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.
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 fraîche
- 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 fraîche
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- 300 g (2 1/4 cups) icing sugar (powdered sugar), sifted
Make sure all of the ingredients are at room temperature before starting.
To make the chocolate cake
- 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. If you have an induction stove, you can melt the chocolate and butter directly in a saucepan over low heat.
- Once the chocolate has melted, take the bowl off the heat.
- Stir in the sour cream and vanilla extract.
- 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.
The cake keeps well for several days on a covered cake stand.
OVEN & STOVE TEMPERATURES
All recipes on this website have been tested on an induction stove and/or with a conventional oven (i.e. an oven without fan). All recipes on this website state temperatures for a conventional oven, unless otherwise mentioned. If you have a convection oven (i.e. an 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.