Chocolate cake

I grew up with this recipe, which is why Imperial measurements are used. My mam made this cake for our birthday cakes, which I helped with, then eventually took over. My husband loves this cake.



  • 4 oz caster or granulated sugar
  • 4 oz butter or margarine (softened)
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 oz self-raising flour
  • cocoa powder to taste (I typically use 2-3 tsps)
  • vanilla essence or extract to taste (optional)

Butter cream

  • start with about 2 oz butter or margarine (softened)
  • icing sugar
  • vanilla essence or extract to taste (optional)


  • icing sugar
  • cocoa powder to taste
  • a little water



  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180 degrees C.
  2. Grease and line a 7 inch cake tin (with greaseproof paper).
  3. Beat together the sugar and butter or margarine in a large bowl until pale in colour and light in texture. An electric mixer makes light work of this.
  4. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Don’t worry if it curdles; this will be resolved when the flour is added.
  5. Add the flour and cocoa powder, sieving if you like.
  6. Continue beating with the electric mixer until the flour and cocoa are thoroughly mixed in. Altermatively, you could fold the flour in, but I’ve never done that.
  7. Mix in the vanilla essence or extract, if using.
  8. Transfer to the cake tin pushing most of the mixture towards the edges of the tin with hardly any in the middle, otherwise it’ll rise into a dome.
  9. Bake in the oven for 40 – 45 minutes. It’s done when a knife or skewer poked in the middle comes out clean, with no trace of moist mixture on it.
  10. Allow to cool in the tin for a moment before transferring to a cooling rack and remove the greaseproof paper lining.
  11. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Butter cream

  1. In a bowl, beat together the butter or margarine with a few dessertspoons of icing sugar and vanilla essence, if using, until white and fluffy. The amounts required depends on how much cream you want. Keep tasting as you go so that you get the right balance of butter to sugar. Be sparing with the vanilla.
  2. Cut the cooled cake in half horizontally and put the bottom half on a serving plate.
  3. Spread the butter cream over the bottom half of the cake.
  4. Put the top half on the top.


  1. Add to a small bowl a few dessert spoons of icing sugar and a teaspoon or so of cocoa powder.
  2. Add water a few drops at a time, mixing well with a metal spoon between each addition until a consistency that is neither too runny nor too thick. It needs to be loose enough to spread but firm enough to stay in place. Taste as you go to make sure you add the right amount of cocoa powder.
  3. Spread the icing over the top of the cake and allow to set a little.


This cake always seems best after it’s been refrigerated overnight, which isn’t to say it doesn’t taste nice when it’s freshly made!

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