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 an everyday birthday cake.
This page has some affiliate links. For more information see the Disclosure Page.
This chocolate cake is a variation on a Victoria Sandwich cake, 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 might be an everyday cake but it tastes very good, because what makes a good cake isn’t how elaborate it is but, rather, the quality of the ingredients. Butter for one thing, and good quality cocoa. I know it’s tempting to buy a cheaper brand for cooking with, but you’re paying for the amount of cocoa solids and the more you have, the better the cake. Butter, on the other hand, can be a cheaper brand than you would eat.
I’ve used a larger tin (18cm) for this cake than I used for my Victoria Sandwich – partly to check ingredients for the different sizes, and also because family for tea means we need a bigger cake this weekend.
If you’re ever looking at an old recipe book the formula for this type of basic chocolate cake – or a Victoria Sandwich – is straightforward:
- 6-inch cake – 2 eggs, 4 oz of everything else
- 7-inch cake – 3 eggs and 6 oz
- 8-inch cake – 4 eggs and 8 oz.
It was so easy to remember the recipe. The eggs used were medium to get the right weight. Nowadays I prefer to use large eggs and the corresponding weights are:
- 15cm cake – 2 eggs, 125g of everything else
- 17 or 18cm cake – 3 eggs and 175g (The tin is the equivalent of 7 inches, but because it isn’t an exact conversion, manufacturers use either size)
- 20cm cake – 4 eggs and 250g.
Changing to metric units (in 1971) meant a lot of uncertainty about corresponding weights, and cookbooks from the 1970s and 1980s are often inconsistent in their measurements. They supplied both sets of units but, at first, they were still mostly using imperial units and they used conversion tables for the metric weights, so you get some very odd combinations.
Later on, when people started developing recipes using metric units for preference the inaccuracies disappeared, and today, of course, very few people still use imperial units – but ask your grandma, because she might be one of the few.
You can either weigh the eggs and use the same weight of sugar, butter, and flour and cocoa combined, or for speed use 175g of everything. I have to say when I made the buttercream for this cake I made a lot 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.
So this weekend we’ll be enjoying our everyday Chocolate Cake, easy and delicious.
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. Rounjded tbsp - 30g
- 150 g self-raising flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (7.5ml)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 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 cake on top, the right way up
- Sprinkle with sieved icing sugar
- 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
- 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: