Donna Hay's Our Ultimate Chocolate Layer Cake

>> Wednesday, February 15, 2012

It occurred to me the other day how sentimental I can be.  It's not so much that I keep and refuse to part with 'old' things (to some extent, yes), but I do find pleasure in saving things up.

As a child, I used to save the best bits on my plate till last while others around me dig straight into them first...and must confess that I still do e.g. eating the egg whites before the yolks, saving that piece of tender fish cheek (do you do that too?). But I've learnt in the company of certain greedy food-snatching people, it is safer to eat the best bits first ;)

There are certain things in my life which must be done in a certain way or order. And I definitely don't mean in an OCD kind of way. I just think there is a time or season for everything. And we shouldn't skip that warm up or jump to the end of that really good book.

Well this cake was definitely saved to the end of Hawaiian hens party we threw for my sister this past weekend. Yes, it's that cake in the photo above with the orange lily! But it wasn't intentional and was simply left untouched because, well, there was just way too much food! What a shame that we weren't even close to finishing half of the food prepared. To some extent, I was relieved because I wasn't confident at all about how the cake would taste as I am not much of a layered cake with icing type of baker.

So I put the cake back into the fridge after the guests left, unsure what to do with it (eating it all myself did occurr to me but thankfully I had more sense than to listen to that gluttonous voice.) One thing I do dread the most is having leftovers.

Thankfully the next day, all I saw was the last piece of it. Yes, just that piece you see in the photo. The lone orphan of a piece. Turned out my sister took the rest of it to church that day!

So, I systematically turned on the music, made myself some black tea and and curled up on the couch with a plate on my hand.

That's the only way I know to savour that last piece.

p.s. the cake was addictively delicious with the layers of not-too-sweet cream cheese icing (I did adjust the amount)! Keep watch on the oven time for the chocolate cake to make sure it doesn't dry out too much, as I would've preferred the cake just slightly more moist.

p.p.s. I actually halved the cake recipe - the recipe is meant for a 6-layer chocolate cake! That would've been even prettier!

Our Ultimate Chocolate Layer Cake
Donna Hay Magazine Nov 2011 & Channel 7 Sunrise
N.B. I halved the recipe to make it 3 layer chocolate cake.
  • ¾ cup (75g) Dutch cocoa, sifted
  • ¾ cup (180ml) hot water
  • ¾ cup (180g) sour cream
  • 350g butter, softened
  • 2 ¼ cups (495g) caster (superfine) sugar (I reduced it almost half)
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups (450g) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of (baking) soda
  • cream cheese icing
  • 270g butter, softened
  • 1.5kg cream cheese, softened
  • 3 cups (480g) icing (confectioner’s) sugar mixture, sifted (I reduced it - so instead of the 240g I would use for my half portion, I used < 200g)


1. Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Place the cocoa and hot water in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the sour cream and whisk to combine.

2. Place the butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 4 minutes or until pale and creamy. Gradually add the eggs and beat well to combine. Set the mixer to low speed, add the cocoa mixture, flour and bicarbonate of soda and beat until well combined.

3. Divide the mixture between 2 x 20cm-round lightly greased cake tins lined with non-stick baking paper.

4. Bake for 50–55 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Allow cakes to cool in tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Trim the tops from the cakes to create a flat surface. Slice each cake evenly into 3 horizontal slices.

While the cakes are baking, make the cream cheese icing.

5. Place half the butter and cream cheese in an electric mixer and beat for 8–10 minutes or until pale and creamy. Add half the icing sugar mixture and beat for a further 8–10 minutes or until pale and fluffy. Repeat with remaining butter, cream cheese and sugar. Using a palette knife, spread 1 cake layer with cream cheese icing and top with another cake layer.

6. Repeat with remaining layers and more icing, reserving enough icing for the sides and top of the cake. Spread the sides and top of the cake with the remaining icing.

Serves 6–8. Tip: Use a palette knife to ‘drag’ the icing up the sides of the cake for a smooth finish.

Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day! :)

I've always loved reading this story. Good reminder that love isn’t worthy of the name if we aren’t willing to share it with everyone.


