The Perfect Chocolate Mud Cake

A good chocolate cake recipe is absolutely invaluable – it is the easiest flavour to turn to when making a cake to be enjoyed by a number of people with different tastes. You could say that chocolate is something that brings most people together.

My standard chocolate cake recipe is fantastic – easy to make, easy to store, and tastes better with age…but there’s just one problem. It’s such a tender and delicate cake that decorating it in any way other than a chocolate ganache glaze means that it falls apart. It certainly can’t be split and filled nor covered with a fondant.

As a friend had asked for a decorated chocolate cake for her birthday, this meant that the hunt was on. The hunt for a chocolate cake which was just as intense and delightful as my standard turn-to recipe, but that was a bit sturdier so it could handle a little knife work.

You know, there are A LOT of chocolate cake recipes out there. Not even looking at the internet, at last count I had a combined total of over 60 chocolate cake recipes from my cookbooks. Now, I don’t have quite enough cookbooks to fill a book store (actually only half a bookshelf full!), but this does give you an idea of the diversity when it comes to chocolate cakes.

Which to choose, which to choose?

I ended up making a short list of recipes on the basis of authors, reputations and ingredients. I knew I wanted something that tasted similar to my usual chocolate cake so steered clear of any recipes calling for something a bit different such as grated potato or zucchini. I’m not saying that these would be bad recipes, but I wanted to err on the side of caution for this search.

After I tried about 4 different recipes, I struck gold with this one. It has a wonderfully delicate crumb and is nice and moist, yet it’s sturdy and dense enough to be split into thin layers (I generally tend to go with 1cm thin layers, though this does need the cake to be refrigerated), filled with whatever you like and iced/decorated however your fancy takes you.

It does require more time and effort than my usual recipe of choice, but considering the flavour and versatility of this recipe, I’m calling this the perfect chocolate cake recipe.

Serve it as is or get fancy and fill it with white chocolate mousse and strawberries, it’s a fantastic addition to your baking repertoire!

Perfect Chocolate Mud Cake
(from The home guide to cake decorating by Jane Price)

220 g unsalted butter
220 g good quality dark chocolate
6 tsp instant coffee granules
160 mL water
125g self-raising flour
125g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
480 g caster sugar
4 large eggs
7 tsp vegetable oil
110 mL buttermilk

1 x 22cm round cake tin / 20cm square cake tin

1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C, then put the butter, chocolate, coffee and water in a pan and stir over low heat till melted. Remove from heat.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flours, cocoa, caster sugar and bicarb soda and make a well in the middle.

2. Whisk together the eggs, oil and buttermilk in a separate bowl till combined.

3. Pour the cooled chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and carefully whisk to combine.

4. Grease and line your cake tin with non-stick baking paper, making sure the collar for the sides extends 2cm above the cake tin. Slowly pour the chocolate mixture into the well in the flour mixture.

5. Mix well to combine, then carefully pour into the lined cake tin. Bake for 1 hour 45 minutes, or till a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave the cake in the tin till completely cooled.

This makes quite a tall cake perfect for being split into layers for decorating, but you can also bake this as a loaf or even cupcakes. Personally, I like to make mini cakes which make it easy to cover in a dark chocolate ganache, offset with a drizzle of white chocolate for colour and contrast :)

[tags]chocolate, cake, dessert[/tags]


  1. Hi!
    I discovered your blog today at work 😳 and it’s amazing, especially this mud cake! I’ll try it out this weekend… but with the other recepies I might have problems (because I won’t be able to get some of the ingredients where I live, I’m affraid). Anyway, good luck!
    Greetings from Poland!

    • Hi Brigan,

      I am doing the exact same thing at work today 😳 and have the same problem with finding all the ingrediënts living in Poland :). Can you tell me what you get that is called buttermilk?


      • Jess
        Twitter: five_colours_

        Hi! I don’t know if you’ve found the Polish name for buttermilk yet, but I know that it’s pretty easy to make yourself at home, with regular milk and white vinegar. Google buttermilk recipes, you’ll find plenty!

  2. Hi Elle,

    I made this for a friends engagement, I forgot the oil (WOOPS!) but it still came out great!, almost as good as the trail I made earlier. lots of rave reviews and its going to be my main choc cake from now on! thanks so much

  3. this is awesome, I can’t wait to go home and make it! YUUUUM

  4. Hi Ellie

    Can one use this cake when covering with fondant icing? I would like to use it when making my daughter’s birthday cake.


