Dead-easy chocolate cake

Dead easy chocolate cake by Carmen Niehaus

“This is the cake I always make whenever I have to put something together in a hurry for a bake sale or birthday,” says Carmen Niehaus, renowned food editor of You and Huisgenoot magazines and author of Carmen’s Best Recipes. “Cut into squares, it is ideal for selling at a bazaar or fête. You can even turn it into cupcakes or brownies.”

Serves: 1 large roasting pan cake, 2 round cakes or 24 cupcakes

Preparation time: 15 min

Cooking time: 22–30 min


750mls (3 cups) cake flour
300 - 500ml white sugar
90–125 ml (1⁄3 to 1⁄2 cup) cocoa powder
10 ml (2 t) bicarbonate of soda
160 ml (2⁄3 cup) oil
30 ml (2 T) vinegar
10 ml (2 t) vanilla essence or 10 ml (2 teaspoons) chopped rosemary
500 ml (2 cups) cold water
200 g wholenut chocolate
30–45 ml (2–3 T) cream
1 tin (360 g) caramel condensed milk
1 tub (230 g) cottage cheese
fresh figs and berries


Preheat the oven to 180 °C. Grease a roasting pan or 2 cake tins with a diameter of 20 cm, or line a muffin tin with paper cups. Dust with cocoa powder.

For the cake
Sift the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl.

Whisk the oil, vinegar, vanilla essence or rosemary and water together. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix well.

Divide the batter between the cake tins or spoon into the paper cups until three-quarters full, or spoon into the roasting pan.

Bake for 22–30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean (it will take about 40 minutes if using a roasting pan).

Leave to cool. Halve each cake if you plan to ice it in layers as pictured.

For the ganache
Melt the chocolate and cream or milk in a heatproof glass bowl suspended over boiling water, or place in the microwave oven on high until melted. Stir every now and then.

Mix the caramel condensed milk and cottage cheese together. Spread over each layer and stack on top of one another. Pour over the ganache and pile some fruit on top.

For a cupcake layer cake, spoon the ganache over the cupcakes, sprinkle with cake confetti and leave to stand until firm. Stack the cupcakes on top of each other, in a circle, and top with candyfloss and marshmallows just before serving.

For a flower cake, cut a hole in the centre of one of the cake layers and fill with caramel condensed milk. Spread with more caramel condensed milk and top with another layer of cake. Make a butter icing using 500g butter and 1kg icing sugar, and beat until light and fluffy. Divide the icing in half and add a little cocoa powder to one half and instant coffee granules dissolved in a little water to the other half. Use a large piping bag with a star nozzle. Place alternate spoonfuls of icing into the piping bag and pipe large circles over the entire cake. Pipe a few small flowers here and there. Decorate with fresh Iceberg roses.

This recipe is courtesy of Carmen’s Best Recipes by Carmen Niehaus, published by Human & Rousseau. (The book is also available in Afrikaans: Carmen se Beste Resepte deur Carmen Niehaus.) Recommended price of R260 at good book stores.

Carmens Best Recipes Carmen se Beste Resepte


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