Easy recipe for a simple, all-purpose chocolate cake

What's the connection between a little black dress, a good pair of blue jeans and a chocolate cake recipe? Like the importance of a good pair of jeans or a little black dress (okay, may be not) in the wardrobe, everyone needs a good, reliable chocolate cake recipe in their cooking repertoire. A chocolate cake that is soft and springy, with nothing fancy-schmancy about it, something that tastes good just as it is with a cup of coffee or tea - that's the kind I'm talking about. While I have complete respect for the creativity and patience of bakers who make these epic cakes that look like masterpieces, I must confess that my love for all things simple & minimalistic extends to cake. Serve me a simple, no-frills cake and I'm a happy girl. Just one small confession here- I HATE cakes that reek of baking powder. That's the one thing that completely murders a cake for me.

I often love to add carrots, beets, zucchini, pumpkin, lots of citrus zest to my cakes to give them body, flavour and colour. But sometimes I stick to a plain vanilla or chocolate cake. Of course, you always have the option of adding walnuts, cherries, roasted almonds into this batter, dressing it up with fresh cream and berries or splitting it in half and turning this into a black forest kinda cake. This recipe has a lot of potential. But if you are like me, or simply a new baking enthusiast, a slice of this cake as a treat in your kid's lunchbox or in a hamper for your friends will make them a happy camper.

I've made this cake entirely with powdered jaggery, which is simply jaggery sold in powdered form. If you get big chunks of jaggery, run it in a food processor / mixer to powder and then weigh it for the recipe. If you don't have access to jaggery, feel free to use caster sugar. Jaggery gives this a deeper colour and of course there is the advantage of using an ingredient in a less refined form. I've used this recipe quite a few times and the result is an absolutely soft, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate cake AND it doesn't reek of baking powder. 

I've adapted from a recipe I found in BBC Food, halved it, because I didn't want a two layer cake. It's usually better to weigh out ingredients like flour, sugar etc. because it gives a more accurate quantity than measuring out using cups which have a wider margin of error. In case you don't have kitchen scales, then by all means use the metric measurement I have given alongside the weights. It is completely a beginner friendly cake as it uses oil, no creaming of butter required. It's a one bowl cake so no washing up of too many pots and pans. You don't need any fancy electric beaters or stand mixers. A wooden spoon will do. So I hope you are sold out on this recipe!

Easy chocolate cake
Makes one 8" round cake
Less than 45 minutes (just the cake minus ganache / any decorations)


  • 112g plain flour (maida) (~1 cup minus 1 tbsp)
  • 150g powdered jaggery (~3/4 cup)
  • 42g cocoa powder (~1/2 cup)
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 125 ml milk (~1/2 cup)
  • 60 ml vegetable oil (~1/4 cup)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    125 ml boiling water (may not need all of this)


Preheat the oven at 180C.

Grease and line the bottom and sides of an 8" round cake tin with aluminium foil or parchment paper.

Weigh out all the ingredients or measure them out and add everything to a large bowl except the boiling water. Mix with a wooden spoon for 3-4 minutes, until well combined.

Add the boiling water to this mixture little by little with repeated stirring. The batter will get considerably thin. If you find it getting too watery, then no need to add all of the water.

Scrape this batter into the greased and lined cake tin. Push some of the batter from the center to the sides so that it is a little indented in the center. This will ensure your cake rises uniformly and not doming up in the center.

Place in the center rack of the oven and bake for around 25-35 minutes. After 25 minutes, remove the tin out and insert a skewer / dry spaghetti into the cake to see if it comes out clean. If not, bake for another 5-10 minutes until the cake is thoroughly baked.

Remove from oven, cool for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the tin carefully and cool on a wire rack thoroughly before slicing

Plain chocolate cake not fancy enough?
If you want to do a little bit extra for this cake like for an occasion, you can make an easy chocolate ganache by heating up 100 ml cream and 100g of plain chocolate bar broken into pieces. Keep stirring with a wooden spatula on medium heat until glossy and chocolate is fully dissolved. Let this cool outside for 2 hours during which it will become thicker and spreadable. Once the cake has completely cooled, pour ganache all over the cake and smoothen out with a palette knife all around and on top of the cake. 

You can fill this same batter into cupcake moulds and use the above ganache similarly to top the cupcakes. Add some colourful sprinkles on the top and you have a soft delicious cupcake that could even be better than store-bought ones!


riitoo said...

thanks for this - suggestions for the ganache - low fat cream ? and any particular brand of chocolate ? not too sweet but not bitter either. and how does one do a coffee topping please ?

Ankita said...

Easy chocolate cake is really very yummy, I would like to have it with family and with that jackfruit banana cake.

Ankita said...

It looks very yummy, I would like to have it with my family & friends, and with it jackfruit banana cake.

Abc said...

How do I do an eggless version ?

Kumar's Ktchen said...

luscious looking dark choc cake, gotta try it soon :-)

indiatopof said...

Thanks for sharing this valuable information..

Ankita said...

I really like loved it very much, Thanks for sharing the post.

Ankita said...

It looks very yummy, I would like to have it with my family & friends, and with it jackfruit banana cake.

Shoba Shrinivasan said...

Looks very very easy Nandita. Loved the one pot idea. I gottta make it exactly the same way and THEN tweak it to make it eggless. Is the cocoa powder unsweetened? I see 3/4 cup of jaggery to one cup of maida. Does that not make it too dense?

saffrontrail said...

Try 1 tbsp flaxseed powder whisked with 2 tbsp boiling hot water, instead of egg. Cannot guarantee that it will be as soft as this, but reasonably good.

saffrontrail said...

It wasn't dense at all - in fact jaggery is way less sweeter than sugar, so this cake was only mildly sweet-those who have a serious tooth may need icing sugar or chocolate ganache over the top of this.

saffrontrail said...

Coffee topping as in coffee ganache? Try whipping some heavy cream with icing sugar until soft peaks stage, gently folding in 2 tbsp of coffee liqueur and using this mix as an icing.

Usha said...

If I am to use castor sugar instead of jaggery, how much is to be used?

saffrontrail said...

3/4 Cup of caster sugar is good - sugar is sweeter than jaggery, but the jaggery cake is very mildly sweet - so go ahead and use same quantity of jaggey

Vimoha Shah said...

great recipe turned out yum!
i mixed half jaggery and half sugar and it still wasnt overtly sweet

Abc said...

Thank you . Tried it with egg and came out really well. Perfect with vanilla ice cream.

More such recipes please.

AA_Mom said...

Simply superb!. The jaggery gives the chocolate a much deeper flavor. My kids helped me make it and half of it is already eaten and shared with their friend. Thanks.

Kajal said...

Will try it out today with Nirvaan :-) Thank god forsuch simple recipes for lesser mortals like me ;-)

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