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Being born in April, one’s mind can’t help but turn, cur­rently, to thoughts of cake.

Actu­ally, my mind turns to thoughts of cake most days of the year. For those of you who aren’t April babies, there’s still a gen­er­al sweet-tooth mood in the air with the pres­ence of East­er eggs — which have inev­it­ably been advert­ised since the minute Christ­mas was out of the way (not that I can really blame any­one for want­ing to raise aware­ness of the import­ance of chocolate).

Whatever the occa­sion, mood or month, a reli­able, use­ful chocol­ate cake is an advant­age, and this hap­pens to be my choice. It’s an amal­gam­a­tion of many oth­er recipes I’ve tried, and the par­tic­u­lar dark mix of cof­fee and plenty of cocoa makes for a rich, moist cake full of def­in­ite, abso­lute chocol­ate flavour.

The vanilla paste in the ganache gives a heady hit of lush fra­grance, and there’s no reas­on why you can’t use it instead of extract in the cake bat­ter itself. So long as you use decent cocoa and chocol­ate, this cake will be excel­lent. Also, accord­ing Dolly, our won­der­ful pho­to­graph­er, coconut flour (with an adjust­ment in liquid) and coconut sug­ar can be sub­sti­tuted in very successfully.


Simple chocolate cake with vanilla milk chocolate ganache



  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup good-qual­ity cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp bak­ing powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 125g but­ter, melted
  • 3 tbsp golden syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tsp bak­ing soda
  • ½ cup strong black cof­fee, cooled
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g milk chocolate
  • 20g but­ter
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste



  1. Set your oven to 180˚C, and grease and line a 20cm or 21cm spring­form cake tin with bak­ing paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix togeth­er the flour, cocoa, bak­ing powder and sugar.
  3. Tip in the but­ter, the golden syr­up and the eggs, and give it a quick stir.
  4. Mix the milk and the bak­ing soda togeth­er in a small bowl, then add this to the cake mix­ture along with the cof­fee and vanilla.
  5. Mix the bat­ter briskly for a few minutes with a wooden spoon or sturdy whisk until everything is smooth and thor­oughly incorporated.
  6. Using a spat­ula, pour the mix­ture into the cake tin, then bake for around 50 minutes. Depend­ing on your oven, it may be ready soon­er or need longer.
  7. Once the cake has thor­oughly cooled, gently melt the milk chocol­ate and but­ter togeth­er, and stir in the vanilla paste.
  8. Spread this chocol­atey mix­ture evenly over the cake using the flat edge of a knife.


Serves 4–8 (depend­ing on the size of your slices).