Ultimate chocolate cake topped with chocolate curls served on a white plate

Ultimate chocolate cake

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(1038 ratings)

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


14 slices

Indulge yourself with this heavenly chocolate cake recipe that is beautifully moist, rich and fudgy. Perfect for a celebration or an afternoon tea

Nutrition and extra info

  • Without icing

Nutrition: Per serving

  • kcal541
  • fat35g
  • saturates20g
  • carbs55g
  • sugars40g
  • fibre2g
  • protein6g
  • salt0.51g
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    For the chocolate cake

    • 200g dark chocolate (about 60% cocoa solids), chopped
      Dark chocolate soup pots with double cream in spoons

      Dark chocolate

      dahk chok-lit

      Dark chocolate means the shiny, dark-reddish brown treat produced from the cacao bean, theobroma…

    • 200g butter, cubed



      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 eggs
    • 75ml buttermilk
      Buttermilk pancake mixture in bowl with whisk



      There are two types of buttermilk. Traditional buttermilk is a thin, cloudy, slightly tart but…

    • grated chocolate or curls, to decorate



      Chocolate as we know it in pressed

    For the ganache

    • 200g dark chocolate (about 60% cocoa solids), chopped
      Dark chocolate soup pots with double cream in spoons

      Dark chocolate

      dahk chok-lit

      Dark chocolate means the shiny, dark-reddish brown treat produced from the cacao bean, theobroma…

    • 300ml double cream
    • 2 tbsp golden caster sugar


    1. Heat the oven to 160C/fan140C/gas 3. Butter and line a 20cm round cake tin (7.5cm deep).

    2. Put the dark chocolate in a medium pan with the butter. 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 for about 5 minutes, stirring halfway through.

    3. Mix the self-raising flour, plain flour, bicarbonate of soda, light muscovado sugar and golden caster sugar with the cocoa powder and squash out any lumps. Beat the eggs with the buttermilk.

    4. Pour the melted chocolate mixture and the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir everything to a smooth, quite runny consistency.

    5. Pour this into the tin and bake for 1hr 25 – 1hr 30 mins. If you push a skewer into 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. Cut the cold cake horizontally into three.

    6. To make the ganache, put the dark chocolate in a bowl.  Pour the cream into a pan, add the 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. Cool until it is a little thicker but still pourable.

    7. Sandwich the layers together with just a little of the ganache. Pour the rest over the cake letting it fall down the sides and smooth over any gaps 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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    4th Feb, 2018
    This is a 5 star ++++ cake. Just the best. It's a pleasure to make and a joy to eat.
    28th Jan, 2018
    I've made this lots of times, still the best chocolate cake recipe out there. I keep it simple and just cut in half. Rich and gloriously moreish. You won't go wrong with this one.
    27th Jan, 2018
    I have made this several times and it is delicious. I found it really tricky cutting the cake horizontally into 3, I have since cut it into 2 which is easier and the end result neater. I also found that there was too much ganache I halved this which was perfect when cutting into 2 layers. I replaced the chocolate curls with broken up Flake which looks fantastic and suits those who prefer milk chocolate. I don't buy buttermilk and replaced with a cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of malt vinegar.
    15th Jan, 2018
    Disappointed with this 'cake' as it was actually a brownie. Would be good if this was stated at the beginning of the recipe.
    13th Jan, 2018
    Made this for the first time 2 days ago for a colleagues leaving party- was declared the best chocolate cake ever! I followed the recipe exactly apart from the added sugar in the ganache, I also used warmed milk with a splash of lemon instead of buttermilk because I didn’t have any. Very delicious and very easy- my 7yr old did most of it.... making another for Home now!
    Julia Baverstock's picture
    Julia Baverstock
    7th Jan, 2018
    I made this cake for the first time as a birthday cake for my other half. I was worried when it came out of the oven looking like a top hat! The top seemed quite dry. However after trimming to make it flat I cut It in half... it was too crumbly to cut into three.... and sandwiched with the ganache which seemed quite runny and then decorated with maltesers and chocolate fingers. I needn't have worried this cake is amazing! Very moist much more like a large brownie to be honest and the panache did set....my other half and family loved it! I will definitely be making again.
    28th Dec, 2017
    Made this as a Christmas dessert alternative. A really easy and fool proof recipe - by fool proof, I mean I had put it in the oven when I realised I had forgotten to add the butter. I had melted the chocolate with the water and coffee and omitted to add the butter to the pan. I scooped it out of the tin and added the melted butter. The cake was still perfect and a huge hit. Making it again for New Year's Day!
    22nd Dec, 2017
    Made this cake for my sons birthday. Agree with other people that it is more of a giant brownie cake than a light a fluffy cake. I cooked as instructed but found that when it came to cutting in thirds I just couldn't see it happening. I cut it in half but still the top half broke apart. This wasn't a problem once the ganache was put on top. I omitted half of the sugar from the ganache, but would probably just use milk chocolate next time for a less dark chocolate bitter taste. Instead of curls I decorated with milk choc chips, chocolate stars, milky way stars and glitter. I will definately make this again.
    17th Dec, 2017
    This is my absolute go to cake and this year will be appropriately decorated as a Christmas cake. Easiest way to slice is to score gently round the circumference with a serrated knife and then pull dental floss ( non flavoured ) through the cake. Easy peasy.
    anca.lumei's picture
    6th Dec, 2017
    Worst part about the recipe is that they called it cake and set up wrong expectations. This is a sturdier brownie, that you can also slice and fill if you're so inclined and have the patience and skill to do it. At it's core, this is an easy-peasy brownie, that doesn't ask sugar and butter to be fluffed up, and flour to be gently folded in. You don't even need the pre-planning of taking butter out to soften to room temperature. It's as easy as making cake using a boxed mix. Tips: * 300g of total sugar in the cake is plenty * some American electric ovens refuse to go under 300F, so if you have one and use convection/fan, check on the cake earlier * sugar can be all white, but if you use some brown, make sure to sift the dried stuff and add any bigger sugar chunks to the melting chocolate so you don't end up with caramelized holes in the brownie * instant coffee + water can be 125ml of any watery liquid you want. This time I used a double espresso, diluted with Grand Marnier to make 125ml. Orange juice, rum, plain water, black tea, American coffee or anything similar would also work just as well. * if you don't plan on slicing and filling, a square brownie pan works perfectly for this * if you don't fill or cover it with ganache, keeping it in a tin/box out of the fridge is better


