My Most Reliable Chocolate Cake

I’ve been having a tough few weeks at work of late, but I’m lucky to have supportive colleagues. I’m a firm believer in showing appreciation rather than just saying “thank you.” However, the tough times are far from over, so I don’t exactly have a lot of time to bake. But when I’m in a pinch, I reach for this fast chocolate cake recipe that always produces fantastic results.

It’s a recipe I’ve tweaked over the last few years and it produces a very tasty cake. And it’s quick and simple to put together as well. (I’ve slapped one together in an hour once!)

All the chocolate in this recipe takes the form of cocoa, which removes the hassle of melting chocolate and waiting for it to cool. I’ve also reduced the leavening agents in the cake just enough so that you should get cake layers so flat you don’t have to cut off any dome – yet another great time-saver.

The chocolate icing again uses cocoa, and the recipe just follows the basic ratio of fat to sugar I use in all my buttercream icings. The recipe I’ve listed here makes enough icing to ice the cake completely with some left over to do a little piping work.

If you’re really pressed for time, halve the icing recipe and don’t bother to ice the sides of the cake so it looks just like a Victorian sponge, then decorate it in one of these four quick and simple ways.


  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 150g all-purpose flour
  • 30g unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup yoghurt

Makes 2 7-inch layers.

For the chocolate icing:
  • 75g unsalted butter, softened
  • 75g shortening
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 50g unsweetened cocoa
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 2-4 tbsp milk


Step 1: Preheat your oven to 175°C (350°F). Grease and line 2 7-inch round cake tins.

Step 2: Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and salt, and mix in. Beat in the eggs one at a time.

Step 3: Sift in the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix in the yoghurt.

Step 4: Divide batter equally between the 2 tins and bake for 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature before icing.

Step 5: To make the icing, beat the butter, shortening, vanilla, and salt on high-speed for 5 minutes. Sift in the cocoa and icing sugar, and beat to combine. Add milk until you achieve a spreadable consistency.

Step 6: Ice and decorate the cake.

I know what it feels like to be unappreciated, and I would never wish it upon the people I care about. But anyone can say “thank you” without a moment’s thought. I believe if you’re really sincere about showing gratitude, you should put in some effort to show your appreciation. It doesn’t have to be a whole cake made from scratch, but just something a little extra, like a note or buying coffee, can really make someone’s day.

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