Ultimate chocolate cake

Ultimate chocolate cake

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(949 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, 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

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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.

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Comments (1428)

hakunamatatayum's picture

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

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.

clairesut57's picture

Lovely moist chocolate cake. I used half milk and half dark chocolate for both the cake and ganache as others had suggested and this worked perfectly. Was worried that using all dark chocolate would be too bitter. I split the mixture and cooked for 45 mins in 2 tins as I agree with others that it would have been tricky to split the cake once cooked. Baked for Easter Sunday family dinner and served with ice cream and seemed to be successful judging by all the clean bowls!

St georges's picture

I felt I needed to register to tell you how disappointed I was with the results of the ultimate chocolate cake. I used all the best ingredients and followed the recipe. I was making it for my daughters birthday. It was impossible to slice it in 3 pieces without it falling apart. I would not recommend it to anyone.

BakersTwelve's picture

I made this a the weekend. Thought it was lovely - really rich and moist. A little goes along way. I should have spread more ganache in the middle (I was unsure of how much I would need to cover the cake) therefore I had lots left over after covering the cake. The cake does take several hours to cool. I am going to make it as a birthday cake this Saturday - I shall bake the cake on Friday and then decorate on Saturday.

jwillis6's picture

Best chocolate cake recipe ever. I've made this on quite a few separate occasions for birthdays and office treats etc., and people never stop raving about how tasty it is. An absolute staple in my favourite recipes, Good Food never fails me!

suses22's picture

Lovely moist cake, worth the time and effort. I'm more of a savory cook, but this was an easy to follow recipe and video helped too

Will make again, although a tad too big for 2 of us, but shared with the neighbours :-)

JIngarfield's picture

As a regular user of BBC Good Food recipes, I specifically wanted a 'brownie like' chocolate fudge type cake...and this was perfect! Clearly, if you are after a light, airy end result, choose another recipe. But if you follow this recipe, I don't see why people have had problems. I bake a lot and its one of the best chocolate cake recipes i've tried. The only tweak was the second time I made this, I split the mixture between two cake tins and halved the bake time, as cutting my first attempt in half proved quite challenging (the top broke in half). The ganache recipe is perfect (again, if you follow it properly) and brought the whole cake together. Everyone raved about it...try won't be disappointed!

123RichBee's picture

I have made about three cakes in my life including this one. This is a very easy to follow recipe and fun to make, I got my boys involved in the mixing (and tasting). A lovely cake, very rich and moist and it went down a treat on my wife's birthday.

luce19's picture

Not very happy with this recipe. Followed it exactly. Took two hours to cook and then fell apart when trying to ice it. Also the icing was very strong, and didn't taste great at all. Wont be using this recipe again.

jbee's picture

So very disappointed with this cake.
After the massively high ratings I've never had such a disastrous sickly, heavy, wet cake. I had to throw it away....a terrible waste of expensive ingredients.
I followed the recipe stringently apart from the ganache which I did half milk/ half dark chocolate. But after hours of cooling at room temp, in the fridge and even in the freezer, the only way I could get it to come close to setting was to whip it. But that didn't help the fact that the cake was so heavy and stogy it wasn't edible. It was more like a chocolate torte. I also had to cook it for a lot longer but that might be my oven.

A wasted afternoon and ruined 40th birthday cake.
I'd rate this badly if I was able to but it's not giving me the option to...hhhm!

ellecoop's picture

Absolutely love this recipe. Made it so many times over the last 5 years and everyone loves it. My daughter calls it 'Death by Chocolate'

abbykelly's picture

I have made this cake 4 times in 4 weeks for various occasions. It is the best chocolate cake ever! I do half Dairy Milk, half dark choc for the cake and also half half for the ganache. The cake is so deliciously moist - definitely pudding-worthy - can serve on its own or with ice cream.
I cut my cake in half or three using a wire cake cutter (only £3.50 on ebay). The top cracks when in the oven so I coat with ganache and then decorate with chocolate curls so no one knows! I melt chocolate and then spread over the back of a baking tray (pre-chilled in freezer) and then wait for a bit to use a cheese slice over the chocolate to create curls/flakes. Experiment with the timing for the curls - you don't want to grate too early or too late! I also like to line both the bottom and the sides of the cake tin with baking parchment to ensure a clean edge for the ganache.
This cake is certainly not the quickest or easiest cake to make but it is SO WORTH IT!

Rosie2112's picture

I followed the recipe exactly as far as ingredients go but made the cake in a silicone bundt mould. It took about 90 minutes to bake & rose almost to the top of the mould but it turned out perfectly. I don't like cake filings or coverings as I find them too sickly so I just dusted my cake with a little bit of icing sugar and decorated it with some of those festive edible cake decorations. I made the cake yesterday and served it today. It is beautifully moist and very tasty....not too sweet either considering the amount of sugar that went into it. Definitely not good for the waistline but certainly a delicious treat.

trinaz's picture

This cake went completely wrong.
It was for my b'day and it sunk in the middle.. and when i poured the topping onto it ... the cake flopped and popped.. everywhere.
It tasted like cake so it was ok .. but it was the presentation .. AWFUL..! Not fit for a dog to see.
I was nearly in tears.. As i put so much effort into making this cake!!

nadia.andres's picture

This is cake is the favorive one for my family. I have been cooking it since 2012 every birthday of my doughter. It is not the easiest cake I have ever made, but It has a wonderful taste.Cake has a lot of cacao that I most like. I have just cooked it yesterday. And I had a big prolem with my cake. I should cuted the cake in tree pieces, but it wasn't possible because my knife clinged to cake. So I have cuted just in two pieces. And it cracked a little. I was stressed. After all I have done the birthday cake. But it was the last time I cooked it :)
Any way I know it is the unique cake that I really like to eat, and everybody enjoy this dessert :)

hpugsley's picture

Lovely cake, I increased the ingredients by half and make a spider cake for Halloween. Used the buttercream from the hedgehog cake, also on this site. Kids and adults all loved it.

gashlee's picture

This recipe is wonderful. I was really skeptical as it breaks a lot of my baking rules but it works really well, i didnt add the coffee as i dont like it and i couldnt find buttermilk and i couldnt believe i was adding water to melting chocolate but it worked and was really really nice, although didnt rise very well, need to sub plain flour for self raising!

minionj's picture

can you please help me by answering that for how long do I need to preheat the oven at 140C/convection????


Questions (75)

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 ..

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 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. 

illusive's picture

I have made this cake 3 times and it always overflows even when the tin is bigger? What do i do?


Tips (10)

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:

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.

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.

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