Special equipment: 2 (each 8-inch diameter) layer tins with removable bases, buttered.

Makes about 8 slices.


  • Cake

  • 200g plain flour

  • 200g caster sugar

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

  • 40g best-quality cocoa

  • 175g soft unsalted butter

  • 2 large eggs

  • 2 teaspoons real vanilla extract

  • 150ml sour cream

  • Frosting

  • 75g unsalted butter

  • 175g best quality dark chocolate, broken into small pieces

  • 300g icing sugar

  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup (or light corn syrup)

  • 125ml sour cream

  • 1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

  • sugar flowers, optional


  • Cake:

  • 1.

    Take everything out of the fridge so that all the ingredients can come to room temperature.

  • 2.

    Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C and line and butter two 20cm sandwich tins with removable bases.

  • 3.

    Now all you have to do is put all the cake ingredients – flour, sugar, baking powder and bicarb, cocoa, butter, eggs, vanilla and sour cream – into a food processor and process until you have a smooth, thick batter. If you want to go the long way around, just mix the flour, sugar and leavening agents in a large bowl and beat in the soft butter until you have a combined and creamy mixture. Now whisk together the cocoa, sour cream, vanilla and eggs and beat this into your bowl of mixture.

  • 4.

    Divide this batter, using a rubber spatula to help you scrape and spread, into the prepared tins and bake until a cake tester, or a thin skewer, comes out clean, which should be about 35 minutes, but it is wise to start checking at 25. Also, it might make sense to switch the two cakes around in the oven halfway through cooking time.

  • 5.

    Remove the cakes, in their tins, to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes before turning out of their tins. Don’t worry about any cracks as they will easily be covered by the icing later.

  • Frosting:

  • 1.

    To make this icing, melt the butter and chocolate in a good-sized bowl either in the microwave or suspended over a pan of simmering water. Go slowly either way: you don’t want any burning or seizing.

  • 2.

    While the chocolate and butter are cooling a little, sieve the icing sugar into another bowl. Or, easier still, put the icing sugar into the food processor and blitz. This is by far and away the least tedious way of removing lumps.

  • 3.

    Add the golden syrup to the cooled chocolate mixture, followed by the sour cream and vanilla and then when all this is combined whisk in the sieved icing sugar. Or just pour this mixture down the funnel of the food processor on to the icing sugar, with the motor running.

  • 4.

    When you’ve done, you may need to add a little boiling water – say a teaspoon or so – or indeed some more icing sugar: it depends on whether you need the icing to be runnier or thicker; or indeed it may be right as it is. It should be liquid enough to coat easily, but thick enough not to drip off.

  • 5.

    Choose your cake stand or plate and cut out four strips of baking parchment to form a square outline on it (this stops the icing running on to the plate). Then sit one of the cakes, uppermost (ie slightly domed) side down.

  • 6.

    Spoon about a third of the icing on to the centre of the cake half and spread with a knife or spatula until you cover the top of it evenly. Sit the other cake on top, normal way up, pressing gently to sandwich the two together.

  • 7.

    Spoon another third of the icing on to the top of the cake and spread it in a swirly, textured way (though you can go for a smooth finish if you prefer, and have the patience). Spread the sides of the cake with the remaining icing and leave a few minutes till set, then carefully pull away the paper strips.

  • 8.

    I love to dot the top of this with sugar pansies – and you must admit, they do look enchanting – but there really is no need to make a shopping expedition out of it. Anything, or indeed nothing, will do.


I tend to keep my kitchen stocked with very good dark chocolate buttons (70 per cent cocoa solids) as this entirely dispenses with any need to chop chocolate before melting it. Do not dream of using normal confectionary ones (except just to eat, of course).

Recipe taken from Nigella Lawson's new cookbook FEAST.

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31 comments • 47 ratings
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Posted by nettsuReport
I made this as a birthday cake (double the quantities) for my toddlers and it was brilliant! I think you can never go wrong with Nigella - although I would use the mixer to make the icing - I got a fair bloody work out...
Posted by RachidaReport
a very lovely recipe;thns for sharing
Posted by Report
tammy 123456789
can you pint it because my sitter has a dizbellt and than she will know how to cook this cake.thank you.
Posted by albattyReport
got rave reveiws in my house gone in no time .a must keep recipe
Posted by KMTVReport
i thought there was a problem with the recipie quantity, the 2 cakes were very small and flat, i used and did not forget the bi-carb or baking powder. sorry but this was one cake that was not what i expected, and the 1st time a recipe did not quite work for me. dont know where i went wrong.
Posted by ericaReport
if i just use 1 tin instead of 2 sandwich tins what size would i use
Posted by hungry girlReport
Hi Kim .... I'm intrigued ... would you be willing to share??
Posted by GM351Report
Even I made it, and i'm a bloke. Everybody just loved it. Just magic !!!!!
Posted by AG67Report
This is absolutely gorgeous!!! Nigella is just fantastic.
Posted by judith23Report
what can I use instead of corn syrup, I can't find it here in Australia