Chocolate Cake Recipe

Posted by Cornel Schalkwyk on


This is a family recipe that I grew up with, ever since licking the mixing bowls in my mum’s kitchen when the ingredients were ready for baking…  I could never understand how people would want to eat any other type of cake, since this chocolate cake is soooooo good! 

Later in life I realised that many bakers struggle with chocolate cake recipes that are dry and too crumbly, so I’ve decided to share our family secret. I’m sure it will convert many more to being chocolate cake fans!

This cake is light and fluffy, moist, and stable enough to carve!  Seems too good to be true, right?  Give it a try, and you will never use another recipe again!

Top tips:

  • If you plan to carve your cake, make your sponges the day before, wrap them in cling film once cooled and store them in the fridge overnight. A cold sponge is much easier to carve.
  • The key to an even rise is to go low and slow. If your cake forms a dome on the top, your oven is too hot.  Try setting the oven to a lower temperature and bake for a few minutes longer.
  • Don't over bake!  


Prep time: 25 minutes

Cook time: 38 minutes (for 3 layers)

Servings: 8” cake with 2 – 3 layers (12 – 16 servings)

Author: Cornel Schalkwyk


  • Stand mixer
  • Measuring cups
  • Cake tester
  • Cooling rack


  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 500ml (2 cups) granulated sugar
  • 250ml (1 cup) sunflower oil
  • 250ml (1 cup) warm water
  • 500ml (2 cups) plain flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 6 tbsp unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Watch the video here for a demonstration on how to make this cake.

Chocolate buttercream:

  • 200g room temperature butter
  • 370g icing sugar
  • 30g unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1.5 – 2 tbsp water or milk

This is enough buttercream to fill a 3 layer cake.  Double the recipe if you also want to cover the entire cake with chocolate buttercream.  Alternatively, to cover your cake with chocolate ganache (recommended for fondant cakes), see my super easy microwave method for chocolate ganache here.



  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C fan assisted (302°F), or 160°C (320°F) for a conventional oven. Line / grease three 8” cake tins and set aside.
  2. Separate the egg whites from the egg yolks and set the egg yolks aside.
  3. Whisk the egg whites with an electric hand or stand mixer on high speed until it forms stiff peaks. You can use the tried and tested method of tipping the bowl upside down over your head to ensure that it is well whisked!  Scrape the whisked egg whites out into a separate bowl and set aside for later.
  4. Add the 6 egg yolks and sugar to your stand mixer bowl (no need to wash after the egg whites) and mix on high speed until pale in colour and creamy.
  5. Add the oil and mix on slow until combined. Whilst keeping the mixer running on a slow speed, add the cup of warm water slowly until all mixed in.
  6. Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa and add to the egg mixture. Add the salt and vanilla extract and mix on medium speed for 20 – 30 seconds.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix on medium speed for another 10 – 20 seconds.
  7. Add the whisked egg whites to the chocolate batter and fold in by hand. Be gentle and don’t stir too roughly otherwise you’ll knock all the air out of your egg whites. This is an important step for the lightness of your sponge.
  8. Pour the batter into the cake tins.
  9. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes (if using three 8” tins), or until a cake tester or cocktail stick comes out clean when inserted in the centre of the cake. If using only two cake tins, the baking time will be longer around 40 – 45 minutes.
  10. Let the cakes cool for five minutes in the tins before taking them out onto a cooling rack.
  11. Once completely cooled, you can stack & decorate your cake.



  • Don’t be tempted to replace the oil with butter as this will affect the texture and moistness of the cake.
  • The recipe produces a standard height cake (5” tall) when using 8” cake tins. For a tall cake, use 1.5 - 2 times the recipe and adjust the baking time accordingly.
  • You can wrap your unfrosted cakes in cling film and freeze in freezer bags for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and bring back to room temperature before frosting and consuming.

Have you used this recipe?  Tag me and hashtag your creations on social media:

Facebook @bloomingbakesbycornel

Instagram @bloomingbakesbycornel


Share this post

← Older Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published.