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Chocolate Cake: Recipe and Facts

If there’s one thing everyone should know how to bake, it’s a chocolate cake! 


How would we define the perfect chocolate cake? Well, it has to be moist, intensely chocolatey without being overly sweet and not be overly expensive to make. This cake is just that! Considering how delicious this chocolate cake is, it’s laughably easy to make. There’s no creaming of butter, whipping of eggs whites or any need for fancy equipment here. No sir, this recipe follows a simple wet-into-dry method. You’ll just need two bowls and a whisk.


Our ultimate chocolate cake
SERVES 8    TOTAL TIME  1 hour 

For the Chocolate cake

White sugar 2 cups 

Cake flour 2 cups 

Cocoa powder cups

Baking powder 2 tsp 

Bicarbonate of soda 1 ½ tsp

Salt ½ tsp 

Eggs 2

Amasi 1 cup 

Vegetable oil ½ cup 

Vanilla essence 1 ½ tsp

Instant espresso powder 1 tsp 

Boiling water 1 cup 

For the Chocolate icing

Butter, softened 335 g

Cocoa powder ¾ cup

Icing sugar  ⅔ cups

Milk ¼ cup

For the Chocolate cake

1. Preheat the oven to 160ºC. Grease your cake tins and line the bases with baking paper.

2. Place the sugar into a large bowl and sieve the remaining dry ingredients on top. Give everything a good whisk to combine – this will help prevent those pesky lumps from forming in your batter.

3. Whisk together the eggs, amasi, oil and vanilla in a large heatproof bowl. In a separate jug, dissolve the coffee powder in the boiling water. While whisking, slowly pour the hot coffee into the amasi mixture.

4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk to form a smooth batter.

5. Divide the batter evenly between your cake tins or cupcake liners.

6. Bake the cakes for 30–40 min, or cupcakes for 20–25 min. Do this until the surface springs back when touched and a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean.

7. Allow the cakes to cool in their tins for 15 min, then remove and cool on a wire rack.

For the Chocolate icing

1. Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, beat the butter until creamy and light in colour, about 5 min.

2. Add the cocoa powder and mix until combined.

3. Add the icing sugar, alternating with the milk in three batches, whisking on high speed for about a minute between additions. Add more milk if the icing looks too thick, and more icing sugar if it seems too soft.

4. Ice your cakes and decorate with chocolate shavings.


The know-how

Flour: One of the most common baking errors is incorrectly measuring the flour. The easiest way to measure flour is using a scale: 1 cup of flour should weigh about 130 g. If you don’t have a scale, then fluff up your flour using a spoon, spoon it into your measuring cup and level off with a knife.

Cocoa: To make this chocolate cake, we don’t use bank-breaking amounts of chocolate but rather good-quality cocoa powder. It not only saves on the cost, but also creates a softer crumb as well!

Amasi: There are a few secrets as to why this cake is so deliciously moist. One of them is the use of amasi instead of regular milk. Buttermilk or dairy-free milk can be used as an alternative. 

Oil: The moist, tender crumb of this cake is owed in part to the use of oil. While butter-based cakes tend to dry out more quickly, oil-based ones keep extremely well. 

Coffee: Coffee is often a polarising ingredient in baking. Because we’re not using actual chocolate in this cake, the addition of coffee powder is necessary to enhance the chocolate flavour in the cocoa powder. It will not make your cake taste like coffee.

Boiling water: A very usual part of this recipe is the addition of boiling water – a whole cup of it. The final batter will be more liquid as a result, but don’t be tempted to add any more flour. If using loose-bottomed cake tins, place them on a baking tray to catch any batter that might drip out during baking. The cake will also take longer to bake as a result.

Baking soda: Baking the cake at a lower temperature keeps the tops flat, so you don’t need to level off the tops.


Storage & freezing

This chocolate cake freezes extremely well. Just wrap the cooled cakes in cling film and place in sealable freezer bags. You can ice the cakes while still cold (this makes it easier for stacking) or defrost in the fridge overnight.


Cake tin conversions

1 chocolate cake recipe makes: 

  2 × 8 in (20 cm) round cakes 

  24 cupcakes

  One rectangular sheet cake (approximately 33 × 23 cm)


Words by Kirsty Buchanan
Photography: Pexels


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