1. Cakes latest recipes

Fancy chocolate layer cake


  • 11/2 cups (225g) plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 125g best-quality dark chocolate, buttons or chopped
  • 1/2 cup (50g) Dutch-process cocoa
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) strong espresso
  • 1 cup (250ml) boiling water
  • 150g unsalted butter, softened
  • 250g soft dark-brown sugar
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 1/2 cup creme fraiche or thick sour cream


  • 175g caster sugar
  • 4 free-range egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 270g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 50ml warm water
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) warm espresso


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Butter two 18cm x 5cm deep sponge tins and line bases with baking paper.
  2. Sift flour, bicarb, baking powder and a pinch of sea salt into a large bowl. In a smaller bowl combine the chocolate, cocoa, espresso and boiling water. Stand for a few minutes, then whisk until smooth. In a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating between additions just until combined. Add creme fraiche. Mix well.
  3. Add half the flour mixture. Fold in with a spatula. Add half the chocolate mixture and mix on low speed. Stop and add the rest of the flour. Fold in with a spatula.
  4. Add remaining chocolate mixture. Mix on low speed to a smooth batter.
  5. Divide batter evenly between prepared tins. Bake for 50-55 minutes until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  6. Line a wire rack with a clean, dry tea towel. Allow the cakes to cool in their tins for 10 minutes, then turn out onto the tea towel to cool completely. Strip away the baking paper. The cakes cannot be frosted until they are completely cold.
  7. Start the buttercream after the cakes come out of the oven. Place sugar in a small bowl and put it in the turned-off oven for 20 minutes to become very warm.
  8. Place warmed sugar, egg whites, cream of tartar and a pinch of sea salt in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water). Whisk, using a balloon whisk. After 3 minutes dip your finger in – the mixture should be hot but not unbearably so.
  9. Transfer mixture to stand mixer and beat just under maximum speed for 5 minutes until a thick, glossy meringue. Keeping the mixer at this speed, add half the butter a couple of tablespoons at a time, allowing each dose to be incorporated fully before adding the next. Scrape down the sides, then continue whisking in the butter, a bit at a time. Add vanilla and warm water and whisk for 2 more minutes to a satiny consistency. Stir in the espresso.
  10. Place one cake upside-down on a plate. Pile on and spread a third of the buttercream. Top with the other cake, this time with its top uppermost. Spread more buttercream over the top and sides of the double-layered cake and neaten with a flexible spatula. Refrigerate until it is time to serve the cake.