Basic is Beautiful: Chocolate Celebration Cake.


Cake goes hand in hand with a celebration.

This Eid, here is some inspiration for your Eid lunch (or dinner table). If you’re nervous to attempt a layered cake, perhaps consider using this recipe to create a sheet cake. Here’s how:

  1. Line a baking tray with baking paper
  2. Pour the batter in
  3. Bake it until it’s just soft to the touch
  4. Pipe or spread whipped cream over
  5. Finish off with a drizzle of chocolate ganache or grated chocolate

I want to show you that basic can be beautiful too. There aren’t any fancy layers, or intricate decoration. You don’t need to be armed with the ability to bake either – you need a few simple ingredients with minimal time in the kitchen.

This recipe has been made over 100 times between my mum and myself (I baked this for the first time over 10 years ago). Today I’m pleased to share it with you.

I used a smaller springform tin (those are the tins that have a clasp at the sides with a removable base). I got 2 layers out with 6 cupcakes (I baked them all at the same time).

If you are using a 23cm tin, you will get 2 cakes out using the full quantity of batter.

To make:

Beat 125g butter with 185g of castor sugar. Ensure this is white and fluffy.

To this add a total of 2 eggs – adding 1 at a time, and beating in-between additions.

Sift 1 and a half cups of flour with 10ml of baking powder and 30ml of cocoa.

Add a little at a time to the butter/sugar/egg mix.

Pour in while beating:

  • 185ml milk
  • 5ml vanilla extract
  • 5ml caramel essence (optional)

Pour into greased tins and bake for 10 to 15 minutes at 180 degrees.


  1. No need to overbeat this cake. Just ensure it’s mixed well together before spooning into the pans.
  2. No need to smooth the tops out. It settles once it begins to bake.
  3. If you want to ensure that your cake doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan, line it with grease proof paper and use Spray n Cook.
  4. When removing from the oven, let it rest for 10 minutes in the pan, away from any draft. Then remove gently. Do not leave it longer than this as the bottom will get soggy.
  5. Make sure ingredients are always at room temperature – that’s just a general rule when baking cakes.
  6. I’ve been asked how did I achieve the flat top on my cake – I don’t know! I just manage to get it flat when I bake. I don’t cut any of the to off. I did some research for you girls and if you have a slight dome, simply place a tea towel or dish cloth over it and press down gently. It should help to flatten the dome slightly. Let me know if you try this and if it worked!

Let’s discuss Whipped cream and Ganache.

It took me years to figure out how to achieve perfectly whipped cream. I’ve turned it into butter many times! So much so, that when I knew that I was baking a cake, I’d buy 2 tubs of fresh cream just-in-case the one let me down! I’m more confident now in the kitchen Alhamdulillah and I stick to this method of whipping my cream.

Pour the chilled cream into a bowl. I use 250ml of cream and I always have left-overs (my kids pipe the remainder onto their hot-chocolate). Begin beating using an electric beater on a medium setting – not high.

You should see the cream start to thicken. Almost like a frothy capp consistency. Now add 1 heaped tbl of icing sugar and vanilla essence or paste if that’s what you’re using. Continue to beat on that medium setting until you see it coming together but almost forming firmer clumps. You should stop when it begins to look firm and when you hold it over, it stays.

To use, simply place your piping bag into a tall glass. Fold the tops over the glass and using a spoon, spoon the cream into the bag. Remove the sides so you have a clean top to twist to be able to get the air out so you can pipe neatly.

For some, the ganache seems to be the most intimidating. Truth is, I never measure this out. So I’ve actually delayed typing this part out.

I begin by melting one large slab of Cadburys Dairy Milk chocolate over a double boiler. I use a spoon to mix and help it along as it melts.

In the microwave or stove top, warm 1 cup of cream. I use this as a starting guide but you might need slightly less or more – you want a thick ganache not runny – remember, you won’t achieve the ‘drip’ down the sides if it’s really runny.

Now begin to add the warm cream into the warm melted chocolate in a steady stream whisking as you go along. If might start to feel as if it is hardening – persevere. It will all come together.

I usually place the bowl into the fridge to thicken up. You can even give it a good whisk once its cooled. Begin by pouring a little in the middle of your cake and wait for it to gently make its way around the sides. If you see that it’s not dripping over, add a bit more at a time, in the middle.

Remember, the cream will give it a liquid consistency. If you melt chocolate over and pour that on, the chocolate will harden on your cake.

Once you have both elements, simply pipe or smooth out a layer of fresh cream on the base of your cake. Then slice some strawberries over. Top with the other layer of cake and pour the ganache over.

Here are reader recommendations of what their favourite combinations are with a basic chocolate cake:

  • Salted caramel center with whipped chantilly
  • Chocolate Mousse
  • Nutella and fresh cream
  • Bar One chocolate ganache
  • Chocolate mousse and a layer of Pavlova
  • Caramel treat and cream
  • Caramelized pecan nuts
  • Nutella and raspberries
  • Silky ganache and caramel
  • Caramel and cream
  • Banoffee, cream cheese salted caramel and bananas
  • Add coconut to the whipped cream


Photography: Layla Shaik Photography

Cake dome with slate tray, available from: Premier Home (Fordsburg) and Angamias (The Plaza or Greenside, Johannesburg)

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