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te kuiti chocolate cake - the best ever

Updated: Nov 14, 2020

I'm often asked for my favourite, most versatile, never-fail chocolate cake recipe. This one always wins. It was given to me by my sister’s sister-in-law and with her blessing, is being shared on my blog as ‘te kuiti chocolate cake’. I use it for EVERYTHING. It’s perfect for layering and sculpting and is incredibly moist at the same time. I just adore it. I've seen similar recipes - I've tried several of my favourite cooking writers' and bloggers' similar fudgy chocolate cake recipes, but they've never quite matched this one for my purposes! I've also included my buttercream recipe and the video tutorial for layering your cake is here.

Makes one round deep cake, 23-25cm in diameter. Double the recipe for a 20cm tall stacked cake, bake in two 20cm deep, round tins.


1 cup/250mL strong coffee (I use a double espresso topped up with water - decaf if it's for children)

½ cup/125mL neutral oil (I use sunflower)

1 cup/250mL milk

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 cups/390g sugar

¾ cup/75g cocoa

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1¾ cups/220g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder


Grease and line (including high sides in case it rises above the tin) the cake tin and preheat the oven to 180°C (160-170° fan depending on how hot your oven is). Place the oven rack in the lower half of the oven.

In a large bowl, beat together the coffee, oil, milk, baking soda, salt, sugar and cocoa. Allow the mixture to cool if you've used hot coffee. Beat in the eggs. Sift the flour and baking powder together and mix well in to the batter. It is quite a runny one!

Pour that glistening batter in to your prepared tin or tins and bake for 45 mins to an hour, depending on your tin or oven! The cakes will also take longer the deeper they are, of course. The cake is done when a skewer comes out with just a few crumbs and no raw batter. Cool in the tin until it's nearly room temperature and you feel safe to turn it out. I always use loose-bottomed tins but if I don't have them, I make sure my paper lining is able to form a 'sling'.


Makes 500g, enough to fill and crumb coat one 20cm cake (or 24 cupcakes), so I usually double it as my cakes are generally quite deep!


175g unsalted butter, at room temperature

350g icing sugar, sifted

2 Tbsp cooled boiled water or milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

(for chocolate buttercream, add 3 Tbsps Cocoa)

In a mixer or food processor, or with hand-held electric beater, mix the butter and icing sugar, milk and vanilla (and cocoa, if using) together for at least 5 minutes until light and fluffy. You can store this for up to a week in an airtight container, but bring it to room temperature before attempting to use! You can also add a pinch of cream of tartar if your buttercream is refusing to firm up - especially in summer!

This cake works beautifully for sculpting, and also for making an edible sculpting paste. If you're modelling anything on your cake, use a food processor to blitz spare cake trimmings from cutting in to layers (it usually has a bit of a domed top) in to crumbs along with leftover buttercream. It is BRILLIANT for sculpted cakes.

Print Version:

Chocolate Cake Recipe - Printable Versio
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