The ultimate chocolate cake

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the ultimate chocolate cake

It’s decadent, dark, and delicious and may well be the ultimate chocolate cake.  It’s baked slowly on a lower temp to deliver a gooey, dense texture that teeters on the edge of ‘brownies-ness’ sending you straight into chocolate heaven. Don’t expect airy, fairy, light, and fluffy, this is a solid fudgy cake that will easily bowl anyone over.

It’s one of the best chocolate cake recipes I have come across, and it sits firmly in my top three of all time.  It was voted as a BBC website winner and is one of GoodFoods top 80 best ever recipes. I can see why.

I have made it twice using less chocolate than the recipe calls for (i.e. 180gms), and used every day, less extravagant dark chocolate and cocoa powder, and it’s still exceptional. I also added vanilla extract (not in the original recipe) which I find very necessary to enhance the chocolate flavour.

Tips & substitutions:

  1. If you don’t have self-raising flour, simply use 150gms cake or all-purpose flour and 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder. Remember to sift the two together before adding them to the mixture (at least once but twice is preferable).
  2. You can use less chocolate if you prefer (180gms) and can get away with using cheaper dark chocolate if you want to save on costs.

Adapted from BBC Good Food magazine  (I find the ganache too rich for this chocolate cake so have replaced it with a slightly lighter but very smooth frosting recipe).

The ultimate choclate cake

A dark and decadent chocolate cake recipe that may be the ulitmate.
Print Recipe
the ultimate chocolate cake
Prep Time:20 minutes
Cook Time:1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time:2 hours



  • 200 gm dark chocolate preferably 70% couverture
  • 200 gms butter
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee
  • 85 gms self raising flour
  • 85 gms plain flour
  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 200 gms dark brown treacle sugar
  • 200 gms white sugar
  • 25 gms cocoa powder about 4 ½ slightly heaped tbsp
  • 3 large eggs room temp
  • 75 ml buttermilk 5Tbsp
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  • 175 gms chocolate
  • 75 gms butter
  • 1 Tbs corns syrup or golden syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup / 125ml sour cream or cream
  • 2 ½ cups icing sugar 300gms
  • I added 1 tsp of instant coffee granules dissolved in 1 - 2 tbsp of rum I love rum with chocolate and think coffee makes chocolate frosting more chocolatey



  • Preheat the oven to 160 degrees c / fan 140 c and grease a 20cm round cake pan or spray with a cooking spray and line with baking paper
  • Break the chocolate into pieces into a small pan and add the butter
  • Dissolve the coffee with 125ml of cold water and then add to the butter and chocolate mixture and melt altogether over a gentle heat – do not boil
  • When its all melted together set aside to cool
  • In a bowl sift the 2 flours and bicarb
  • Add the sugar and cocoa until it’s all combined
  • In a separate bowl beat the eggs until light and fluffy
  • Add the buttermilk and briefly beat together
  • Add the cooled chocolate and egg / buttermilk mix to the dry mix and fold it all together by hand
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 1 hour 25 minutes – 1 ½ hours. Check by piercing the cake with a small sharp knife or skewer – it should come out clean. The top of the cake will be firm and may have a few cracks
  • Allow the cake to cool in the tin, and when its completely cool, remove from the tin and peel off the paper.
  • Cut into 2 or 3 horizontally (I think 2 layers are perfect), and ice the cake with the chocolate frosting


  • Break the chocolate up into pieces and melt in a double boiler with the butter
  • When it’s all melted together add the syrup and the cream and stir through to combine
  • Put the icing sugar into the food processor and whiz or alternatively if you are using a beater, sift the icing sugar into a bowl
  • Mix or process the chocolate mixture with the icing sugar until it all combined
  • I added the coffee and rum at the final stage and found that it totally enhances the chocolate flavours.
Author: Sam Linsell

Or you could make the Ganache as per the original GoodFood recipe:

  •  200gms chocolate
  • 284ml double cream (pouring)
  • 2 tbs caster sugar

Heat the cream and sugar n a pan until it’s about to boil and then pour over the chopped up chocolate pieces in a separate boil and mix until it’s melted and combined and smooth.

You might also like:

My best Baking recipes

My 10 best cake recipes

The best chocolate Nutella brownies

Double chocolate chip skillet cookie

Decadent chocolate & pine nut tart

Chocolate fondant with Lindt Lindor

Chocolate marshmallow sweetie pies

Cheesecake brownies with chocolate Romany Creams





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  1. That is a seriously impressive looking cake. I agree, sometimes, you have trade in your fluffy cake for a dense, rich one. Less air, more chocolate ;]

  2. whippingitup says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this divine looking cake with us! I will definately try it sometime. Love the way you’ve decorated it! I’m amazed at how often you post, how do you do it???? Keep well, Lana

  3. I wish my cake decoration skills could come even close to yours, but it is sadly lacking. The cake sounds absolutely divine (brownie-ish texture? Yes please!) and the truffle and candied citrus slice topping is just the proverbial cherry on top. This one is definitely going on my to-make list!

