Easy chocolate cake

This is my go-to chocolate cake that is guaranteed to make my chocoholic family very happy indeed. Leave out the chocolate elements and switch the sugar to caster and you pretty much have my standard vanilla cake recipe, and it’s the same recipe that’s been in my head since I was a child. Back then we measured weight in ounces and it was a standard 6-6-6-3 recipe (6oz each butter, sugar, flour + 3 eggs), but now I’m all grown up and use grams although I’m not sure why because the numbers aren’t so easy to remember! This cake keeps really well, in fact if you store it in an airtight container then it’ll taste even better (read, fudgier) the day after you’ve made it. Yes indeed I really love this cake, however I still can’t work out if it’s totally excellent or just plain dangerous to be able to make a cake without needing a recipe. Probably it’s both.



190g unsalted butter (I use stork)

190g light brown sugar

3 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla paste or extract

150g self raising flour

40g cocoa powder

Pinch of salt

0.5 tsp baking powder

A good slurp of milk


150g unsalted butter (softened)

300g icing sugar

3 tbsp cocoa powder

Slurp of milk


  1. Heat oven to 170C Fan and grease the base and sides of two 20cm (ish) springform tins – line the base with baking paper.
  2. Use a freestanding mixer, electric handheld whisk, or if you’re particularly strong a wooden spoon to beat together the butter and sugar for a good few minutes until they’re much paler in colour and all fluffy.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time until well combined, followed by the vanilla paste or extract. If you’re worried about the mixture splitting then pop a spoonful of the SR flour in with each egg.
  4. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder, then use a spatular to gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet.
  5. Add in about 2 tbsp milk and stir gently to combine – the mix should drop off your spatula with a little hesitancy, so add more milk if you need to.
  6. Scrape evenly into the two tins, level off the tops, and bake for around 18-20 minutes – when ready you should be able to press the tops lightly and the sponges will bounce back.
  7. Leave to cool in their tins for 10 minutes then turn out, gently remove the greaseproof paper, and leave to cool completely.
  8. While that’s happening, beat the butter in a bowl until it’s really soft and has started to become paler. Sift in around a third of the icing sugar then use a spatular or wooden spoon to gently start to mix them together. Only when combined fully should you let rip and really work the two together or you’ll end up standing in a cloud of icing sugar.
  9. Repeat two more times with the icing sugar, then sieve in the cocoa powder, mix that in, then add in a tablespoon of milk and start to beat the whole lot together. If I was you I’d switch to either a handheld electric whisk or freestanding mixer now, and keep on beating until the icing is super soft and fully.
  10. When the sponges are completely cold, smudge a little icing onto your cake stand or plate and pop a sponge on top (that’ll stop it from sliding around).
  11. Smooth on half of the icing, then layer on the second sponge and the rest of the icing.
  12. Decorate with a little grated chocolate (milk or plain, the choice is yours!) and tuck in.

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