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

Ultimate chocolate cake

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(1024 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
    • 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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    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
    3rd Dec, 2017
    I've just finished making this a second time and, without a doubt, it will be my go-to chocolate cake recipe! Although I found the second bake to be very crumbly/broken on top, you don't see a thing once it's flipped to decorate. Adjustments: - I choose to cut it horizontally only once (giving two layers) because I can't be bothered splitting the mix and a second cut would be too risky with my haphazard skills. - USE DARK CHOCOLATE for the cake itself, as I imagine it will be too sweet otherwise. Good quality chocolate is best because the flavour will come through. Milk chocolate for the ganache seems to be more popular with kids. - I reduce both sugar quantities to 180g. Substituting the Muscavado sugar with light brown sugar works fine.
    1st Dec, 2017
    This recipe is absolutely delicious every time I make it. It is easy, never fails to impress and is a bit of a go to cake for special occasions.
    18th Nov, 2017
    We followed the cake recipe to the letter but it was a bit of a disaster. The top layer was overdone and crumbled to pieces, even though we let it cool. When we tried to cut the lower layers, although not quite as bad, the 'structural integrity' of it was still a problem. The one thing we didn't follow to the letter was the chocolate ganache - using milk chocolate (my son's preference) rather than dark and reducing the double cream and sugar content to accommodate the milk chocolate. This worked perfectly and was probably the best bit of the cake. It was a bit disappointing after we'd been out shopping for all the ingredients and spent so long cooking it. On the up side, it tastes delicious!
    16th Nov, 2017
    Excellent cake that I've made twice now. I see some are baking in sandwich tins as they're worried about their cutting skills. To cut cakes I score all round with a knife then using the score line as a guide I use a piece of thread to cut the cake. Something like using a cheese wire but best to google it as difficult to explain. Always get lovely straight lines this way. I should say it's fragile for the first 12 hours and certainly doesn't need to be eaten fresh. It was better 3 days later as it got more squidgy.
    9th Nov, 2017
    Is this cake ok to be covered in sugarpaste?
    Sarah Johnson's picture
    Sarah Johnson
    11th Dec, 2017
    I made this cake yesterday and I would say that it is too soft for sugarpaste in my opinion.
    4th Nov, 2017
    Easy to bake for a novice. Thanks for all the reviewers tips. I did 2 tins at 45 mins. Yes one did split in half on removal but easily stuck back together. The tin I left longer with the base on (after removing ring) stayed together much better. The cake texture is like a brownie. I left the sugar out of the ganache and will reduce it in the cake mix next time.
    26th Oct, 2017
    This is possibly the best cake I have ever made - moist, rich, and not too sweet. Delicious. I made this for my mothers birthday and it went down a treat. The only changes that I made were to replace the light muscovado sugar with soft light brown sugar, and to bake it in three tins rather than one. I think this was a good idea as other commenters have said that it is hard to cut and I don't trust my cutting skills! In three tins it took 30 mins of baking so it's also better if you're in a rush! Will definitely be making this again


    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.
    21st Jul, 2017
    Hi, Can I reduce the amount of a sugar but keeping the other ingredients the same amount in this recipe? Thanks.
    goodfoodteam's picture
    31st Jul, 2017
    Unfortunately changing the quantities in cake recipes will affect the outcome so we would not recommend reducing the sugar. We have a low sugar chocolate cake recipe here which you could cover in ganache as an alternative: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/squidgy-chocolate-sandwich-cake


    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 :)