This is an everyday chocolate cake that I make whenever I feel the need for something chocolatey, but not too rich. I've often used it as the base for a chocolate birthday cake as it's quick and easy to make.
This chocolate sponge cake recipe is a variation on a Victoria Sandwich cake, using the all-in-one method, so it's a nice easy cake to make. Essentially, you just substitute cocoa powder for some of the flour and make it in the usual way.
This isn't a rich chocolate cake but it tastes very good and it's one of the best cakes I know, because what makes a good cake isn't how elaborate it is but, rather, the quality of the ingredients.
It's a simple chocolate cake with buttercream filling, vanilla in this case, but you could easily make it chocolate or coffee instead.
It's worth using good quality cocoa in chocolate cakes. It's tempting to buy a cheaper brand for cooking with, but you're paying for the quantity of cocoa solids and the more you have, the better the cake. It's the way to make an easy chocolate cake into a really tasty chocolate cake.
The main thing though, is not to use drinking chocolate because it is largely sugar and milk powder.
I take a different approach to butter and use a cheaper brand than I would eat, but I do always use butter because it tastes better and you know what's in it.
What if I don't have large eggs?
The only thing to say about eggs is to use large ones to get the ratio of ingredients right. If you don't have large eggs, you can revert to the gold standard for this type of cake and weigh the eggs in their shells then use the same weight of butter, sugar and flour+cocoa (i.e. the flour and cocoa together equal the weight of the eggs).
Ring the changes
Change the size of the tins
- 15cm (6-inch) cake - 2 large eggs, 125g butter and sugar, 20g cocoa, 105g flour, 1tsp baking powder.
- 20cm (8-inch) cake - 4 large eggs, 250g butter and sugar, 35g cocoa, 215g flour, 2tsp baking powder.
Change the buttercream flavour
For coffee buttercream icing, add 2 teaspoons of instant coffee dissolved in as little hot water as it takes.
For chocolate buttercream, use 20g cocoa instead of 20g of the sugar.
I tend to make a lot of buttercream for this classic chocolate cake because we like it. You could get away with less, or you could spread a layer over the top and run a fork through to get a pattern.
Secrets of Success
Like most of my baking, this is an all-in-one recipe for chocolate cake, making it almost foolproof. The key is to mix the ingredients well enough so that they are completely combined, but not to over-mix them by leaving the processor or mixer on for too long.
You need soft butter
All-in-one recipes need soft butter. Room temperature is fine unless you have a cold kitchen. I have found that some brands of butter soften at a higher temperature than others, so it may need a little help.
Why are my cakes sometimes dry?
If your cakes turn out dry, check out my article Why Is My Cake Dry? for some of the most common reasons and the solutions.
How long will it keep?
The cakes keep well for up to a week in an airtight box – preferably in the fridge.
Does a chocolate sponge cake freeze?
The un-iced cakes can be frozen for up to a month.
What equipment do you need?
- Baking parchment circles – Such a simple idea. Gone are the days when you had to draw round the base of the cake tin and cut out your own parchment circles. These mean that your cakes never stick to the base of the tin and, it saves on the washing up too! A pack in mixed sizes lasts for years.
- Splatter lid – This saves your kitchen surfaces from being covered in icing sugar. Cover your mixing bowl with the lid and poke your beaters through the hole, keeping the ingredients safely in place and your worktops clean
- Magimix Food Processor – Of course, any processor will do, but I can recommend the Magimix, having had the same one for 25 years. It’s needed a couple of new bowls and lids in that time, but the motor is still going strong.
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Everyday Chocolate Cake
For an 18cm (7 inch) cake:
- 3 large eggs
- 175 g caster sugar
- 175 g butter
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, the darker the better. Rounded tbsps - 60ml
- 150 g self-raising flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder (7.5ml)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (5ml)
- Pinch salt
For the vanilla buttercream:
- 75 g butter, at room temperature
- 150 g icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (5ml)
- Preheat the oven to 190°C/ 170°C fan/ gas mark 5/ 375°F
- Line the tins with a paper liner
- Grease the tins (if they need it) with butter paper (or a little butter on kitchen paper)
For the Everyday Chocolate Cake:
- Mix the cake ingredients together thoroughly(Butter, caster sugar, eggs, cocoa, flour, baking powder, salt, vanilla extract)
- Evenly divide the mixture between the tins. Smooth the top with a palette knife and make a slight dip in the centre
- Cook for 25-30 minutes until the cake surface springs back when you touch it lightly with your fingertip
- Remove from the tin and leave to cool on a cooling rack. Leave the paper in place if you don’t intend to fill the cake immediately.
For the buttercream filling:
- Beat the softened butter and vanilla extract with an electric whisk
- Add in the icing sugar (and optionally cocoa) gradually, beating well as you go
- Decide which cake looks better (e.g. flatter or less cracked) and put it aside
- Put the other cake upside down on your plate. Spread the buttercream over the cake
- Put the better-looking cake on top, the right way up. Sprinkle the top with sieved icing sugar
Everyday Cooks tips:
- Use a splatter guard over your mixing bowl to keep mess to a minimum
- If you prefer a chocolate buttercream, use 20g cocoa powder and reduce the icing sugar to 130g
- Different size tin:
- The cakes keep well for up to a week in an airtight box – preferably in the fridge.
- The un-iced cakes can be frozen for up to a month