This is the chocolate cake recipe which kick-started my lifelong love affair with baking. I used to make it as a child and through my early teenage years. I knew the recipe by heart. I stumbled across it in one of my mom’s old handwritten recipe books and it’s recorded as ‘Wonder Cake’. I couldn’t wait to dive into my kitchen and make it again.
There is something really special about revisiting a recipe that you knew so well. In a way, it was a little like discovering a much-loved childhood toy. I looked at it and remember all the components, but now approaching it with a good deal more life and experience under my belt. I was super eager to taste it.
I needed to make a few minor modifications. Margarine was replaced with butter (obviously) and vanilla essence with extract (of course). I also tested the metric measurements to give an alternative, but I kept the method exactly the same.
There was no icing recipe with the cake, so I created one, which is kind of like my perfect buttercream. It makes a little more than is needed for the cake, which is moderate in size, so I was very generous with the layering. My brother-in-law raved about it so much and said anyway ‘cake is just an excuse to eat the icing.’
Cooks notes ~ I love to add espresso powder – diluted before – to my chocolate buttercream as it amplifies the flavour of the chocolate. You can use a teaspoon of strong instant coffee if you don’t have it. I use a really good quality Valrhona chocolate with 70% chocolate solids that melt very quickly.
The cake turned out very well. The sponge is perfectly light and moist and it really is a lovely recipe. It’s not the darkest or most decadent, but the frosting makes up for that giving it a sophisticated edge.
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my childhood chocolate wonder cake
- 3 Tbsp cocoa powder
- 4 Tbsp sugar
- 5 Tbsp milk
- 250 g 1 cup sugar
- 125 g butter room temperature
- 3 large free-range eggs separated
- 140 g 1 cup flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 125 ml 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 150 g butter
- 2 cups icing sugar
- 200 g dark chocolate 70%, melted (extra for decorating, optional)
- 2 Tbsp milk
- 1/2 tsp espresso powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
To make the cake:
- Pre heat the oven to 180C / 350F
- Put the first 3 ingredients into a small pot and bring it to the boil and allow to cool
- Using an electric mixer cream the butter and sugar until pale. Add the egg yolks one at a time ensuring they are well mixed before the next addition.
- Add the cooled cocoa mixture and beat.
- Sift the flour, salt and baking powder and add this to the cake mix alternating with the milk. Add the vanilla extract and beat briefly.
- Beat the egg whites until stiff and lastly fold these into the cake mix by hand.
- Divide the mixture between to 20 – 23cm greased/lined cake tins and bake for 25 – 30 minutes until springy to the touch.
- Allow to cool and then remove from the.
To make the icing:
- Melt the chocolate in a double boiler and then allow to cool.
- Dissolve the coffee in the milk and Beat this with the butter, icing sugar, and vanilla extract.
- Add the cooled melted chocolate and continue to beat until the icing is soft and fluffy.
- Ice the cake by generously spreading a layer of frosting in the middle, top and sides.
I look forward to connecting with you again in the future.