency you are after should be quite runny so adjust if necessary before pouring into the tin with a little more buttermilk or water if you think the mixture seems a little too firm. Bake for 1 hour 40 mins then check. You will have to use your judgement as we haven't tested baking the cake with these quantities, but add 5-10 mins at a time according to how cooked it is until firm and a skewer comes out clean. For the ganache use 300g chocolate with 350ml double cream and 2 rounded tbsp sugar. There is no need to refrigerate the cake overnight, just follow the recipe from step 4.

woody3240's picture

I am going to make an ultimate chocolate cake the recipe calls for a 20cm x7.5cm cake tin I want to cook in 8" x 2" cake tins how do I adjust the cooking time

ChelseaBakes's picture

The centre top of my cake has risen a large amount, and has detached itself to the actual cake. Why has this happened? I followed the method correctly.

krcmckay1's picture

Hi! Want to make this cake for a friend but she doesn't really like coffee. Does it taste of coffee or only of chocolate?

lglondon's picture

Hi, I've just made this cake for my son's birthday, I'm waiting for it to cool but am worried about making the ganache correctly. Someone pointed out that he followed the recipe exactly and just poured the ganache over the cake after cooling it down....am I supposed to whip it or something first to make it very thick.... I don't want to ruin it as it's looking ok at the moment.

Rachel80's picture

I love this cake but it always cracks and sinks in the middle. I'm. It opening the door, knocking it ect but it keeps happening. Is there any way I can stop this from happening? Many thanks

rfree90's picture

Hi! My friend loves this cake and I'm planning on doing it for her wedding with alternating vanilla sponge but it is a very light cake so I am worried it won't be able to hold up the layers (I'm hoping for 5 tiers). Just wondering whether it's possible to try and stop it rising and bubbling so much - should I try without the bicarb? Or more plain flour than self-raising? Thanks

goodfoodteam's picture

Hi rfree90, thanks for getting in touch. If you leave out the raising agents the cake could be very heavy indeed, however if you put cake rods or drinking straws into the cake once baked and iced, cut them so they are just about 1/2cm taller than the cakes they might help to support the layers above. Hope all goes well. 

lucybella's picture

Please can anyone help. I have made this cake several times and everyone loves it.
ineed to make some cupcakes tomorrow does anyone think that e would be ok for thisand if not can anyone recommend a really moist chocolate cupcake recipeany thoughts of the easy chocolate cake recipefor the cupcakeswould appreciate anyone getting back to me as it's quite urgent many thanks for your time

Adnan khan's picture

Hello Sir/Mam,
It was really to aswm cake and even yummy to.But sir/mam i have one question can i use any other chocolate and ice-cream?
Chocolate Cake Recipe

goodfoodteam's picture

Hi Adnan khan, thanks for getting in touch. You could use milk chocolate for this recipe if you wanted to but it won't have the same rich chocolatey flavour. Also, absolutely fine to serve with ice cream, why not! 

surreal6's picture

If I don't want to use the coffee, do I still need to include the water?

goodfoodteam's picture

Hi surreal6, thanks for getting in touch. Yes, please do include the water if you don't want to use the coffee. If you do decide to use the coffee though, the flavour doesn't stand out like in a coffee cake, it's just there to enhance the flavour of the chocolate. Hope this helps. 

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Tips (12)

mathscafe.net's picture
5

I never have buttermilk and use a 1/2 greek yogurt and 1/2 milk mix.

This cake is incredible!

Gill2015's picture
5

I made this for my niece's engagement party and it went down a storm with many requests for the recipe! Comfortably serves 20 as it's very rich.

gilllegge's picture
5

Warm a slice in the microwave for a few seconds - lush!

Michelle172's picture

How To Make Chocolate Cake – Pointers To Consider

Once you have mastered the art of baking and know how to make chocolate cake, there are few things you need to take into account. For example some people are vegetarians and do not eat eggs, so you will need to prepare Eggless cakes for them. Many people even don’t like having sour cream or butter. So what you can do is have some substitutes in place of the eggs like rice flour. However if you use rice floor, be prepared for the cake batter to remain thin. The other thing is to make sure that the cake recipe is followed properly and the teaspoonful or tablespoonfuls of the ingredients are taken in the right amount. So now that you have some idea of how to make chocolate cake, wow your friends with your baking prowess!

info taken from: http://www.howtomakechocolatecake.org/make-chocolate-cake-cool-tips/

thiternik's picture
5

I baked this for my brother's birthday the other day. Everyone was thrilled by it!
I should say I changed couple of things.
- Good I had my eye on and took it out of the oven after 1 hour, otherwise it would have been a burned mess, even after just 1hr I noticed dry edge, but that was ok and fixable.

- I used 6 tbsp of milk instead of buttermilk.

- I don't know how it is possible to cut to 3 layers, I just made 2 layers. It was a bit flaky to be cut to 3 layers.

- For the filling I used 200gr whipped cream mixed with part of dark melted chocolate. sprinkled with chopped walnut and hazelnut inside and out.

- Unfortunately there was no brown sugar, so I used regular. For my taste it was a bit too much, next tie will use half or 3/4 portion.

- I used 70% dark chocolate which somehow gave a feeling of alcohol in it, but there was none.

way to go recipe, everyone loved-loved it!
it tastes even better the next day, well if any piece is left. for us tehre was just a tiny piece for the morning

Marvahlee's picture

be patient with this if your in a hurry and need it in hour or so then dont bother try to do it the night before or as i did in the morning as didnt need till evening but it is worth the wait

3Lllama's picture

The result was very light and fragile. If you're going to use a filling, I'd suggest the sandwich method rather than cutting it horizontally. I replaced part of the chocolate with After Eights to give a mint flavour. Worked well. Gave a big chocolaty hit and nice moistness.

hboyle's picture

For an extra special & fun topping try covering the top with the contents of your favourite box of chocolates or chocolate treats. Use a little ganache to help them stay in place :)

missburns's picture
5

This cake works just as well using cadbury's chocolate. I've also used this recipe and made it into muffins. Don't fill the cases more than 3/4 full as they will overflow. I baked them at 140c for 50 mins. Don't check before 40 mins otherwise they will sink. These turned out delicious! The texture is like a really soft brownie (not gooey, just right!) and the top is lovely and chewy. No need for a ganache topping as it's perfect as it is! I think this is the best chocolate cake I've ever come across. If you want a more spongey texture then put 200g of self-raising flour and 200g of plain flour in instead of 85g of each. Only tried this in a cake tin but it turned out to be a real winner.

LittleMissK's picture

Hi @missburns,

Hope you see this post soon. Do I have to adjust the other ingredients when I change the flour quantity? I was thinking of trying with 125g each as I want a more spongey but still very rich texture, would that work?

I'm still an amateur at baking. Thanks in advance! :)

jaysterhowl's picture

This cake is great but make sure you use nice chocolate. Some quality, high-cocoa chocolate has a very strong, distinctive flavour (especially single origin chocolate), and this gives all the flavour to the cake so may not be to everyone's taste. Lidl do 66% dark chocolate that is perfect for this recipe.