An easy chocolate cake recipe that is moist and delicious, perfect for birthdays and celebrations. This easy chocolate cake recipe includes instructions for different sized cake pans, plus tips for making chocolate cupcakes. Recipe with step-by-step photos.
Easy Chocolate Cake
I am mindful that I have already shared quite a few chocolate cake recipes here on this blog, and that they all happen to be recipes which I frequently return to whenever a special occasion arises.
But recently, it occurred to me that I am often tweaking the recipes a bit here and there, particularly if I want to bake the cake in a different sized cake tin or if want to mix and match the cake with a different frosting.
So I thought it was worth posting one of my regular “tweaks” to my favourite moist chocolate cake recipe, which is Nigella Lawson’s Sour-Cream Chocolate Cake. This is a recipe which I have been faithful to for well over a decade – it is that good and that reliable, and it makes the best moist chocolate cake, ever.
Why This Recipe Works
- The cake batter is made in the food processor, which means you have only one bowl to clean and the batter is made in just a few minutes.
- As you are using a food processor, this is a great recipe if you need to make multiple cakes.
- The secret ingredient is sour cream to ensure a moist chocolate cake with a tender crumb, and there is also sour cream in the frosting for a lovely tang and creaminess.
Easy Chocolate Cake Recipe
For the most part, I love to make a double-layer cake as nothing exudes celebratory vibes more than a magnificantly tall cake.
But for little childrens’ birthday parties, especially at my childrens’ daycare centre, I prefer to produce a more humble-looking single-layer cake, not least because a wider and flatter cake tends to be more economical, particularly if you are catering to little people who enjoy licking the icing more than eating the actual cake.
For my daughter’s birthday party at daycare this week (which they celebrate during the afternoon tea session), I made a large single-layer chocolate cake with a simple chocolate frosting.
This easy chocolate cake recipe is also what I have used to make my son’s Dinosaur Cake two years in a row.
Whatever size cake you plan to make, whether as a single-layer or multi-layer cake, please see my instructions below for the different baking times for different sized cake tins.
But in case you are interested, here is my recipe for an Easy Chocolate Cake, aka my go-to-recipe for birthdays, celebrations, or simply when the craving for a good old-fashioned chocolate cake arises.
You won’t be disappointed.
How to Make Easy Chocolate Cake
What is “easy” about this chocolate cake recipe is that all of the ingredients go into the food processor, at the same time, and then blitzed until you have a lovely, thick chocolate batter.
This means that making the batter takes no more than 5-10 minutes, depending on how long it takes for you to measure the ingredients.
Place all of the ingredients for the chocolate cake into the large bowl of a food processor.
Simply blitz the ingredients together until you have a thick and smooth batter.
For this easy chocolate cake recipe, I like to use a 23cm (9 inch) round cake tin. I find it to be a good size for small parties (up to 20 children).
Bake the cake for 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Decorating the Chocolate Cake
When it comes to decorating the cake, I personally prefer to keep it plain with a simple chocolate frosting.
But for the kids, I will frost all sides of the cake with the chocolate frosting and then let the children decorate to their hearts content with smarties, sprinkles, gummi bears and whatever else takes their fancy in the cake decorating aisle of the supermarket.
How to Make Chocolate Cupcakes
To use this recipe to make chocolate cupcakes, simply line a 12 hole muffin pan, or 24 hole mini muffin pan, with muffin cases/muffin wrappers.
Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cases, and use a small off-set spatula to gently spread the batter in the muffin cases.
For regular cupcakes, bake for 15-20 minutes at 180°C (350°F) (without fan), or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
For mini cupcakes, bake for 12-15 minutes at 180°C (350°F) (without fan), or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Let the cupcakes cool completely on a wire rack before decorating.