  4. Thanks for that – this really is a solid winner of a cake. let me know what you think when you have baked it

  5. I got to eat this – be very jealous. And I’m a choc cake master taster…

  6. YUM! Have to try this – I’ve never managed to find a recipe for the elusive dense dark (not so fluffy) choc cake. Thanks!!

  7. drizzleanddip says:

    Thanks Jenny, this cake is exactly that, but oh so very delicous and choclatey. Enjoy!

  8. Maureen Schlenkm says:

    Can you tell me where I can buy Belgium couverture and Dutch processed cocoa powder please?

  9. Hi Maureen, I buy from Koko trading in the Northern suburbs (Cape Town)

  10. I made this cake last week and it came out perfectly. Dense, moist and not too rich.
    This is definitely the best chocolate cake I have come across!
    Thank you for sharing this recipe.

  11. Thank you Sonja for dropping in to comment and so glad you loved this cake.

  12. The cake looks delicious! May I know which of the two chocolate icings you used with the above photo. Thanks.

  13. Hi Ela, I used Nigella’s frosting, the one in the post on the cake in the picture.

  14. Hi Sam – thanks for this recipe – this cake definitely is the ultimate chocolate cake – its delicious!!
    I made it as a last minute birthday cake, so didn’t bother with the couveture chocolate or dutch cocoa, and I used brown sugar instead of muscovado. Turned out really well, although I had to keep a close eye on it towards the end to make sure it didn’t over cook.
    I also just made the icing using dark choc & cream to make a ganache which worked really well.
    I’m not a huge cake fan, but I will most definitely be making this one again!!!

  15. Hi Kate, glad you enjoyed. I actually made it again 2 weeks ago and was once again astounded my its flavour and texture. I am actually going to be posting a how-to on this recipe later this week as I did it for Elle magazine for their April issue.

  16. This cake looks delicious *___* I would like to do it, but since here in Italy it not so easy to find self raising flour, how much flour and how much bicarbonate or yeast would you recommend?

  17. HI Jon, its easy to convert normal cake flour to self raising. Simply add 2 teaspoons of baking powder to 1 cup of flour. This recipe does not contain yeast – so try and follow it as close as possible and just make your own self raising. Sam

  18. hi, a few problems- in the cake recipe;

    white sugar- granulated sugar? or caster sugar?
    can you leave out the coffee in both cake and frosting?
    and what is dark brown treacle syrup???? did you mean golden syrup? or something else?

    and how deep are tins?

  19. Hi Lulu. The white sugar is granulated (I would say if it was any other kind of sugar). You can leave out the coffee for sure. The recipe says dark brown treacle sugar, not syrup. The sugar is the very dark kind that sort of sticks together. In South Africa a 23 – 26cm spring form are all a standard height (more or less) around 8 – 10 cm. I used a darker chocolate for the Elle pic, vs the recipe on my site and added a little more golden syryp to achieve a gloss. It also shot under totally different lighting conditions, so does look shinier.

  20. Hi Lulu, no that is treacle syrup, the recipe is treacle SUGAR. it really doesn’t matter, just use a dark brown sugar. you could even use a light brown sugar or white sugar, I don’t think it will have a big effect on the outcome.

  21. Hi Sam
    I made the cake, it but came out flat and ended up not being a very ‘high’ cake, did I do something wrong, or is this right?

  22. HI Ivona, with such little information, I really cannot say what went wrong. I used a 22cm cake dish. maybe you used bigger? It is a very dense cakes, as I did explain in the post. The picture is how it came out. I have made it several times and it always comes out just like that.

  23. I tried this cake and it’s way too sweet. It was not even edible.

  24. Hi Tasneem, oh dear, sorry it was a bit much for you. I find it very rich but quite delectable.

  25. Hello! I just want to ask if I can also use unsweetened cocoa powder for the frosting instead of melting chocolates? Hope to hear from you soon! Thanks!

  26. Hi Erika, this particular recipe uses proper chocolate.

  27. Hi Sam, what is self raising flour? Can I just use regular flour?

  28. Hi Anukriti

    No self raising flour has the raising agents in it you cannot substitite with regular flour. if you google how to convert flour to self raising you will find an answer 🙂

  29. Hi Sam
    I just love your recipes. So much so, that I find myself always having a look on your blog first before I start searching anywhere else. 🙂
    I’m planning on baking this cake but was wondering whether I can pour the mixture into two cake tins instead of one (in order to skip the “cutting in half”-step). If so, will it impact the baking time?
    Thank you for the beautiful content!

  30. I just came across your site recently when looking for a recipe for banana bread, which is not commonly known in the German speaking countries…. since it was absolutely delicious I am now continuing to try all your other recipies ?… thank you so much for sharing them!
    Today I am going to bake your chocolate cake and please need to know the following: what in heaven’s name is “self raising flour” ?!??! I have no idea, never heard about it before ?

  31. Hi Nina – welcome and I’m so glad you found my site. Self-raising flour is flour that already has a raising agent in it (baking soda and baking powder) – if you Google how to make self-raising flour – there will be some rations on how to do this. I don’t have the exact quantities off-hand I’m sorry. I hope this is useful. The recipe on the front page of my site now is a really nice chocolate cake that uses regular cake flour or all purpose which might be better for you. Thanks Sam

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