    Jo Templeton
    29th Jan, 2018
    I make this cake all the time in a 20 cm tin and always have fab results and so many great comments. I’ve decided to make my wedding cake using this recipe but really need a bit of guidance on cooking times for increased quantities of mixture in bigger tins. I’m going to be doing three tiers... a 6” a 10” and 14” tier. Would you advise reducing the oven temperature for the bigger version and cooking it for longer? Any help greatly appreciated!!
    goodfoodteam's picture
    6th Feb, 2018
    Thank you for your question. We would recommend keeping the oven at the same temperature but you will need to increase or decrease the cooking time depending on the relative size of the tin. Unfortunately we are unable to give specific timings without testing.
    4th Dec, 2017
    Hi, if I can't find buttermilk , can I replace it with yoghurt? Thanks, I really want to bake this cake, it looks fabulous!
    goodfoodteam's picture
    8th Dec, 2017
    Buttermilk is available in larger supermarkets in the dairy section. However if you don't have access to this then you can make your own, simply add a little under 1 tsp of lemon juice to 75ml full-fat milk and set aside for 10 mins. It will curdle into a thick mixture, then it's ready to use.
    16th Sep, 2017
    How do stop it from crumbling it's impossible to handle just falls apart.Finished with a crumbling mess.
    goodfoodteam's picture
    17th Sep, 2017
    We're sorry to hear your cake didn't turn out well. It's hard to know what happened here. It's essential to weigh all the ingredients using good scales, to make sure the cake is fully cooked according to step 5 and to leave the cake in the tin to cool down. If you take the cake out of the tin too soon, it may not be firm enough and can crumble. Hope this helps if you decide to try it again.
    Jumanas Cakes M...
    14th Sep, 2017
    Thank you Angela love this recipe. Taste is awesome and it's easy to make. My question is if cake doesn't come out perfectly round and straight on the sides. It shrinks from the top. Is there anything I can do to keep it in shape? Because when I sandwich two I then have to trim sides. Thanks...
    goodfoodteam's picture
    17th Sep, 2017
    If you want a straighter appearance, you can flip the top layer over so that the bottom of the cake is the top. Fill in the gaps with the icing. Hope that helps!
    Seren star's picture
    Seren star
    27th Aug, 2017
    Can I add vanilla extract
    goodfoodteam's picture
    28th Aug, 2017
    Thanks for your question. Yes, you could add vanilla extract, although we have found the coffee brings out the flavour of the chocolate very well.


    16th Sep, 2017
    Don't make it
    8th Oct, 2016
    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.
    15th Jun, 2016
    I never have buttermilk and use a 1/2 greek yogurt and 1/2 milk mix. This cake is incredible!
    27th Sep, 2015
    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.
    26th Mar, 2015
    Warm a slice in the microwave for a few seconds - lush!
    1st Dec, 2014
    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/
    19th Oct, 2014
    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
    2nd Oct, 2014
    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
    27th Jun, 2014
    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.
    11th May, 2014
    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 :)