Thursday, December 8, 2011

Chocolate Birthday Cake

This is the most delicious chocolate cake you could ever  possibly imagine. It's sooooo rich and tastes so good. I made it for the first time last year for my brother-in-law's birthday, and it was such a hit that I've made it for nearly every special person's birthday since then!

As it was my lovely sister's  birthday last week I thought I'd make it for her, she appreciates chocolate. And yes, I did give her the lovely skirt as a present - but really that was me inflicting my homemade fashion experiments on her, so I  also had to give her something I knew she'd like. And chocolate cake works every time.

This cake is made up of two layers of 20cm (8-inch) chocolate sponge cake with chocolate buttercream icing in between and on top. It's similar to the lemon layer cake I recently made, except its chocolate. Obviously. And you'll be glad to know since then I bought the right size tins so this cake turned out  impressively high compared to the flat lemon cake.

So, if you love someone who loves chocolate you should so bake them this cake!


  • 230g good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
  • 170g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 350g light soft brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs (free range or organic, separated)
  • 370g plain flour (sifted)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 500ml semi-skimmed milk (at room temperature)
  • 2 teaspoons good-quality vanilla extract

To decorate

  • 1 batch of Chocolate Buttercream Icing
  • Sugar decorations
  • I also  used Dr. Oetker writing icing tubes


  • Preheat the oven to 170C (fan)/190C/375F/gas mark 5
  • Grease and line two 20cm cake tins with greaseproof paper

  • Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water
  • Stir occasionally until completely melted
  • Set the bowl aside to cool
  • In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is pale and smooth, which should take 3-5 minutes using an electric hand mixer
  • Put the egg yolks in a seperate bowl and beat them for several minutes
  • Slowly add the egg yolks to the creamed butter and sugar and beat well
  • Add the cooled chocolate to this mixture and again beat well
  • Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a separate bowl
  • Combine the milk and vanilla extract in a jug
  • Add one-third of the flour to the creamed mixture and beat well
  • Pour in one-third of the milk and beat again
  • Repeat these steps until all the flour and milk have been added
  • In a clean bowl whisk the egg whites, with clean beaters, until soft peaks start to form
  • Carefully fold the egg whites into the main batter using a metal spoon (Do not beat or you will take all the air out of the mixture!)
  • Divide the mixture evenly between the tins and bake for about 30 minutes
  • Insert a skewer in the centre of one of the cakes - it should come out clean if it is cooked (I had to leave mine in for about 10 extra minutes, it seemed to take ages, it may just be that I have a dodgy oven, I'm not sure, but you migh have to leave yours in longer too.)

  • Remove from oven (eventually!) and leave the cakes in their tins for 10 minutes before turning out on to a wire rack to cool
  • Peel the greaseproof from the bases of the cakes
  • Once they are cool, sandwich the layers together with the chocolate buttercream icing and cover the top of the cake with more

Now the Buttercream Icing...

  • 175g good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
  • 225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon semi skimmed milk (at room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon good-quality vanilla extract
  • 250g icing sugar
  • Melt the chocolate in a heatproof glass bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water
  • Stir occasionally until it has completely melted and is quite smooth
  • Leave to cool slightly 
  • In a large mixing bowl beat the butter, milk, vanilla and icing sugar until smooth - this can take several minutes with an electric hand mixer
  • Add the melted chocolate  and beat again until thick and creamy 
In case you were wondering, I don't have exceptionally small hands - these belong to my little nephew!

  • If it looks too runny, simply keep beating as this will thicken the icing and improve its consistency 
  • Decorate with whatever you like, preferably edible things.

My little nephew helped me with the decorating of this cake since it was for his mammy. Initially he wasn't that bothered, while I was busy trying to get the icing nice and even he told me he was bored. I usually give him my iPhone to play with in such circumstances. We recently discovered how to get free car racing apps, so I'd normally let him play with them. That was until one evening after a day of auntie-nephew bonding,  I got an email with a lovely invoice from iTunes thanking me for my purchases of a load of random car racing games. I almost died of shock. I instantly thought someone hacked my account. When I eventually made the connection, I couldn't believe he was actually able to buy something from the app store. Firstly: because  I still haven't figured out how to buy an app and Secondly: he's only four years old and can't even read! I came to the conclusion he's obviously just a little technical genius. And while I think that's wonderful and I'm quite proud, I decided I wouldn't be giving him my phone anymore. I'm afraid of what else he might charge to my card.

Anyway, I suggested that he draw me a picture while I finished off frosting the cake. And here is a warning for anybody looking after a 4 year old. If you give them a pen to draw with, be sure to give them paper too. I forgot that bit and here is the lovely picture my precious little Godson drew for me.

In ballpoint pen
On our leather sofa

I quickly got him back to work on the cake. I think he did a good job. Although I realised I'm a bit of a control freak when it comes to decorating my cakes, as I  found it extremely hard to watch him press and shove the sugar decorations into the cake instead of delicately placing them on top like I explained!  He wasn't impressed that we were decorating the cake in pink so maybe it was pay back. He also insisted on adding a racing car candle to man it up a bit. Nice. 

So after the eventful making of the cake it was all worth it when I actually got to eat a slice. It's chocolate heaven!

If you have a recipe that you think can beat this please share it!

And if you know how to get ballpoint pen off leather please leave a comment below. Thank you :-)

And by the way, the baked sponge can be wrapped in clingfilm before icing and will keep at room temperature  for up to 3 days or you can freeze them, wrapped, and defrost when needed.
So say the ladies from the book!


  1. ballpoint pen on leather is difficult...give hairspray a go. It really all depends on how quickly you can get to the stain (sooner the better).
    That looks like a fine cake. So happy to have met you Clare (love that name!)

  2. Thank you Jacqueline, nice to have met you too. I will definitely give hairspray a go and see what what happens :-)

  3. I just made chocolate cake for my hubby's birthday. Isn't it delicious? I have 6 kids and a leather sofa. I've been able to get some ink marks off with leather cleaner I bought at Costco. No guarantees though :)

  4. Thanks Marcia, i'll try get hold of some leather cleaner! Mmm chocolate cake really is the best! :-)

  5. Wow, that really does look ultra chocolately!

    Have bookmarked that for the next birthday (I think I'll need a bit of a break from sweet things after Christmas though...)

  6. Ooh yeah, me too. I think I'll focus on making lovely healthy things in January!!