Getting baked: Magic star mystery tour

Imogen Coulson 28 January 2015

Everyone loves chocolate cake. That’s an objective statement, surely? No, it’s not. Unfortunately I’m that one-in-a-million person who isn’t a fan. Yet, despite this, time and time again I find myself with spatula in one hand and chocolate in the other. Friends love them, and the bigger, richer and more chocolatey they are, the quicker they disappear.

Never before have I seen something vanish as quickly as with this cake. I presented it to a group of friends post-formal, yet it was still devoured so quickly it never saw daylight.


Ingredients: for the cake:

400g plain flour (‘00’ grade is best)

200g golden caster sugar

100g light muscavado sugar or 50g each light & dark for extra caramel flavour

50g cocoa powder (Green & Black’s is my preference)

2tsp baking powder

1tsp bicarbonate of soda

A pinch of salt

3 medium eggs, beaten

140ml natural yoghurt 

1tsp vanilla extract

175g unsalted butter, melted and cooled

125ml sunflower oil

300ml cold water

For the frosting:

175g dark chocolate, (as dark as you dare – over 85% is best and over 70% essential)

250g unsalted butter, softened

150g icing sugar, sifted 

1tsp vanilla extract

Magic stars for decoration.



Preheat oven 180°c/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line two 20cm cake tins

Sieve the flour, sugars, cocoa, rising agents and salt into a large mixing bowl (you can do this twice for extra rise)

In a small bowl add the sour cream and vanilla to the beaten eggs

In a separate bowl whisk together the melted butter, oil and chilled water (you will have three separate bowls at this point, one with dry ingredients, on with egg mixture and another with fats)

Fold half the egg mixture and half the fats to the dry ingredients, when incorporated add the rest of the liquid ingredients and fold in until combined.

Equally distribute between the two lined tins then bake in preheated oven for around 50 minutes, until they are springy a skewer comes out clean.

Cool in the tins for around 10 minutes, or until cool enough to touch, then turn out to cool completely. Depending on how rounded the tops are, slice off the domed bit with a sharp bread knife.

For the frosting, melt the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water (but make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the pan) and allow to cool.

In a large bowl, beat the butter until as light and fluffy as possible, sieving in the icing sugar (remember not to over-sweeten as you will be adding chocolate). Next add the melted chocolate (making sure it is cool so will not melt the butter!).

Place the bottom cake on a plate, with strips of baking parchment around the edge (this means that when you frost the cake, the plate will not end up covered in frosting and will give you a clean line)

Sandwich the middle with roughly a quarter of the icing. Place the 2nd sponge on top and add another dollop of icing on top. Using a straight edge knife spread the frosting across the top and down the sides, using about half of the remaining icing, then place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to set. This is called a crumb coat; it prevents crumbs being caught in the final layer of frosting.

When cooled, cover the cake with the remaining frosting. Then place a clean flat edged knife in a cup of boiling water and use this to smooth over the frosting on the top and side of the cake, regularly wiping with a kitchen towel to ensure the blade is clean and dry.

Decorate with the magic stars, place back in the fridge to set, and once completely set, pull out the baking parchment strip from the bottom of the cake.