This is my second* favourite recipe for chocolate cake! It is 100% made from scratch, easy to make, and sensationally delicious. This a very popular chocolate layer cake recipe, a favourite for kids and grown ups alike. It's moist, deep, dark and delicious and I'll let you in on yet another trade secret we keep up our sleeves at Anges de Sucre...we add instant coffee granules to the batter to make it THAT much more chocolatey-er. It's a mega-hit with our customers ordering our chocolate cakes in London and we are frequently told it is the best chocolate cake they've ever had!
*keen to know the top most favourite? Find out below!
How to Make Chocolate Cake from Scratch
This chocolate cake is quick, easy and delicious. You don't need a stand mixer and it's all just in one bowl. You can use our trusted chocolate cake recipe for tall 6 inch layer cakes, or an 8 inch layer cake, or even as cupcakes. This recipe yields three 6 inch chocolate sponge layers, or two 8 inch sponge layers, or a dozen large muffin-sized cupcakes.
Chocolate Cake Ingredients
The ingredients for this cake are probably already in your cupboard! Nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, this chocolate cake recipe calls for cheaper ingredients making it more budget friendly than other recipes. The full recipe is below but allow me to explain a bit more.
All ingredients are weighed in GRAMS, even for liquids. This is by far the easiest way to measure ingredients, and accurate should you wish to scale them up or down. They are also listed in the order they go into the bowl.
Eggs - Essential for binding and providing structure to the cake. We use medium. If you only have small or large eggs you can use them however you would have to weigh them out accordingly. As a guide, one medium egg weighs approx. 50g out of the shell.
Oil - Using oil instead of butter not only brings down the cost of ingredients it also helps the cake stay moist for far longer. It also makes the recipe resilient for beginners. If you are a novice baker, overbaking this cake by a small margin would not make a huge difference versus overbaking a butter-based cake recipe (which would result in a very dry sponge).
Milk - To add moisture and lightness. We use whole milk however you can use semi-skimmed too.
Cocoa powder - A good quality cocoa powder can really make a big difference to the chocolate cake's rich flavour. You can easily find good cocoa powder at supermarkets and even corner shops. Just make sure you are using cocoa powder for baking, and NOT hot chocolate powder.
Instant coffee - Earlier in the blog post I said that adding coffee granules is our little trade secret. It deepens the cocoa flavour. You can skip the coffee of course, but it really does amplify the cocoa which just needs a little extra nudge to come alive. Coffee and cocoa often go hand in hand...in fact, cocoa contains caffeine too. Maybe that's why the coffee granules is like the umami to chocolate cakes. I have absolutely zero-scientific evidence behind this theory and 100% confidence that it just works!
Flour - We use plain flour. Our preference for plain flour is simply based on the fact that we don't like having too many bags of different flours in storage! It's also that handy all-rounder flour that is most likely to be found in a cupboard. You can use self-raising flour and leave out the baking powder however there might be a difference in the rise.
Sugar - Necessary for sweetness and keeping the moisture in the cake. As we do not use butter in this recipe there is no creaming stage. So we use granulated sugar instead of the more expensive caster sugar. You can use caster if you wish (but why would you when it's more spenny?!). You can also reduce the amount of sugar if you wish however the amount we use is to make the moistest cake.
Baking Soda and Baking Powder - We use BOTH in this recipe. They compliment each other when it comes to leavening and adding tenderness to the chocolate cake.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long it will last? This chocolate cake tastes great for 5-7 days if stored well.
Can you freeze it? Absolutely! Wrap the sponge layers in cling film and you can freeze them for up to 3 months.
How many people would this serve? A tall 6" layer cake would serve 8-10 portions, and an 8" layer cake would serve 14 portions.
I have made this fabulous recipe many times using 2x8 inch tins. Do you have quantities for 3x7 inch tins? The great thing about this recipe is that it can be scaled up and down with ease due to it being all measured in grams. I would suggest scaling up the recipe by x1.25-1.3.
As it is very light would it be strong enough for me to use fondant icing to cover it? Yes. Just buttercream as normal and fondant-away! However, it isn't the best cake for carving sculptures as it is VERY soft and moist.
Do you think this would work with 3x20cm pans or do you think I would have to increase the amounts? 20cm are 8" size tins. You would have to scale up the recipe by x1.5.
What is the secret to super moist cake? Oil, sugar and not over-baking!
Is chocolate cake better with oil or butter? While there is a degree of personal preference at play, ever since we switched over to oil-based recipes, our customers give us the best feedback we have ever received and our customer loyalty has also shot through the roof. The proof is in the pudding AND the numbers for us! Chocolate cake is one of those flavours that is at most risk of being dry and flavourless at a lot of bakeries. Oil makes the cake extremely moist, and keeps it that way for FAR LONGER than butter ever could. Some people associate butter with "better flavour" in cakes. This is a romantic myth. Butter is too mild a flavour to be credited as flavour-bringer in chocolate cake. The flavour comes from the COCOA. Take a seat, butter.
What makes it light and fluffy? Using milk and raising agents - baking soda and baking powder, makes the cake airy, spongey, light and fluffy. Making sure you don't over-mix the batter also ensures the cake does not become dense.