When making chocolate cupcakes from this recipe, I usually have a bit of batter leftover, which is enough to fill a 12 cm (5 inch) round cake pan. Simply bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
More Chocolate Cake Recipes
Here are some more chocolate cake recipes you might enjoy:
Queen of Sheba Cake (Reine de Saba)
Sunken Chocolate Amaretto CakePrint
Easy Chocolate Cake
- Prep Time: 20 mins
- Cook Time: 35 mins
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: Serves 6-8
- Category: Cakes
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: British
An easy chocolate cake recipe that is moist and delicious, perfect for birthdays and celebrations.
For the chocolate cake
- 200 g (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 200 g (1 cup) caster sugar (superfine sugar)
- 200 g (1 1/3 cups) plain flour (all-purpose flour)
- 40 g (1/3 cup) cocoa powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 150 ml or 170 g (2/3 cup) sour cream or crème frâiche
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
For the chocolate frosting
- 80 g (3 oz) milk chocolate (e.g. 42% cocoa, semi-sweet chocolate)
- 80 g (3 oz) dark chocolate (e.g. 70% cocoa, bittersweet chocolate)
- 75 g (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
- 125 ml or 150 g (1/2 cup) sour cream or crème frâiche
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- 1 teaspoon golden syrup
- 300 g (2 1/4 cups) icing sugar (powdered sugar), sifted
To make the chocolate cake
Make sure all of the ingredients are at room temperature before starting.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (without fan).
- Line the bottom of a 23 cm (9 inch) round cake pan and grease the sides.
- Place all of the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and blitz until the mixture is well-combined. The batter should be thick and smooth.
- Alternatively, if you do not have a food processor:
- Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with the flat paddle attachment.
- Slowly beat in the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Beat on low speed until all of the ingredients are incorporated.
- In a small bowl or jug, lightly whisk together the sour cream, eggs and vanilla.
- Slowly add the wet ingredients to the mixer, and beat until the batter is thoroughly mixed.
- Pour the batter evenly into the prepared cake pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Place the cake pan on a wire rack and let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, before turning it onto the wire rack to cool completely.
To make the chocolate frosting
- Melt the chocolate and butter in a bain-marie or a bowl over a pan of simmering water, taking care not to let the bowl come into contact with the water.
- Once the chocolate has melted, take the bowl off the heat.
- Stir in the sour cream, vanilla extract and golden syrup.
- Whisk the icing sugar (powdered sugar) into the chocolate mixture.
- The frosting should be thick enough to cover the cake, but soft enough to spread easily.
- Frost the cake as per the photo with a tall layer of frosting, or cover all sides of the cake completely with the frosting – however you like.
- Leave the cake to set for at least a few hours before serving.
As this is one of my go-to recipes for birthday cakes, I thought it would be helpful to also provide baking times when using different sized cake pans.
12 cm (5 inch) round cake pan
Fill the pan with batter to about 2 cm from the top. You will have leftover batter from the recipe above. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
16 cm (6 inch) round cake pan
Fill the pan with batter to about 2 cm from the top. You will have leftover batter from the recipe above. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
20 cm (8 inch) round cake pan
The above recipe can be used to fill two cake pans of this size. Fill the pans with batter to about 2 cm from the top. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
23 cm (9 inch) round cake pan
The above recipe can be used to fill one cake pan of this size. To make a double-layer cake, double the above recipe and use two pans of this size. Fill the pan with batter to about 2 cm from the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
26 cm (10 inch) round cake pan
The above recipe can be used to fill one cake pan of this size. To make a double-layer cake, double the above recipe and use two pans of this size. Fill the pan with batter. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
HOW TO MAKE CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES
* Line a 12 hole muffin pan (or 24 hole mini muffin pan) with muffin cases/muffin wrappers.
* Evenly divide the batter between the muffin cases.
* Use a small off-set spatula to gently spread and flatten the batter in the muffin cases.
* For regular cupcakes, bake for 15-20 minutes at 180°C (350°F) (without fan), or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
* For mini cupcakes, bake for 12-15 minutes at 180°C (350°F) (without fan), or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
* Remove the cupcakes from the oven and let them cool completely on a wire rack.
