The best chocolate cake

Every baker needs an epic chocolate cake recipe up their sleeve and now, Martha Collison's will become your go-to. Buttermilk and bitter coffee work together to create a deep, rich, flavoursome cake with a beautifully moist crumb.

4.5 out of 5 stars(13) Rate this recipe
  • Serves10
  • CourseCake
  • Prepare30 mins
  • Cook25 mins
  • Total time55 mins

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  • 125ml vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 250g plain flour
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200g light brown soft sugar
  • 75g cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 284ml tub buttermilk (or see tip)
  • 2 British Blacktail Medium Free Range Eggs
  • 200ml strong brewed coffee, cooled

For the topping

  • 200g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
  • 50g butter
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 300ml double cream
  • Cooks' Ingredients Milk Choc Vermicelli, to decorate


  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC, gas mark 4. Grease 3 x 18cm round tins with a little oil, and line with baking parchment. Put the flour, both sugars, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large bowl and whisk to combine.

  2. Whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs and coffee in a measuring jug until smooth. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients, whisking until a smooth batter forms. It will be runny, so the best way to divide it between the tins is to transfer the batter to a large jug, use measuring cups to equally divide it, or put each tin on the scales and measure by weight.

  3. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

  4. To make the topping, place the dark chocolate, butter and golden syrup into a large heatproof bowl set over a pan of just simmering water. Stir until smooth and melted, then remove from the heat and pour in the cream. Mix well, then put it into the fridge for at least 15 minutes to harden a little.

  5. Once the ganache sets slightly, use an electric hand mixer to beat it for 2-3 minutes, until lighter in colour with a mousse-like texture.

  6. To assemble, place 1 sponge onto a plate or cake stand. Top with ¼ of the whipped ganache, smooth with a spatula and repeat with the following sponges, topping each with the same amount of ganache. Decorate with the chocolate vermicelli.

Cook’s tip

Coffee is the secret to deep richness and the moist texture of this cake, and I assure you the flavour is indistinguishable from the chocolate. If you wish to avoid caffeine, use decaffeinated coffee instead. If you are adamant about leaving it out, replace it with water, but I implore you to try it.


If you can’t get your hands on buttermilk, make your own by mixing 275ml milk with 1½ tbsp lemon juice. Mix it together in a small jug, then leave to stand for 5 minutes. The lemon juice will acidify the milk and thicken it, ready to use in the cake batter.


Typical values per serving when made using specific products in recipe


2,987kJ/ 716kcals



Saturated Fat












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