If using oil, what’s the best oil? Can you use olive oil? Or a mix of butter and oil? The best oils to use are the ones that are liquid at room temperature and neutral in flavour. We recommend vegetable, sunflower or groundnut oil. You can use olive oil, however it will impart a flavour (which isn't unpleasant! But might catch you off-guard if you're not expecting it!). You can't use a mixture of oil and butter in this recipe as butter is solid at room temperate and behaves differently in the baking process.
Is it better to grease the pan with butter or oil? You can use either! If using oil, a cooking spray works best, or spreading a thin coat using some kitchen towel.
The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe
Here's my favourite chocolate cake recipe, next to the Chocolate Hero Sponge (which is similar but a more robust recipe for the versatility of numerous variations). It takes less than 10 mins to prep, bakes in 30 minutes, and yields either 3x6" round layers, 2x 8" round layers, or 12x muffin-sized cupcakes. You can decorate it in any way you like but we've included our favourite chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream recipe below.
2 Eggs, medium
120g Oil (any neutral oil like vegetable or sunflower)
250g Whole milk
85g Cocoa powder
5g Instant coffee granules
300g Granulated sugar
230g Plain flour, sifted
10g Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda)
5g Baking powder
Making the Batter
1. Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees celsius and prepare three 6 inch round cake tins by greasing with butter or cooking spray.
2. Whisk together eggs, oil, milk cocoa powder and instant coffee until it's well combined. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and sugar and mix well.
3. Add the sugar and whisk well. Sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder and whisk till well mixed and just until no lumps remain.
Baking the Cake
4. When it comes to baking the chocolate cake, divide the batter evenly between the cake tins and bake until a skewer comes out clean. Baking times will vary between ovens however it generally takes 25-28 minutes.
5. Once baked, bring them out of the oven and let the sponges rest in their tins for around 10-15 minutes before releasing them and cooling to room temperature on wire racks.
Frosting the Cake
150g egg white at room temperature
225g granulated sugar
300g butter at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
Making the Frosting
1. Follow the recipe for our smooth as silk Swiss meringue buttercream.
2. Once the buttercream is ready and smooth, add in the cocoa powder and whip till well mixed.
Decorating your Cake
Food Colour gel pastes (pink, green, blue, purple, yellow)
How to Decorate
1. Smear a dollop of icing in the centre of an 8" cake board using a cranked palette knife. Place a chocolate sponge layer in the middle and smooth a layer of chocolate buttercream over it.
2. Sandwich and build up the chocolate sponge layers with buttercream until the last sponge layer has buttercream smoothed over and crumb coat the outer edges of the cake with chocolate buttercream, smoothing with the edge of the palette knife or a cake scraper. Chill in the fridge to set for 10-15 minutes.
3. Smooth another layer of chocolate buttercream all over and smooth using the edge of the palette knife or cake scraper. A decorating turn-table helps with getting a super smooth finishing.
4. You delicious chocolate cake is now ready to decorate with swirls of buttercream with a piping bag fitted with any piping nozzle of your choice, sprinkles, or even chocolates and cookies.
It's quite easy to make a dry and dense chocolate cake, due to cocoa powder's drying effects on sponges, but not this recipe! You may panic at how runny the batter is, but the cake rises well and the high proportion of liquid ingredients helps keep the cake moist for days, and the deep chocolatey flavour is unbeatable.
Anges de Sucre's Tips
Frosting Substitute - If you'd like something different, try pairing this chocolate cake with a classic cream cheese frosting. Cream cheese frosting isn't JUST for crowning red velvet or carrot cakes. It works beautifully with ANY cake as it's tempered in sweetness and has a delightful tangy flavour. We have a wonderfully quick and easy recipe for cream cheese frosting in this blog post for it.
Flavour Variations - If you're a fan of chocolate orange (like most of us!), try spiking the recipe by adding in the zest of one orange. Chocolate and orange are a match made in heaven. Wondering what to do with the bald orange once it's been zested? Juice it and add it into the Swiss meringue buttercream to flavour it of course!
Gluten-Free - If you'd like to make a gluten-free chocolate cake, you can use this recipe! Simply swap out the plain flour and baking powder for gluten free plain flour and gluten free baking powder. Be sure to check the ingredients of the baking powder you buy - not all baking powders are gluten-free. Same goes for any decorative sprinkles - always, always, always check.
Bake in Advance - This chocolate cake recipe is perfect for preparing in advance as it can be stored in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Bake now, even if you don't have an immediate occasion, and future you is going to be SO SMUG when you're able to whip up a show-stopping cake at the drop of a hat when the need strikes.
Vegan - Unlike gluten-free, making a vegan-version of this cake isn't ideal. This is due to the eggs playing such an important role in the binding of the batter and the structure. We do however have a fantastic vegan chocolate cake recipe that tastes just as good, without the eggs or dairy. Hurrah!
I hope you make this and love it as much as me and our customers do. If you do use this recipe please do share on instagram and tag me in @angesdesucre #angesdesucre so I can see and salivate from afar. This recipe is similar to our Hero Chocolate Sponge Recipe except the Hero Sponge recipe is far more versatile. It is still an oil-based recipe but includes multiple flavour variations, like choc chip and marble, using the one base recipe. If you like this recipe, then you'll definitely love the Hero Sponge recipe!
If you have any questions or comments, drop them below this post!
Lots of love,
October 29, 2020
This is my favourite ever chocolate cake and have used it for many family birthdays. As it is very light would it be strong enough for me to use fondant icing to cover it? Really hope so!