The cake keeps well for several days on a covered cake stand.
OVEN TEMPERATURES All recipes on this website state temperatures for a regular oven (i.e. a conventional oven without fan). If you have a convection oven with a fan, please consult the manufacturer’s handbook on how to adjust the temperature and baking time accordingly.
CONVERSIONS To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.
- Serving Size: Nutritional info per slice
- Calories: 529
- Sugar: 43.5g
- Sodium: 325.3mg
- Fat: 30.5g
- Carbohydrates: 61.2g
- Fiber: 2.3g
- Protein: 5.6g
- Cholesterol: 94.8mg
This recipe was first published on 9 March 2017. It has been updated with newer photos and more comprehensive recipe notes.
My goodness, this looks delicious. I especially want to dive right into that frosting! And your daughter’s cake looks adorable – just the right size for a group of little ones. I hope she had a lovely birthday!
Thanks, Monica! She had a lovely time celebrating her birthday for the third time in 2 weeks 😉
Fancy cakes are great but nothing beats a slice of good honest simple cake with minimal decoration – let those flavours shine. This chocolate cake looks heavenly and I would definitely say yes to a slice.
Thanks, Lucy! I love fancy cakes but my decorating skills are a bit embarrassing. So plain and simple cakes are more my forte 🙂
Yumm. You can never have too much chocolate cake. And your daughters birthday cake is so cute..I’m sure she must have loved that 🙂
Thanks, Stephanie! My children actually decorated the cake on the actual birthday, and this cake was based on what they had done – marzipan flowers with sprinkles. I think they have good taste 😉
Love those sweet little flowers on her cake! You can never go wrong with chocolate cake! And that frosting…
I’m terrible at piping so shop-bought marzipan flowers are a lifesaver 🙂
So pretty! Looks delicious.
Thank you 🙂
Ooh!! This cake looks so delicious!!
No one would refuse this delicious cake, and it´s my experience that kids go for the chocolate more than anything else – chocolate beats butterflies! The little flowers look adorable!
Thanks, Sabine! I was hesitant to make a chocolate cake for the daycare – the poor workers who have to later deal with the children on a sugar-rush! But I wanted the children to enjoy the cake, and they only had small pieces, so I don’t feel so bad 🙂
What a delicious looking cake! And I love the nod of the head to Bea’s styling!
Thanks, Amanda! I was channelling Donna Hay in this shoot, but I can see how the colours are reminiscent of Bea, who is also a great inspiration 🙂
I made this today, just because it was Sunday afternoon & I felt like some cake – so good!
I didn’t make any icing though, I’ll have to try that next time 🙂
I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe! If you enjoyed this cake without the icing, imagine with the icing 😉 But I love how you made it in a Bundt tin – it looked so beautiful!
wah!!! It is very amazing!!! On my friend’s Anniversary day we will recommend this cake to all our friends.
I am wondering what caster sugar and golden syrup are? Do they go by a different name? Thanks! Can’t wait to try this lovely cake.
If you are from the US, I believe “caster sugar” is superfine sugar, although you can use regular granulated sugar if that is all you have. As for “golden syrup”, light corn syrup can be used as a substitute, although the flavour is slightly different. Hope this helps!
This recipe look decadent. I accidentally bought 2 tubs of creme fraiche for my Thanksgiving canepe. I was pondering what I can make with the creme fraiche. Voila your recipe came up on my FB feed ????
I have 2 questions:
1. Will a 8×8 Square Pan work? How long should I bake it for?
2. only ingredient missing is golden syrup? Not sure what is it, melting sugar into golden color？or can I substitute with honey since is only 1 teaspoon?
Big fan of yours????
I have baked this recipe a few times in a 8 x 8 inch square cake tin but I can’t remember how long it took. I need to remember to take notes for this! I would estimate a baking time of at least 30 minutes, and start checking every 5 minutes from there. I think you would not need more than 40 minutes for this cake tin size.
