Ultimate chocolate cake

Ultimate chocolate cake

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(977 ratings)

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


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


  • kcal541
  • fat35g
  • saturates20g
  • carbs55g
  • sugars40g
  • fibre2g
  • protein6g
  • salt0.51g
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  • 200g good quality dark chocolate, about 60% cocoa solids
  • 200g butter



    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


  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 (1459)

Susselady's picture

Don't understand the high ratings. Had to cook it for about 50'mins longer than recipe states as it was still raw. Once cooled cake tastes really claggy and surprisingly not very chocolatey.

IrinaP's picture

It is the best cake recipe! Made it twice now; second time I added a little bit of orange extract into the ganache and it lifted it even more. Easy and simply devine.

Emmafinney7125's picture

This recipe is perfect. I cook mine in a tray bake tin at 140C for 40/45 minutes and it comes out perfectly moist. Do leave it to cool completely. I also add grated orange Zest to the Ganache for a delicious chocolate orange twist.

TripleK's picture

Left out the butter and buttermilk and replaced with rapeseed oil and soya milk to make it dairy-free. Turned out fine without the ganache but cake did require extra 15 mins in the oven. Also used half the amount of sugar to get the balance between bitterness and sweetness - perfect for an adults only cake, would have been way to sweet otherwise.

francescaplows's picture

Made this and it definitely didn't look as pretty but it was very tasty! Not sure I'd do it one tin as when I cut it in half (as it wouldn't have been able to be cut in 3!) it collapsed. Not sure what I did wrong really... Still recommend for the taste and I will try again due to all the good reviews!

Frantic Flapjack's picture

I made this for a Great British Bakeoff final party. I would say it's probably the best chocolate cake recipe I have tried. Highly recommended.

go4itdoug's picture

I make this cake for my son's birthday each year, I make 1.5 times the recpie quantities so there is plenty to go around but you must keep an eye on the cooking time. Best results i've had were using a round, deep cake tray with a centre hole that makes the cake doughnut shaped and helps it to cook the large batter quantity evenly. I always make a fresh raspberry sauce to go in between the layers as it adds a nice sharp, acid contrast to the thick gooey chocolate taste. I lik to decorate the outside bottom with candies jeely fruits and the top with white chocolate stars. Stunning cake and absolutely delicious.............

Icooksometimes's picture

Dense, chocolately and sweet! I followed the recipe, apart from cooking it in two tins for just under 40 minutes on fan bake at 140. My oven tends to run quite hot so I watched the time carefully. I also didn't sweeten the ganache, and did a 1:1 ratio with the cream, so 200g chocolate and 200g cream. I decorated it with white chocolate ganache (1:3 cream:chocolate, leave to cool, beat to achieve white colour) and then had dark chocolate ganache on top and dripping down the sides, with a few truffles on top and some sprinkles. I made the ganache while the cake was in the oven so that it could have plenty of time in the fridge to set, and allowed the cakes to fully cool before icing them.

chapelapple's picture

Great cake! Although mine looking nothing like this! It tasted good. Mine turned out quite flat, I took some recommendations from here which I'm glad about, mix of dark and milk chocolate, left the ganache in the fridge for an hour before applying and half the quantity of sugar. However, I made some mistakes, I used one baking tin which meant the cake collapsed when I cut it in half. If I made it again I would only use milk chocolate maybe, large eggs, equal amounts of cream to chocolate. I would definitely make this again, hope it rises a bit more next time, it was delicious.

Truckerfocker smiles's picture

I made this cake today and it didn't only look great it tasted out of this world, to quote my daughter " oh my god".
I put in 1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp of baking powder
In between the layers I spread some chocolate butter icing and server up with sweet whipped cream 5 stars out of 5

SineadFC's picture

I made this yesterday and I'm mega impressed (which is not easy!). The sponge is squidgy and really moist like a brownie, I made it in two sandwich tins. As suggested by other posters I used 50/50 milk/dark for the icing, and it was just at my limit for chocolate flavour, next time I might hedge slightly more towards milk. I let the icing cool in the fridge for an hour and then it was perfect. This will now be my go-to chocolate cake recipe, I've never tasted better in any bakery or restaurant.

sandy2016's picture

Made this cake for a little gathering and everyone absolutely loved it!! It was my first time making a chocolate cake and it came out perfect! just the way I wanted it, all thanks to this lovely and very helpful recipe.

