September: Chocolate Cake Bday Long Weekend!


When life throws you lemons, make lemonade. Well lemonade’s not bad but I’d much prefer a down-and-dirty chocolate cake on days when I just need that pick me up. White Spot’s deep dark chocolate fudge chocolate cake used to be my hands-down ultimate fix but as I get older I’ve noticed I’m starting to enjoy other tastes aside from just sweet, sweet and sweet. Hence this new chocolate cake recipe I’ve been trying which includes coffee which adds that bitter rich element and counter-balances the sweetness of the cake. I also altered the recipe a bit as the frosting more than makes up for the less sugar I used for this cake.



Note: Due to the different voltage of Canada and HK electronics (thanks dad for the heads up) my KA mixer was defeated. Epic fail but meant I had quite a bit of work out since had to mix everything but hand. Hence jelly arms for the rest of the week!


Chocolate Birthday Cake (recipe slightly altered and adapted from
Recipe makes 2 x 8” pan


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ¾ cup cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water


  1. Preheat oven to 350º F (i.e. around 177º C but since ovens varies in temperature, I actually found it worked best to bake at 200º C in my HK oven).
  2. Prepare two 8-inch cake pans by spraying with oil or butter (or in my case with only one pan, I baked one after the other).
  3. Mix all the dry ingredients together. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking power, baking soda and add sugar, salt and instant coffee powder.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry – add the milk, oil, eggs and vanilla. Mix together until combined.
  5. Once combined, add the boiling water to the cake batter and continue mixing until fully incorporated and ensure to mix long enough (5 minutes or so by hand/ 1 minute with mixer) to add air to the batter.
  6. Pour cake batter into pans. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean (if the cake is thicker, bake longer).
  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 – 10 minutes.
  8. Using a knife just rim the edge to ensure nothing is sticking to the pan and invert it out to continue to cool.
  9. To speed things up, you can wrap the cooled cake in cling wrap and put in freezer as this will make it easier to frost the cake later.

This cake was very moist and very much more of an “adult” type of chocolate cake. Since I had two birthday cakes to bake this weekend, I decorated the same chocolate cakes in two very different ways (one was with a vanilla buttercream tinted with green and blue food colouring and the other using chocolate buttercream) and I realize how much I’ve missed baking for the past four months! So many changes in life, work and all things aside, I finally feel like having a breather. My tendency is to run with ideas but I need to learn and slow down – which is why cake baking completely calms me. Well, that and my new love yoga 🙂 The wonders of downward dog….lol

Simple Vanilla Buttercream (recipe from
Recipe makes enough to frost a two tiered 6” cake with enough for the piping details as well


  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened (room temperature)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar (sifted – you can add more to get desired consistency)
  • 1/4 cup skim milk (again you can add more to adjust the consistency)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Chocolate Buttercream (recipe adapted from
Recipe makes MORE than enough to frost a 2 tier 8” cake with extra for licking 🙂


  • 2 cups butter, softened (room temperature)
  • 1 cup cocoa, sifted
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted (you can add more if needed to achieve right consistency)
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract

Directions for both frostings:

  1. Using spoon or spatula (and of course a mixer if you have that handy!) cream the butter until smooth consistency and no lumps.
  2. Sift powdered sugar and add bit by bit to the butter and continue to mix until fully incorporated. The mixture will appear slightly dry and crumbly.
  3. Add milk a bit at a time along with vanilla to get the right consistency.
  4. Add salt and ensure everything is mixed well.
  5. Sift in cocoa powder for the chocolate buttercream version.
  6. Taste test – Done!

AND I’ve realized there’s so much potential for this cake and filling. My friend suggested crushing maltezers into the filling (genius!) and I can imagine using a chocolate ganache on top of this to make it even richer. Cherries, nuts, white chocolate swirls – I can’t wait for the next chocolate cake I will bake! ALTHOUGH I must say – time for a break as all the cake scraps and licking the frosting spoons has put me into an OD-ed phase. Bleh.

But please enjoy 🙂




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