A common substitute for golden syrup is light corn syrup, but the taste of these two ingredients is quite different from each other. The golden syrup is used to lightly sweeten the frosting. I like to use only a small amount, but I actually think you could leave it out entirely and the frosting will still taste great 🙂
Easy, peasy lemon squeezy. This cake was delicious and as Thanh says; it’s fool-proof! I even substituted the golden syrup with honey and it was perfect. With any cake recipe – this one included – I always find I have a lot of icing left over so the extra chocolate icing was used to dip fruit in it, and it was quite nice!
Looks beautiful and tasty! Cannot wait to try this! Love!
Wow – this looks amazing and thanks for the different tin size tips. I wanted to swap the normal flour for spelt as I cannot eat wheat and want to enjoy this along with my 3 year old son (this will be his birthday cake). Are any changes needed to accommodate spelt flour as it does bake slightly differently.
Unfortunately, I’m not too familiar with substituting flour in cake recipes. However, I can recommend the following recipe if you are looking for a really delicious gluten-free chocolate cake recipe: https://eatlittlebird.com/sunken-chocolate-amaretto-cake-nigella-lawson/
You can leave out the amaretto and use 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract instead to make it child-friendly.
The following recipe is similar and also gluten-free: https://eatlittlebird.com/queen-of-sheba/
Please let me know how you get on 🙂
Hiya I’m wanting to do this in a 6″ by 3″ round cake tin so would it be the same as your 6″ round cake instructions? I only ask as some 6″ cake tins can be shorter than 3″ hope this makes sense. Thanks =)
That’s a good question! Cake tins can indeed vary in size. I also have a 6″ x 3″ round cake tin. I generally fill the cake tins until about 2 cm (1 inch) from the top, so that they don’t overflow upon baking. Hope this helps!
Made this cake 4-5 times every time a success. A really good chocolate cake for true chocolate lovers. Would recommend
That’s so wonderful to hear that you have made this chocolate cake so often, and with success each time! For my family, no celebration is complete without this easy chocolate cake, and they have even started to ask for it at other times too, just because nothing can beat a good chocolate cake 🙂
Looks delicious making this weekend! Can I make a yellow cake using these ingredients and substituting cocoa for flour?
Sorry, I’ve never tried this recipe by turning it into a yellow cake. But I hope to publish a recipe for yellow cake (or sponge cake) very soon 🙂
This recipe was a huge success. I took it to a pot luck and it was gone within minutes. The only issue I had with it was the batter was too thick for my food processor, I had to move it all over to my kitchenaid to finish the mixing. As well, next time I would half the icing recipe (Which was DELICIOUS), since I still have a lot left over.
Thank you for your feedback! The batter is indeed quite thick, but you can always thin it with a dash of milk if you think it is too thick. I find that if my butter is not completely at room temperature (i.e. if it is still a bit firm or cold), it can cause the batter to be thicker than it should be. But the cake should still work out great 🙂 So glad you enjoyed this cake!
I will be making this cake. I was looking to make 2 cakes which the amount your batter will make will be enough for 2 of my round tins. However I wanted to make 1 chocolate and 1 vanilla. Do you know if this cake tastes nice as a vanilla cake once taking out the chocolate cocoa ingredient?
I can confirm that this recipe works very well as a vanilla cake 😊 I’ve made it several times as you have described – I leave out the cocoa powder and substitute with the same quantity of plain flour. I will be posting a vanilla cake recipe shortly which is essentially this one. Hope you will enjoy the recipe!
Fantastic recipe! I made this for my son’s birthday, also used the food processor for both the cake batter and icing. Best chocolate cake I had ever tasted and the kids obviously loved it too.
Amazing recipe! I was doubtful about putting everything into the food processor but the cake was soft and tender, and the taste was 10/10.
Thank you for this wonderful recipe. I followed your instructions to make chocolate cupcakes – due to Covid rules, each child has to have an individual cake! These were perfect.
This has been my go to recipe for chocolate cake for several years now. We love it so much!