I made a few slight changes to the recipe:

I used baking powder instead of bicarbonate
I used 100 g of light muscovado and 100 of golden caster sugar
used a mixture of dark and milk chocolate

For the ganache, I used extra thick double cream to get a thick consistency.

leighbarker12's picture

it is easy to make and you mess up it ruin the whole thng I am a fan of this cake

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

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

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

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

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.


Questions (90)

miminh's picture

I just took my cake out of the oven and it had barely risen. I followed the recipe exactly and was hoping for a lovely fudgy cake, i then left it to cool and it shrunk even more. Could you help me?

goodfoodteam's picture

Hi there,

Sorry to hear your cake didn't work out as you'd hoped. If the texture was good but it was flat you may have used a tin that was too big. Otherwise, it would be down to the ingredients, it might be worth double checking all the ingredients were exactly as stated and included - the bicarb and self raising flour both contribute to the rise and the eggs hold the structure. The other issue may be that the oven wasn't hot enough. We hope one of these suggestions helps you get to the bottom of the problem. You can also take a look at our cake troubleshooting feature and Mary Berry's baking tips for more ideas.

licilou6's picture

if i use milk chocolate instead of dark but still the same amount for the cake and ganache would it make a difference?

goodfoodteam's picture

Thanks for your question, you could use milk chocolate but we would suggest sticking to the dark even if you don't usually like dark chocolate. Once it's been mixed with the other ingredients, the flavour becomes more subtle and works better in this instance.

tywyn100's picture

How much do I need for 26cm round tin and 22cm tin.... do I 2.5x the mix

goodfoodteam's picture

Thanks for your question. We have not tested this cake in larger tins but would agree 2 1/2 times the recipe would be sufficient. You may have a bit left over. Make sure you don't overfill the tins and you'll need to adjust the cooking times to ensure the cakes are properly cooked through. We cannot give you exact timings without testing it for ourselves. You'll need to keep an eye on them from 1 hr 30 mins onwards. You can do the cake test as mentioned above to check when they're done. Let us know how you get on.

Kernowbaker's picture

I have made this cake twice before and both times it tasted delicious. But each time Iade it the sponge didn't rise very much and so the cake looked quite flat. The second time I made it I adjusted the flour so that I used more self-raising flour to plain but this didn't seem to make much difference. Would it help to just use self-raising flour and add baking powder also? Thanks!

slee1956's picture

Has anyone used Stork instead of butter please?

licilou6's picture

yes it doesn't make a difference

slee1956's picture

Has anyone made this using Stork instead of butter? Hoping to make it for a friends big birthday but I don't have time to practice! Thanks

annieb1602's picture

I have made this cake a few times and its always turned out really well. Im just wondering if anybody as made this recipe into cupcakes, as I've been searching for awhile for a good moist cupcake recipe. Would be great for any help.

Nena Davila's picture

How can I make self rising flour for this cake, where I leave a small town in México, I can't find it.

goodfoodteam's picture

Hi Nena,

Thanks for your question. To make self-raising flour add one teaspoon baking powder to 110g of plain flour. Happy baking!

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 ..

Nena Davila's picture

do they leave in the same city? altitude can change the cake

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?


Tips (13)

Chocolatepig's picture

I made this as per recipe but put it in an 8.5" cake tin, which was only slightly larger than recommended. I checked it after 55 mins on 150 c in a conventional oven. Despite being on the lower shelf it was already beginning to over cook.
Please check your cake at about the hour mark. If I make it again I'll cover with grease proof paper at 45 mins. I rescued it by scraping the top very slightly and dousing with a generous helping of golden rum.
Ganache as per recipe. Gorgeous 'Jamacian' chocolate cake. Recommended.

mathscafe.net's picture

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

This cake is incredible!

Gill2015's picture

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

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

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

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.