English Chocolate Cake

Chocolate cream cake

When I think of a typical English chocolate cake, I think of a chocolate Victoria sponge. This type of cake is easy to make and can be presented in so many different ways.

Victoria sponge is more dense than the sponge used in typical cupcakes. Cupcakes are often made using a lighter sponge where the topping takes the centre stage. Victoria sponge cake is a very easy cake to make that has a good flavour and holds together well.

This recipe is the same as the recipe I used to make as a child. I loved baking even then - and my mother was always very patient with my fiesty temper if things didn't quite go according to plan.... It's easy to remember with the equal quantities of flour, sugar and butter. I do often reduce the sugar in this cake, and it's still perfectly delicious. You can reduce the sugar by almost a quarter with no harm done. If you're using a rich or very sweet topping or filling, this is most certainly a good idea.

We prefer to make the cake with butter.

You can use margarine. You get a fluffier and lighter sponge this way, but we love the taste of butter and anyway, I don't quite trust margarine. How healthy is it? One could ask how healthy cake is, I suppose. But they're all honest ingredients, and a full afternoon tea is a treat after all!

If using straight from the fridge, I chop the butter into small pieces in a glass bowl and put it into the oven for 3 minutes when I first turn on the oven. This softens the butter without fully melting it. When you take it out of the oven, beat it vigorously until it is all properly soft. If the butter does melt, don't worry too much. The cake will still taste great. But it's better for the consistency to be soft but not melted.

You can make an English chocolate cake very individual by using different fillings and toppings

My personal favourite filling is whipped cream and fresh strawberries with a simple dusting of icing (powdered) sugar on the top.

When I was young, there was a fantastic baker in our town who made the most delicious English chocolate cream cakes that I have ever tasted. He was called Michael Brown and his cakes were presented with strawberry jam and whipped cream as a filling with a simple dusting of icing sugar on the top. When I was 18, he brought a large one of these cakes round to the door, still wearing his chef's hat! It was the best birthday cake I can remember.

Other delicious fillings are butter cream or chocolate butter cream, mousseline or chocolate ganache, just for examples. Other toppings could include chocolate ganache, fluffy vanilla frosting or butter cream. Really, the possibilities are endless.....

It's well worth using good quality chocolate.

Cocoa powder varies in chocolateyness hugely. We love to get the Green and Blacks organic cocoa powder, but it is expensive. We often buy cheap cocoa powder, but throw in a handful of chocolate chips to the mixture which melt and make the cake extra special.

Level: Easy
Time: 1 1/2 hour (including cooling time)
Servings: 8 generous slices, or 12 small

225g (1 1/4 cups) plain flour
pinch salt
1 slightly rounded tsp baking soda
1 slightly rounded tsp baking powder

225g (1 1/2 cups) self-raising flour

225g (one cup) soft butter
225g (scant 1 1/4 cup) caster or fine sugar
4 eggs
25g (1/4 cup) cocoa powder (dutch processed)

Two 8 inch cake tins
We have found that it is better to cook this cake in two tins. You can make it in one deep tin, but we find it tends to sag in the middle. Still tastes good though!

Chocolate cream cake slice
  • Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3, 325F.

  • Grease the inside of the tins thoroughly with butter, and then line the base of the two tins with a circle of greaseproof paper (baking parchment).

  • Cream the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy and slightly paler in colour.

  • Beat the eggs in a jug and add to the mixture a little at a time, beating between each addition. If the mixture curdles (is not smooth, but stays separated), don't worry. It really doesn't seem to make any difference.

  • Sift the cocoa powder and the flour, and fold in gently using a metal spoon.

  • If you would like to add a handful of chocolate chips (dark, milk or white), this is the time to do that.

  • Check the consistency. It should drop easily from the spoon. If it is too stiff and does not fall off easily, add a splash of milk or warm water until it is at dropping consistency.

  • Divide equally between the two tins, smoothing it to the edges gently and bake in the centre of the oven for 35 minutes.

  • Gently press the top of the cake with your finger. If it is done, then the sponge will spring gently back. If your finger leaves a slight depression, then the cake needs a little longer. Sponge cakes are best when they are just done, so if your cake needs longer, but is nearly done, give it just 2 minutes at a time.

  • Remove the English chocolate cake from the oven when it is done and allow it to cool for five minutes.

  • Remove the cake from the tin and leave on a wire rack to cool, covered with a tea towel.

  • Place one half of the cake upside down on the serving dish and spread the top with your chosen filling.

  • Place the other half of the cake on top of it, and then top with your chosen topping.

Your English Chocolate Cake is now ready and should be served ideally on the same day. If you are not eating it very soon, keep it in a cake tin to keep it fresh, or cover it with a tea towel at least.

Serve with

Chocolate cream cake and chocolate eclairs

English chocolate cake tastes especially nice with darjeeling tea and I love it with either rooibos or mint tea.

As part of a tea spread, try serving it with chocolate eclairs (seen here filled with chocolate cream) and a selection of finger sandwiches. A nice combination would be cucumber, ham and egg mayonnaise.

If you have a number of guests, you could add shortbread cookies, fresh strawberries and English tea scones for a very pretty and traditional afternoon tea spread.

If you Enjoyed English Chocolate Cake was delicious, you might be Wowed by our White Chocolate Raspberry Cake!