There’s nothing better than tucking into a good old slice of classic chocolate cake for a special occasion. In this feature, Georgina Hayden from Jamie’s food team shares her favourite recipe.

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 cakes 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

11. Decorate with the fresh berries and shavings of quality chocolate over the top, if you like.

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.


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.


cake, chocolate


  • Goeliëta von Terossa

    Why does the recipe include both baking powder and bicarbonate of soda? What is the difference between them?

  • Melissa Casey Pazeian

    I love using almond extract in lieu of vanilla for a little bit of a different taste and it always gets complimented!

  • Sandy Duncan

    I’m wondering about beating vigorously for a minute, after adding the flour, as I understand this makes the cake tough. Can you please explain why you do this. Thanks.

  • I luv a good tart

    I was wondering about that too, most recipes tell you to fold in gently & not over mix.

  • I luv a good tart

    Baking powder is baking soda & an acid (usually cream of tartar) together. Baking powder is used when there is no other acid in the ingredients. I googled the answer & it also said they are sometimes used together because the baking soda neutralizes acid, but the baking powder adds an extra lift, to make the cake rise properly. There is other info on what happens if too much is put in as well. Happy googling!

  • Audrey Zeplant

    There is a part of the recepy I don’t understand, it says you have to add the Milk with the Coffee for the sponge cake, however it says for the préparation of the buttercream you have to add the rest of the Milk, how much Milk do I have to put in the buttercream ? Thank you

  • Martina Šedová Wimmerová

    I added the milk and the coffee and its watery. Should it be so?

  • Tiff Waters

    I bake ALOT! I followed this to plan but I think there is an error -225ml of milk and 250ml of brewed coffee – is almost 1/2 a litre of liquid – it was the consistency of a milk shake…not a cake batter…have improvised to rescue it with an extra egg, flour, cocoa, sugar and baking powder – probably going to bake a brick! The recipe is a bit tricky because the ingredients are not divided between cake batter and icing clearly…so for example you only add part of the cocoa to the cake batter and the rest in the icing…but when you add milk/coffee – it just says to add them not a portion of them? disappointed!

  • Abigail Cornelia

    agree with below comments. Very watery at the point it goes into the tins – but TRUST JAMIE HERE. It is tempting to ‘save’ the batter with flour, but JUST DON’T.

    Followed to the letter. It turned out beautifully – airy and rich. Almost always an impossibility.
    Baked it for 30 mins instead, as I was using 3 tins instead of 2.

    Hit with the whole office. A*

  • Abigail Cornelia

    The 4 tablespoons of milk at the bottom of the recipe : that’s for the icing

  • Julie Christina L

    I second this, I baked these exactly as it says in the recipe and the 2 cakes turned out fine in 35minutes. The consistency was like pudding when going into the tins, no need to add any more dry ingredients.
    Great recipe!

  • Tiffany Robinson

    I just made this cake and as noted in other comments it is extremely watery. I don’t think it is supposed to be because in the photo under step 8 it still looks quite thick. Because it was so watery and due to the fact that all of my cake tins have the sides removable, it means there is a tiny gap at the bottom of the tin, where my baking paper usually goes through. Despite having made runny batters before (I bake a lot) I have never had a leak. However in this case the cake mixture just poured out of tins in the oven resulting in the remaining mixture around the edges to just burn. A disappointment as up until then the cake mixture had seemed really yummy. I want to try this again but will half the liquids. I think even with that it will still be quite runny!

  • kate jackson

    This is a terribly written recipe! I read these comments AFTER I started or I might not have bothered.
    First – please could the quantities for the cake and the buttercream be separated out? This would save me trying to remove the required amount of cocoa from the flour after I had wrongly weighed them together.
    Plus – the butter – I had to do MATHS half way through to find out what the ‘remaining butter’ amount was.
    Also – surely that small amount of butter to sugar can’t be right? I didn’t get ‘cream’ I got sugary ‘sand’ – I added another 100g of butter
    As for the liquid – I reduced the milk – by just adding it until the batter looked ‘right’
    I think there are some genius elements to this cake – the big dollop of vanilla is lovely – the strong coffee works – but the clarity of its instructions means I won’t be making it again.
    Yes, it’s nice, but there are thousands of other chocolate cake recipes out there that would be easier to make.
    I’m sorry, but there it is.

  • Marilyn

    I simply mix the dry ingredients then add the wet ingredients. I melt the butter and add it to the mixture with kahlua instead of coffee. I use about half a cup of buttermilk instead of milk. No chocolate either. It turns out light and tasty.

  • Marilyn

    The bicarb gives a darker colour and also makes the cake light in texture.