    • Jayde, this cake holds up very well to being covered in icing, though you will want to make sure that the cake is baked and filled at least a day before icing/covering with fondant :)

  5. Hi Ellie will try this mud-cake out. Have had no success with others in the past, they just don’t cook in the middle even though a skewer comes out clean. Perhaps it’s something to do with having a fan oven.
    I’m thinking of cooking it in a shallow tray, 30x23x4 roughly – would amount of ingredients above be okay with this?

    • To be absolutely honest, I’ve not a clue. The dimensions seem quite large so it sounds like you want to make a sheet cake – the batter should be fine but I can’t tell you how the baking time will be affected by the different size.

  6. what’s the chocolate ganache recipe you used? thanks=)

  7. I’ve been searching for a nice chocolate cake recipe, and i think you have won me round with this one! i think i might have to give it a go… thankyou for sharing x 😉

  8. Do you think this would be suitable to make cupcakes with?

  9. This cake looks really delicious, I have been looking for a really moist chocolate cake recipe but so far no luck. For sure I will try yours.

    I have something to say to Glossy about the cake do not cook in the middle, this happend to me many times, and what I do is that when I think I open a little hole in the middle and put the cake 10 to 15 minutes more and most of the time it cooks perfectly, maybe it will work for her! 😐

    Thank you and have a wonderful day 😐

  10. Hi Ellie, I’m just wondering, would this recipe work the same without the coffee? Also, do you set your oven to cook in fan forced or convection? Thanks!

  11. Choufleure says:

    Honestly, this is the best chocolate cake I have ever eaten! It’s all moist and chocolately and yum. Perfect is most definitely the right word <3

  12. just a hint for Glossy, fan baked cakes tend to cook the outside too quickly so that the inside ends up soggy, if you can’t turn the fan bake off then try tieing wet newspaper around the outside of the cake tin with plain string {nothing plastic coated of course}
    and thanks Ellie will try this out for my 9 yr olds birthday – he wants it decorated as an army tank so need a firm cake for this

  13. Nicole says:

    Johanna I use it without coffee and it’s awesome

  14. Made this cake and its fantastic! I’ve been searching for the perfect chocolate cake recipe for a long time and finally found it. It is really simple to make. It is moist and dense and tastes great, very chocolatey. Thanks for a great recipe Ellie. Everybody loved it! 😉

  15. Hey
    Just wondering whether or not this cake would work well with full cream milk instead of buttermilk-its all I’ve got at the moment, and I need to bake a really nice cake for mothers day :)
    Thanks :)

    • Just wondering if you tried this with full cream milk and how did it work out? thanks

    • You can use half plain natural yoghurt and half milk, mixed, and that works fine instead of buttermilk. The thing that makes buttermilk important is the acid from the fermentation, and obviously plain natural yoghurt, if unsweetened, has that as well. Straightforward milk won’t do the same chemical reaction with the bicarb/baking soda in recipes, and that reaction makes for a tender and delicate crumb.

      Thanks for the recipe – it looks amazing!

  16. Thank you so much for this recipe. My finace and i made this cake and little cupcakes! Had such a fun making them…the house smells amazing and this tastes great!

  17. Hi looking for a white chocolate cake recipe. Will this recipe work if I replace the coffee and cocoa with flour?

  18. Hi Ellie,
    I tried your recipe early this week and got many good comments! It would be great if you can put the measures of ingredients in cups:p Thanks a lot.

  19. I made this tonight. It’s the recipe from the Planet Cake book. I have an amazing recipe I normally use but as I’m going to be decorating this cake with fondant I needed something dense. I’ll definitely use half the amount if coffee next time as it has a very strong coffee after taste. Hopefully this will improve over the next few days.

    • Hi Amy,

      The flavours definitely meld over the next two/three days after baking. As for Planet Cake – they actually “stole” this recipe from Jane Price, who’s book was published a few years before it appeared in the Planet Cake cookbook.


  20. Update from my previous post- yep your right, the coffee flavour is gone after a few days. Great recipe, very rich so I can only eat a small amount :)

  21. Tanzeela Tariq says:

    I have read so many blogs for cooking and baking but never commented. The recipe I have been always looking for…Thank you so much!

  22. Stella
    Twitter: StellaS_Bake

    Wow!! been looking for a Mudcake recipe… will definitely try this one today!!!

  23. I tried this recipe and OMG it’s soooooo good! The cake was so soft, delicate and melt in your mouth freshly baked, and after sitting in the fridge overnight, it was so moist and fudgy, chocolately! A perfect chocolate cake recipe. Thank you for sharing!

