Baking Through The Book, Love Lies & Lemon Pies

Baking Through The Book: Birthday Cake

In truth, this is quite simply the best chocolate cake in the world ever – as voted for by my five year old daughter. It’s the cake and frosting my mum makes for every birthday party (and, given the size of our extended family, we have a lot of those) and there’s rarely ever any left. It is delicious, and has been known to be the only substance capable of getting me through really tough deadlines. I recommend it for whenever you’re having one of those days that can only be improved by the addition of chocolate AND cake.

Birthday Cake


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For the frosting:

  •  75g granulated sugar
  • 95ml evaporated milk
  • 100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 40g butter, cubed
  • 2 drops vanilla extract

For the cake:

  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 175g self raising flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 1tsp baking powder


Because of the time it takes to chill, I tend to make the frosting first. Here’s how:

Combine the sugar and evaporated milk in a heavy saucepan over a low heat, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved.

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Bring to the boil and simmer gently for exactly 6 minutes without stirring.

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Take the pan off the heat and stir in the chocolate until it has all melted.

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Stir in the butter and vanilla until smooth.

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Transfer to a bowl, cool and cover with cling film.

Chill for a couple of hours while you get on with your cake.


The cake is basically just a Victoria Sponge with 25g of cocoa substituted for the same amount of flour. Here’s what you do:

Preheat the oven to 180°C / fan 160°C / gas mark 4

Take 2 20cm sandwich tins and some greaseproof paper or baking parchment. Draw around the bottom of each tin onto the paper and cut out the circles. Pop the circles in the bottom of the tins then rub some butter or vegetable oil over them, making sure you grease all the way up the sides of the tins too. This will make sure your cakes don’t stick to the tins.

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Cream together the butter and caster sugar with a wooden spoon or mixer.

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In another bowl, lightly beat the eggs and vanilla extract together.

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Slowly add the egg mixture to the butter and sugar, beating well after each addition to make sure it’s all properly mixed together.

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Sift in the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder, then fold through the mixture until it’s all combined.

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Spoon the mixture equally into the tins and spread to the edge. To make sure your cakes come out exactly even, you can weigh the tins to make sure they’re the same and even them out.

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Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.

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Let them cool in their tins for ten minutes, then tip them out onto a rack to finish cooling. Don’t forget to peel the greaseproof paper off the bottoms!

Once the cakes are cool, take out your frosting. If it’s gone too hard to spread, just add a little hot water and stir through until the frosting is smooth. Spread half between the cakes and top with the other half.

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Then you can decorate, add candles, or just eat and enjoy!

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