Guest Post: Mum’s Chocolate Birthday Cake

This is a guest post about my birthday cake by my Mamma, enjoy :)

I started making birthday cakes for Emily and her younger sister when they were toddlers, and after spending much time and anguish over a fairy castle cake when she was three, I decided for the following year to settle for something much less stressful and time consuming, especially as I have to make two birthday cakes, as Olivia (her sister) has her birthday just the day before. I hit upon a style of birthday cake which is simple, but that Emily and her sister came to like better than anything else – it’s become a family tradition to have a birthday cake differentiated only by their age in smarties on the top! So for many years these cakes have become something that the girls expect and that I love to make.

I prided myself on having hit upon a great formula until I was dismayed to hear that Olivia jokingly declared my recipe ‘too dry’ and unappealing, as I trawled through various recipes on the internet trying to hide my hurt and shame, I came upon Nigella Lawson’s recipe for Devil’s Food Cake, and I decided to make this recipe instead, disguising the change with the same topping I had used for years in place of the fudge icing that Nigella had as part of her recipe. So the birthday came and the moment of truth arrived when Olivia cut into the cake and tried the first piece; I awaited the verdict nervously, not knowing how I would hide further hurt and shame if she told me again that I really shouldn’t have bothered! But I was delighted to see the simple nod of approval, which meant that all had been redeemed, and this recipe will replace the previous one for at least the next 20 years :)

I know that Emily’s blog is all about vegan food, and while this recipe is obviously vegetarian, tradition couldn’t be compromised in making it vegan! I hope you don’t mind, but you may also decide to make it for your non-vegan friends, and like me, enjoy their enjoyment!

Birthday Cake


50g of best-quality cocoa powder, sifted

100g of dark muscovado sugar

250ml of boiling water

125g of soft unsalted butter, plus some for greasing

150g of caster sugar

225g of plain flour

½ tsp of baking powder

½ tsp of bicarbonate of soda

2 tsp of vanilla extract

2 of free-range eggs

Strawberry jam, dark chocolate and smarties to fill and decorate


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Line the bottoms of two 20cm/8in sandwich tins with baking parchment and butter the sides.
  2. Put the cocoa and the dark muscovado sugar into a large bowl and pour in the boiling water. Whisk to mix, then set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and caster sugar together in a separate bowl, beating well until pale and fluffy.
  4. Stir the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda together in another bowl and set aside for a moment.
  5. Dribble the vanilla extract into the creamed butter and sugar – mixing all the while – then crack in one egg, quickly followed by a scoop of the flour mixture, then the second egg. Keep mixing after each addition.
  6. Incorporate the rest of the flour mixture little by little, then finally mix and fold in the cocoa mixture, scraping the bowl well with a spatula.
  7. Divide this fabulously chocolatey batter between the two prepared tins and put in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Take the tins out and leave them on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes, then turn the cakes out and set aside to cool.
  8. Once cool, sandwich together with jam, top with melted dark chocolate, and decorate with smarties.

Makes one large cake

P.S. This is Emily again, please enter my competition in aid of Beat to win some yummy vegan prizes:


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