Chocolate Birthday Cake

The littlest helper in our house turned two today! Now you should know by now I’m not really a ‘fancy cakes’ kind of baker, but birthdays are an exception! So a birthday cake was in order for this weekend, chocolate, of course. Although the eldest requested a tractor cake for his little brother. So I sat a toy tractor next to it. He seemed satisfied that I had fulfilled the tractor cake criteria.

It really was the simplest sponge cake, which leaves plenty of emotional capacity to faff over the filling and icing! Neither is difficult, just needs some time and forward planning which in my book, is fine for a birthday bake!

Chocolate Birthday Cake

Makes two 20cm cakes to sandwich together with buttercream with a chocolate ganache drip icing



2 tbsp cocoa
4 tbsp hot water
200g baking spread
200g caster sugar
4 eggs
200g self raising flour
2 tsp baking powder

Buttercream filling

50g dark chocolate
100g unsalted butter
200g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Ganache drip icing

150g dark chocolate
100g unsalted butter



  1. Heat oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4 and line two 20cm round cake tins with baking paper.
  2. Mix the cocoa and hot water and let cool for a few minutes. If you’re using a stand mixer, blend them in the bowl, ready to add the rest of the ingredients to.
  3. Add all the other cake ingredients and mix until completely combined.
  4. Simple as that! Divide evenly between your tins and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the cake’s slightly shrinking away from the edge of the tin. It’ll be springy to the touch when it’s done.

Buttercream filling

  1. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water.
  2. At the same time, beat your butter so it’s smooth.
  3. Add the icing sugar gradually, continuing to beat together.
  4. Add the vanilla.
  5. Fold in the chocolate.
  6. When cake is cool (leave overnight if you want to save time on the day) pipe or evenly spread the buttercream onto the top of one of the cakes. Piping is best, spreading tends to pull the top layer of the cake off – very frustrating!

Ganache drip

  1. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water.
  2. Once melted, add the butter in cubes and mix until combined.
  3. Pour gradually and carefully over the cake, making the drips travel down the edges of the cake.
  4. Add candles, sprinkles, decoration and even a tractor or two, if required!

If you don’t fancy a drip cake, just double the buttercream recipe and use that to ice on top as well.

Happy Birthday!


p.s. A ganache drip will cover multitude of messy cake baking sins – perfect for a taste over style baker, like me! ?