Tracy February 15, 2012 at 3:42 PM  

I made this cake for my daughter's birthday last year. It definitely requires a crowd, it is so rich.

Jeannie February 15, 2012 at 4:37 PM  

WOw! you frost it really well and your layers are so even! Sounds delicious and sinful!

Priyanka February 15, 2012 at 10:39 PM  

The name is perfect for the cake... you have created it so beautifully and with so much precision. Its to die for, i wanna grab the slice right off the screen :)

Ah Tze February 16, 2012 at 2:00 AM  

first time here, you have a lovely blog!

Erika Beth, the Messy Chef February 16, 2012 at 4:22 AM  

Ha! How funny that most of the cake was taken before you got to it after all. Glad your sis left you a slice. It looks yummy!

Nami | Just One Cookbook February 16, 2012 at 4:39 AM  

I enjoyed your story. I love writing style. I can't believe this was supposed to be 6 layers... that's going to be one big tall cake! I won't be able to make this kind of layer cake because I know I'll probably fail during the process of slicing the sponge... you are so detailed and you made it beautifully! And so many gorgeous food on the table!

Tina @ bitemeshowme February 16, 2012 at 8:11 AM  

This looks devine! You did such a good job at slicing the cake into 3 and icing it! I love it!

Renee February 16, 2012 at 1:59 PM  

What a great-looking party! All of that amazing food. You did good on the cake - looks perfectly dreamy.

Yi @ Yi Reservation February 16, 2012 at 2:16 PM  

How beautiful is this chocolate layer cake!! I wonder how you cut the cake so nicely? I have a wire cake slicer but I can never cut my cakes evenly like yours.

Zoe February 16, 2012 at 4:04 PM  

This cake is a beauty! DH is always your fav and you make this cake so well!

Helen (Grab Your Fork) February 16, 2012 at 5:39 PM  

What a great hen's nite. I love how evenly sliced your layers are - mine always up a little wonky! lol

Shu Han February 17, 2012 at 10:10 AM  

that;s just gorgeous! the slicing, the layers, the icing. I could never do something so precise. thanks for sharing this, it's one great story too haha.

LDH February 17, 2012 at 11:26 AM  

What a lovely spread and the cake looked perfect as well. Sweet photos :) Happy you were able to enjoy the lone slice of cake!

So nice stopping by to visit with you!

Viv February 17, 2012 at 12:12 PM  

Tracy: Yes that's right! Even my half portion requires a big crowd!

Jeannie: Thanks! :) I'm actually terrible at frosting but the photo made it look alright ;)

Priyanka: Thanks for your kind word! There are many times I wish that dream of grabbing food off the screen would become reality ;)

Sonia: Thanks!

hanushi: thanks girl!

Ah Tze: So nice of you to visit and thank you! :)

Erika Beth: Yes, I'm actually glad I got to taste it but more glad I didn't have to worry about what ot do with it!

Nami: Thank you! I know...i think if i made full portion it would've been a disaster! But all in all, this cake was a breeze to make compared to say the pineapple upside down cake we've made!

Tina@bitemeshowme: Thanks :) Wasn't too hard slicing the cake actually if you have a serrated knife!

Simply Tia: Thank you!

Renee: Hehe...'dreamy'...nice word to describe a cake ;)

Yi Reservation: I used a serrated bread knife actually! Just gotta make sure you keep the knife flat and put your other hand on the cake as you move across! :)

Zoe: I am looking forward to our DH cookoff in March :D :D

Helen: Haha if you look closely they are not that evenly sliced :P

Shu Han: Haha not as precise as you think...and not as hard as you think too! I'm not much of a sliced cake/icing type of person but it was definitely fun making it!

LDH: Oh yes I savoured that last lone piece happily :) thank for visiting Lorraine :)

Maureen February 17, 2012 at 7:40 PM  

I have thought about making this cake and haven't done it but holy cow, I should have. I can't get over how beautifully neat your layers are.

I want to make a cake this good!

JasmyneTea February 18, 2012 at 6:14 PM  

Hot DAMN that is one sexy cake!

