the allure of old fashioned chocolate


It was the photo above, posted barely an hour after baking, that sparked off quite a bit of interest within my little Twitter circle. I received requests for the recipe, any extra slices lying around, and even a pact that I’d eat another slice for breakfast the next morning in exchange for another baker eating a second portion of what she had in the oven that day. Attention on the cake didn’t even wane the next morning as the mother casually commented about the slice(s) she finished off, leaving none for the next day.

I found interest in the cake not the least surprising because you see, the reason I baked it was really an aftermath of being smitten myself. Its classic simple appearance, the soft fluffy texture, the unadulterated rich chocolate flavour, and the oh-to-die-for frosting;– the cake had been on my mind ever since I tasted a slice at the niece’s 2nd birthday party.


I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I’m guilty of bookmarking more recipes than I could possibly bake, and I concomitantly forget some of these bookmarks. Well, this was one of those instances. I had noted this recipe from Nigella a couple of months back, but only got reminded of it when I asked my sister for the recipe source of that beautiful two-layered chocolate birthday cake you see above. (Aside: Don’t you think she did a wonderful job with the cake?)


However, as much as I wanted to recreate the cake, I had to take into account that I’m in a 5-person household, of which only two of its members (current company included) are chocolate fans, and the thought of a fully frosted two-layered chocolate cake might be much too daunting for the rest. It was then that I remembered reading that a layered cake recipe (preferably 2 round 8-9 inch pans) makes for a great bundt cake.

And a frosted chocolate bundt cake is less intimidating than a two-layered frosted-outside-and-inside chocolate cake, no?

Lucky for me, the answer is evidently yes, as the non-chocolate-loving mother confessed to finishing off 3 slices.


Old Fashioned Chocolate Bundt Cake
(adapted from Nigella’s Feast)

200g + 2 tbsp cake flour¹
200g sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
40g cocoa powder
175g butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
150ml sour cream

For the icing:
25g butter
60g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
100g icing sugar²
2 tsp golden syrup
40ml sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

  1. Preheat the oven to180°C and grease a bundt pan.
  2. Beat all the cake ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder and bicarb, cocoa, butter, eggs, vanilla and sour cream) together, using a mixer or food processor, until the batter is smooth and thick.
  3. Scrape and spread the batter into the prepared bundt pan, and bake at 180C for 25 – 35 mins, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  4. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, in the pan. Place the rack, upside down, on the top of the pan (the open end) and carefully invert the cake onto the rack.
  5. To make this icing, melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave or over a pan of simmering water. Set aside to cool for a bit.
  6. In another bowl, sieve the icing sugar.
  7. Add the golden syrup to the cooled chocolate mixture, followed by the sour cream and vanilla.
  8. Whisk in the sieved icing sugar until there are no traces of icing sugar.
  9. At this point, you’ll have a fairly thick icing, and you may need to add a little boiling water (1 – 2 tsp) depending on whether you want the icing to be runny or thick. It should be liquid enough to coat easily, but thick enough not to drip off.
  10. Frost the cooled cake with your chocolate icing, and be prepared to be dreaming of it in days to come.

Recipe Notes

¹ If using plain flour, just use 200 grams.
² I found that the icing is a tad too sweet (but still divine nonetheless!!!), so I applied only a thin layer of frosting. You may wish to use 80g icing sugar first, and if it’s not sweet enough, add in the remaining 20g.

reheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C and line and butter two 20cm sandwich tins with removable bases.
3. Now all you have to do is put all the cake ingredients – flour, sugar, baking powder and bicarb, cocoa, butter, eggs, vanilla and sour cream – into a food processor
4. and process until you have a smooth, thick batter. If you want to go the long way around, just mix the flour, sugar and leavening agents in a large bowl and beat in the soft butter until you have a combined and creamy mixture. Now whisk together the cocoa, sour cream, vanilla and eggs and beat this into your bowl of mixture.
5. Divide this batter, using a rubber spatula to help you scrape and spread, into the prepared tins and bake until a cake tester, or a thin skewer, comes out clean, which should be about 35 minutes, but it is wise to start checking at 25. Also, it might make sense to switch the two cakes around in the oven halfway through cooking time.
6. Remove the cakes, in their tins, to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes before turning out of their tins. Don’t worry about any cracks as they will easily be covered by the icing later.
7. To make this icing, melt the butter and chocolate in a good-sized bowl either in the microwave or suspended over a pan of simmering water. Go slowly either way: you don’t want any burning or seizing.
8. While the chocolate and butter are cooling a little, sieve the icing sugar into another bowl. Or, easier still, put the icing sugar into the food processor and blitz. This is by far and away the least tedious way of removing lumps.
9. Add the golden syrup to the cooled chocolate mixture, followed by the sour cream and vanilla and then when all this is combined whisk in the sieved icing sugar. Or just pour this mixture down the funnel of the food processor on to the icing sugar, with the motor running.
10. When you’ve done, you may need to add a little boiling water – say a teaspoon or so – or indeed some more icing sugar: it depends on whether you need the icing to be runnier or thicker; or indeed it may be right as it is. It should be liquid enough to coat easily, but thick enough not to drip off.
11. Choose your cake stand or plate and cut out four strips of baking parchment to form a square outline on it (this stops the icing running on to the plate). Then sit one of the cakes, uppermost (ie slightly domed) side down.
12. Spoon about a third of the icing on to the centre of the cake half and spread with a knife or spatula until you cover the top of it evenly. Sit the other cake on top, normal way up, pressing gently to sandwich the two together.
13. Spoon another third of the icing on to the top of the cake and spread it in a swirly, textured way (though you can go for a smooth finish if you prefer, and have the patience). Spread the sides of the cake with the remaining icing and leave a few minutes till set, then carefully pull away the paper strips.
14. I love to dot the top of this with sugar pansies – and you must admit, they do look enchanting – but there really is no need to make a shopping expedition out of it. Anything, or indeed nothing, will do.

28 thoughts on “the allure of old fashioned chocolate

  1. the mister

    Ooooooh… that looks veh good!

    I see the glimmer in Fitfit’s eyes as she silently thinks, “I’m gonna getcha soon, cake! Watch out…” 😛

  2. grace

    i’ll be honest–normally i find such a thin layer of frosting to be insulting, but in the case of this rich and deeply chocolate cake, i’ll let it slide. 🙂

  3. nino

    Thanks for sharing the recipe so that we don’t have to get her book (but looking at it now,I wouldn’t mind getting it when payday comes.hehe). That looks truly decadent! Gimmee gimme gimmee….

  4. ovenhaven Post author

    Julie: Thanks, Julie! It tastes pretty amazing too. Hope you’ll give it a go!

    grace: Haha, if it makes you feel better, after that last shot was taken, I took a dollop of the icing and placed it on the side of the plate for good measure 😛

    nino: You definitely should get that book! It’s one of the few books that I literally felt like bringing every page to the plate 😛

  5. zurin

    oh no u make me want to make this…bad bad……Im surprised its nigella’s recipe….ive heard/read reviews of some of her cake recipes being quite not up to mark…maybe they were wrong after all…must try must try…thanx…adorable niece btw ! :))

  6. ovenhaven Post author

    Lorraine: Thank you! Not as amazing as your cameo cookies, I must say 🙂

    zurin: Thanks, dearie! Yup, I’ve heard the same. I guess I’ve had better luck with her cake recipes 😛 Oh, and you must give this a go! The link to the original two-layered cake is in the entry.

  7. The Little Teochew

    Dark and decadent! Love it. Is this the same cake which can be viewed on youtube? It goes by the same name. If yes, I have been wanting to bake this cake for the longest time, except sour cream has always held me back. Nigella decorated it with some pretty flowers 🙂 I should give this a go, now that you’ve made it and gave it the thumbs up 😉 The chocolate frosting is superb. Glossy and glistening. Way to go, Z!

    PS: I want to cuddle that birthday cutie! And oh, BOTH cakes look fabulous!

  8. ovenhaven Post author

    sara: It sure was decadent! Thanks for dropping by 🙂

    The Little Teochew:Awww thanks, dearie! My sister would be so pleased to hear that 🙂 And yup, I youtube-ed it, and it’s the same one. If you prefer metric (coz it’s been said that her recipes work better in metric!), just click on the link to her site that I’ve provided in my entry. You should definitely give it a go!

  9. ovenhaven Post author

    ingrid: Hope you’re enjoying your weekend! And who knows, maybe you’ll be a chocoholic after this cake! 😛

    jean-marie: Thanks, doll! Sinful it sure was 😛

  10. thecoffeesnob

    Ooh, this looks SO good! I would beg you for a slice if not for the amazing chocolate cake I have sitting in my fridge, courtesy of my best friend 🙂

    By the way, your niece is just adorable!


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