Old Fashioned Chocolate cake

I had to have a look back over my previous posts before doing this one and I couldn’t believe I haven’t posted this recipe before (unless I have lost the post somewhere?). This is a really great recipe for what ends up as a stunningly tasty Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake. I was surprised that I haven’t posted on it before as we have made it a few times over the last two or three years, for birthdays, to take to work, and as a treat at home too. I also made it for some of my cake sales last year where it went down really well.

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This time round it was Hana’s turn to make it last Sunday afternoon, yet sadly this time I didn’t get to have any, yes a few tears might have slipped out. And what was worse? This time Hana made it as a triple layer cake as opposed to the usual two layer cake. Sucky and beautiful at the same time. But it was for a good cause. Back on Red Nose Day there was a people auction at Hana’s work (not as bad as it sounds!) People offered up a skill or there time or something else and others bid on it. Hana’s offering was to bake a cake for someone. She raised £25 which I think is really good going for a charity auction, especially when they haven’t even seen the cake yet!

Hana sent a list of ideas to her colleague who bought the cake and from a big list with some pretty fancy cakes on they chose to go with the traditional Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake. (I have to pop in a disclaimer saying the recipe is from the Nigella cookbook, Feast. If you don’t have it I highly recommend it as it has loads of our stand-by recipes like Anchovy Pasta). As I said to make it a bit more special Hana made it with three sponges, usually it is done with two but having seen the result it looked great.

I also got a bit jealous when it came to decoration. Since we got the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook last year I have tried a few of their techniques for cake decorating. Though a lot of the techniques for icing can look really simple, they can be deceptively hard to get right. And guess what, Hana pulled that off two! The swirls on top which continue down the side are done with a pallet knife and they do take some practice so don’t worry if yours don’t look like this straight away. The best thing about icing is that you can always start again.

I have to say hats of to Hana for this one. Hopefully next time around I will get to try some! The recipe below is for the standard two sponge cake. If you want to make one with three adjust the ingredients accordingly. The icing recipe makes more than enough for even a three layer cake so leave it as it is.

Old Fashioned chocolate cake

Old Fashioned chocolate cake

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

For the cake
200g flour
200g caster sugar
1tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
40g cocoa
175g unsalted butter
2 large eggs
2tsp vanilla extract
150ml sour cream

Sprinkles on Chocolate Cake

Sprinkles on Chocolate Cake

For the icing
75g unsalted butter
175g dark chocolate
300g icing sugar
1tbsp golden syrup
125ml sour cream
1tsp vanilla extract
decorations including sugar flowers, sprinkles or what you fancy!


Take all the ingredients out of the fridge for about 30 mins and allow them to get up to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 180c and line two 20cm cake tins with baking paper.

Here’s where Nigella and I differ. She chucks everything into a food processer. Me and Hana think it works better if you do it speraratly. Cream together the butter and sugar. In a second bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda along with the cocoa.

Add the eggs to the cream and sugar and beat together before re-sifting the dry ingredients into this and beating. I find this gets much more air into the cake, making it lighter. Add in the Vanilla extract and the sour cream. Mix again

Divide into two cake tins and pop in the oven for around 30-40 minutes. Check them after 25 and play it by ear after this. It all depends upon upon your oven and they all are slightly different.

Once cooked through (a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean) cool in the tins on a wire rack for 10 minutes before turning out and allowing to cool fully.

Cut the cake!

Cut the cake!

The icing! 

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a bowl, over a pan of boiling water. Whilst that’s cooling sieve the icing sugar into a second bowl.

Add the golden syrup to the chocolaty, buttery mix followed by the sour cream and vanilla. Finally sieve in the icing sugar and give it a good beating, might take a few minutes.


Pop your one of the sponges on a stand or plate. Spoon a good dollop of icing on top and spread with a pallet knife, how much you want to use is really down to your taste. Remember its quite sweet. Sandwhich the second sponge (if using three repeat what you have just done)

Spoon the icing on top and gradually spread it out trying to make it even across the top before slowly adding it around the sides and smoothing out. As I am not confident on doing what Hana did with the Hummingbird technique I have not written about it, I don’t think I’d do a good job of getting it across.

Well I hope you enjoy this if you bake it. It’s perfect for and Easter treat this coming weekend so why not treat someone you love!


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