Perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe

If you’re a baker and a parent, guaranteed your school’s PTA will soon know about it! This week I’m sharing the recipe for the delicious cake I made for yesterday’s school summer fair.

I’m a parent governor at our middle daughter’s infant school and over the years since Bake Off I’ve tried to do as many baking-related things as possible with them. One of the highlights for the kids is the annual summer fair, and for the past three years I’ve done the ‘Guess The Weight of the Cake’. Last year’s Rainbow Funfetti Lemon Cake is pictured above (recipe here).

The year before, I made the Lemon Meringue cake pictured above, with layers of lemon sponge, home made lemon curd, and lemon-flavoured Italian meringue buttercream, topped with meringue kisses and macarons.

And in 2015 I made the Rainbow Piñata cake above. Of course in 2014 I was filming the final of our series of Great British Bake Off so didn’t do the Summer Fair cake that year as my secret life as a Bake Off-er wasn’t public knowledge yet! Good luck to all the contestants for this year, who have presumably just wrapped their series. This is the period between filming and the show airing when they have to go back to their normal lives and pretend nothing has happened.

This summer has been a scorcher so far but in this heat, the last thing I wanted to do was lug a 4kg cake around the school playing fields in the blazing sun, drumming up entries – it would have been ruined. So I did a different competition this year: guess how many chocolate pieces are on the cake. I went berserk in the sweet shop and covered the cake in giant Cadbury’s Buttons, Rolos, Maltesers, Curly Wurlies, Minstrels, Oreos, brown M&M’s, and round chocolate sprinkles. I used my egg-free chocolate cake recipe as quite a few of my daughters’ friends at school don’t eat egg so this has been a favourite at quite a few of their parties. It’s a delicious sponge, fantastic to work with, and stays fresh and moist for longer than normal sponges. I would really recommend giving this a go.

Perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe


For each 8″ sponge (I used 4 sponges in this cake so used four times these ingredients)

  • 125g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder (trust me, you need this much)
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1/2 tin (approx 200ml) of condensed milk
  • 125ml warm water
  • 50g unsalted butter (melted)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla paste or vanilla essence (I usually use this one)

For the chocolate buttercream

  • 750g icing sugar
  • 100g cocoa powder
  • 375g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 2 tsp vanilla paste
  • A few splashes of milk to loosen it up

For the decorations

  • Go crazy with the toppings – more is more!


  1. Grease and line two 8 inch / 20cm springform cake tins (like these) with baking parchment and preheat the oven to 180oC  / fan 160oC  / gas mark 4
  2. If you only have one 8 inch tin, bake these one at a time with the quantities outlined above, otherwise – double the quantities and share them between two 8 inch tins.
  3. Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl, mixing thoroughly with a spoon
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the condensed milk, melted butter, vanilla paste and a quarter of the water. Pour this into the dry ingredients and fold together with a silicone spatula or spoon until fully incorporated and smooth (no lumps)
  5. Fold in the remaining water and divide the batter between the two tins (there should be about 450g per tin)
  6. Bake for 30 minutes then remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack
  7. Repeat this process to make the second two sponges and leave to cool
  8. To make the buttercream, using a handheld electric whisk, beat together the butter, icing sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla paste until smooth/ Add the milk if the buttercream needs loosening up
  9. When the sponges have cooled completely, you may need to cut a small amount from the top of each sponge with a serrated knife to level them out
  10. Construct the cake by smoothing buttercream onto the first sponge, adding the next sponge and repeating until all four sponges are stacked, then coat the cake with buttercream, smooth around the edges and cover with as many decorations as you can fit

And if you’ve made it all the way to the end of this recipe, the least I can do is to tell you how many individual pieces of chocolate were on the cake: *drum roll* … 253! Until next time, Happy Baking!

2 thoughts on “Perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe

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