Ben @Focus:Snap:Eat February 22, 2012 at 6:41 AM  

Wow, you really did prepare a feast for your party! And I love the Spam musubi you had there, looked perfect! The cake looks great too, even before it was cut. If we could all learn the trick to make a cake turn from a whole one to one slice in the frig, we would all be eating cakes daily! :)

Vivian - vxdollface February 22, 2012 at 10:49 PM  

This is a beautiful cake made with love :) Congratulations to your sister!

jane @ Guard February 28, 2012 at 6:21 PM  

Wow! it really suit the name, its really looks ultimate chocolate cakes :) so yummy.
haha. i wan to try it. added to my list :p

Gladys February 29, 2012 at 2:28 PM  

nice cake . it look so good, i miss my kitchen at home. I feel bad for not doing some kitchen stuff coz im too busy at work. well have fun always :0

sugarpuffi February 29, 2012 at 5:50 PM  

thats an awesomely delicious cake!

Maria March 1, 2012 at 2:24 PM  

oh! im inlove with the cake :)
id will be happy if my boyfriends give me this cke for my upcoming birthday. oh well he dont care it that much.
but hell yeah for the cake!
so great!

Jema March 2, 2012 at 8:20 PM  

nice stuff. i really enjoy visiting your page.
i like your ultimate chocolate cake so interesting. looking forward for the next post dear :)

Mike March 6, 2012 at 7:46 PM  

lovely photos, nice ultimate cake ya have.
all foods is nice.

Jade March 7, 2012 at 7:33 PM  

wow! you always amaze me with your work, very impreissive

Xinmei @ Pudding Pie Lane March 7, 2012 at 9:24 PM  

Yummy! What a lovely party too, that colours and food look amazing. I agree - I always save the best bits till last too and eat that bit the slowest - it really annoys my friends but I feel so good after eating it! :-)
(Great photos too by the way!)

MrsGooding March 12, 2012 at 9:30 AM  

The red velvet cake looks so yummmmm! Must try this. I noticed your blog's URL is - does it mean you're based in New Zealand? Coz I am and I just started a food blog. Keen to meet other Kiwis!


monica March 14, 2012 at 7:43 PM  

it's wonderful I do really make it for a dinner next Friday, thank you for the recipe and I love you blog! Blessings. Mony

momto8 April 6, 2012 at 11:04 PM  

wonderful recipe and beautiful cake! yum...thanks you!
I am your newest follower..pls follow back if you can.

Jay April 17, 2012 at 3:01 PM  

lovely...true deliciousness..;)
proud following you
do stop by mine sometime
Tasty Appetite

Ola April 20, 2012 at 9:58 PM  

pretty One!
I also used to save best bites:)

Life and travelling

Winston May 5, 2012 at 10:21 PM  

Hi! I just stumbled upon this space and can I say that you are simply amazing! The cake looks flawless I'm sure it brought so much joy to all the people you shared it with. You're very talented and I look forward to reading more of your new (and old) posts. Foah! =)

Anonymous,  May 7, 2012 at 8:18 PM  

Come back to us Green Cilantro!

Yadsia @ShopCookMake May 22, 2012 at 7:59 AM  

I'm sure that eating the cake all by yourself would not have been sensible, but it would have been a very delicious stomach ache.

StarletStarlet May 25, 2012 at 9:29 AM  

If it were me, I would totally gave up on the gluttony voice....

Oh, you're good!

Long time no see, Viv =)

Zoe July 5, 2012 at 11:20 AM  

Hi Viv,

I have not hear from you for months! How are you? Have you been busy or baking? I miss reading your post and seeing your wonderful photos...


Ann,  August 4, 2012 at 8:48 AM  

beautiful cake, but the pix with the spam musubi made me laugh. Aloha, Ann

Veronica @ Minty’sKitchen August 11, 2012 at 12:50 AM  

Your chocolate layered cake looks so gorgeous. And you've cut it beautifully, great knife skills.

Jessie August 19, 2012 at 2:16 AM  

Hello Green Cilantro, I just want to say I miss reading your posts. You are an inspiration to me and my own blog! I hope life is treating you well!

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