chocolate cake with berries on top and on a cake stand with chocolate shavings

There’s nothing better than tucking into a good old slice of classic chocolate cake for a special occasion.

Growing up, chocolate cakes were saved for birthdays and treats, and I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I still get excited if there is a slice on offer.

However, the world of chocolate cake recipes is a vast and often confusing place – damp nutty chocolate cakes, slightly gooey fudgy ones, flourless cakes that are rich and moist but dip a little in the middle… So many types and so much choice, when often I just want a classic sponge recipe, to pimp up with chocolate buttercream and anything else I fancy.

I’ve teamed this chocolate cake up with a classic chocolate buttercream, but it is equally perfect with a lightly sweetened whipped cream and fruit centre (think Victoria sandwich chocolate-style). Not too rich, not too moist, this is a light but still flavoursome perfect afternoon tea sponge, reminiscent of party cakes gone by. Enjoy! 


Serves 16

250g plain flour
125g cocoa powder
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ¼ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
425g unsalted butter, at room temperature
350g golden caster sugar
2 large free-range eggs
1 tablespoon good quality vanilla extract
250ml freshly brewed coffee
225ml milk
75g dark chocolate
400g icing sugar
4 tablespoons of milk
100g fresh berries

  1. Preheat your oven to 180ºC/350F/gas 4. Grease 2 x 9” sandwich tins and line the bases.
    Chocolate cake recipe
  2. In a bowl, mix together the flour, 75g of the cocoa, the baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and 1 teaspoon of fine salt and whisk it all together. Keep to one side.
    Chocolate cake recipe
  3. Cut 125g of the butter into chunks and place into the bowl of a free standing mixer with a paddle attachment (alternatively, you can use an electric hand whisk and a large mixing bowl). Beat for a couple of minutes until creamy.
    Chocolate cake recipe
  4. Add the sugar and beat for a few more minutes until pale. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then add ½ a tablespoon of the vanilla; scraping the mixture off the sides and bottom.
    Chocolate cake recipe
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl, along with the freshly brewed coffee and milk, and mix slowly until it all comes together.
    Chocolate cake recipe
  6. Beat vigorously for a further minute, then divide the batter between the two cake tins. Place them in the middle of the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until cooked through. When they are ready, leave the cakes to cool in their tins for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
    Chocolate cake recipe
  7. Cut the remaining butter into chunks and place into the bowl of your free standing mixer with a paddle attachment (again, you can use an electric hand whisk and a large mixing bowl instead). Beat on a high speed for 2 minutes until creamy, then sift in the remaining 50g of cocoa and half the icing sugar. Add 2 tablespoons of the milk and beat again for 1 minute.
    Chocolate cake recipe
  8. Sift in the remaining icing sugar, and add the remaining milk and ½ a tablespoon of vanilla extract, then beat everything on a high speed for a couple of minutes until super smooth.
    Chocolate cake recipe
  9. Use a little buttercream to stick one of the sponges onto your chosen cake stand or board. Spoon on a third of the buttercream and spread it out to the edges of the cake, then top with the second sponge.
    Chocolate cake recipe
  10. Spoon on most of the remaining buttercream (reserving a few spoonfuls for piping on top) and gently spread it over the top of the cake and down the sides, until the entire cake is covered. Alternatively, you can use a little less buttercream and keep the edges open.
    Chocolate cake recipe
  11. Decorate with the fresh berries and shavings of quality chocolate over the top, if you like.
    Chocolate cake recipe

Tip: As with most chocolate sponge recipes, it’s best not to make the sponge too far in advance – a day before, or even on the day, is ideal. If you haven’t got much time, you can try freezing your sponges. Simply individually wrap the cooled sponges thoroughly in a couple of layers of clingfilm, then wrap them well in foil. Pop them in the freezer for up to a few weeks and defrost completely before decorating.

Chocolate cake recipe

You could also pimp your cake with different fillings, such as sea salted caramel. For more bakes that embrace the wonderful ingredient cocoa, check out our chocolate cake gallery or this delicious red velvet cake recipe.

About the author

Georgina Hayden

Georgina is a cook, food writer and stylist from North London and has worked as part of Jamie Oliver’s food team for almost ten years. She writes, develops and styles for magazine features, books, television projects and campaigns.Georgina’s work is inspired by her visual eye and her love of travel. Be it sourcing props at flea markets, travelling the world for street-food, or cycling round London with her camera in tow.

Georgina Hayden