  24. a milk chocolate ganache recipe for anyone
    600g milk cooking chocolate, chopped coarsely
    1 cup (250ml) double cream

    combine chocolate and cream in medium pan; stir over low heat until smooth. Transfer to medium bowl. cover; refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until spreadable.
    Tip: u can also melt the milk chocolate and cream in a microwave oven; cook on high (100 %) about 1 1/2 min, pausing to stir every 30 seconds

  25. planning to make this recipe for my brothers birthday 😀

  26. Ani
    Twitter: animoonstar


    I subbed the dark chocolate with plain chocolate
    used 420g of sugar instead
    and subbed the butter milk with whole milk mixed with squeezed lemon juice. (Buttermilk is so difficult to find locally here!)

    I made cupcakes filled with chocolate ganache, topped with a white chocolate mousse instead of icing.
    Went down a mega treat with everyone. :o)

  27. christina says:

    Hi, I’m writing you from Italy and I just wanted to say THANK YOU for sharing this heavenly recipe with us … today is my birthday and I decided to try out the mud cake. My son suffers from coeliac disease so I used glutenfree flour and I didn’t use coffee but still it was soooo delicious!!!! Thanks again! Christina (today one year older and two chilos more, but it was absolutely worth it!!!)

  28. Dear Elli, This cake sounds like something I would like to try. However, I am from the US and we don’t use the metric system for baking. I was wondering if you have done any conversions and if so, do you round up? Also, what is the difference between regular flour and self-rising. Is castor sugar the same as granulated? I am guessing that I would bake at 325 degrees Farenheit. Thank you for your input. Diane

  29. Hi Diane, Just letting you know that there are plenty of metric/imperial/american conversion charts around online, so you shouldnt have a problem finding them. Self -Raising flour is just normal flour BUT with a raising agent added. If you only have Plain flour you will have to add the appropriate amount of raising agent (Baking powder) to make it the same as Self Raising. Castor sugar is a super fine granulated sugar, its almost as fine as powdered sugar, much finer than granulated sugar- more like Salt sized granules , a touch finer maybe. I hope all that helps some and enjoy your cake.

  30. The Perfect Chocolate Mud Cake

  31. Hi Ellie
    Can one freeze this cake before using/decorating?

  32. ruchika tandon says:

    Tried the receipe.. and it turned out JUST AMAZING… very very tasty.. just like the one’s u get at coffee shops…Thanks…

  33. I just got asked by a friend for a decorated chocolate cake and had exactly your problem – mine is too crumbly to be decorated by anything other than ganache or painstakingly piped buttercream. I can’t wait to give this one a try – it looks utterly amazing!

  34. Is this cake ok to freeze and what quantities for a 6 inch and 8 inch please

  35. I baked this cake yesterday, and split it for filling this morning. I had a cheeky sneaky pinch of some of the crust from the top, and boy, was it delicious?! Oh my giddy auntie, it was beautiful. Really rich and gooey, just like chocolate brownie. I can imagine you won’t need much in a slice, as it is so rich.

    The only thing which I may alter next time, is the amount of coffee (I’m not a fan of coffee). Did those of you who omitted the coffee still put in the water into the chocolate mixture, just without the instant coffee granules? I also wonder if it might be possible to substitute some of the plain chocolate for milk chocolate, to make the cake a little less rich, and maybe more suitable for kids to eat? Any answers/feedback much appreciated!

    Thanks, Amy

  36. I made this cake for my house mates 21st birthday and it was so good that I didn’t even get left overs thank you so much was lovely and moist wasn’t heavy like most muds very pleased I will be making it again love this recipe

  37. hiya..:) how many people does this recipe serve? thanks

  38. Wow!!!! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! Made it Thursday night, took it to work yesterday and it was gone within an hour, with rave reviews!! Now I’m about to make it for my cake baking mother in laws birthday. Hope it gets the same rave reviews!!!!!!! Thank you thank you thank you!!!!!!!!

  39. Hi could you please tell how many cupcakes would this recipe make? I need to make 12 cupcakes, can I halve the recipe for that? :)

  40. Thank you for posting a very delicious recipe. It’s perfect, rich, dense, moist… The sides of my cake rose faster than the middle, I think i read somewhere that is because the temp of the oven is too high. It is fan forced and only reduced temp by ten degrees, will try 20 degrees next time. A skewer came out clean after about an hour, so will follow your advise and check more regularly next time. Was looking for a white choc mud cake recipe for my son’s first birthday cake (layered cake – a beehive). This is so good a layer will be this cake and the other layers a white recipe once i find the right one!!

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