Chocolate cake decorated with chocolate finger biscuits and multi-coloured smarties on top

Easy, Foolproof Chocolate Cake Recipe

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A Really Easy Chocolate Cake Recipe

Looking for a foolproof chocolate cake recipe from scratch? This is it. Works every time, and doesn’t even need a mixer.

This is my go-to recipe for birthday cakes, special occasions, or completely mundane occasions like a rainy Saturday afternoon. 

I’m not a food blogger, nor an expert baker. If you’re looking for perfection then you might be better off elsewhere, lol. I like simple family recipes that taste great and don’t take hours. Stick around if that’s your thing.

So if you’re looking for a foolproof chocolate cake recipe that always works and produces a delicious cake every time, then you’re in the right place.

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The Perfect Chocolate Birthday Cake

My kids much prefer chocolate cake to any other kind, and this is my most requested cake for their birthdays. My son’s birthday is coming up this week so this is what I’ll be making.

This recipe combines an easy chocolate sponge with a delicious chocolate buttercream icing, and you can make it as simple or as decorative as you like. On past occasions I’ve done loads of simple things like poured chocolate sprinkles on top or placed white chocolate buttons round the edge. It doesn’t need much, to be honest. 

Chocolate cake with rainbow and unicorn candles, smarties and chocolate finger decorations

How do you decorate the cake with chocolate fingers and smarties?

My children’s favourite birthday cake decoration is a perimeter of chocolate finger biscuits and a rainbow-coloured pool of smarties clattered all over the top. This is what I usually do for a birthday cake, and it never fails. Kids love it and it looks impressive, but only involves sticking things on and no artistry is required. Winner!

For older kids who’ve outgrown the rainbow look, swap the Smarties for Maltesers, Minstrels, or any other favourite sweets.

Chocolate birthday cake with candles, decorated with chocolate fingers and smarties

How many chocolate fingers does it take to go round the cake?

The recipe below calls for 20cm / 8in diameter cake tins, so these amounts are based on a cake that size.

To decorate like this, you’ll need 3 boxes of Cadbury’s chocolate fingers (it take about 2.5 boxes to go round with some left over for the chef) and 2-3 large sharing bags of Smarties.

All you do is cover the outside of the cake liberally with buttercream, then carefully stick the chocolate fingers round the edge and then pour the smarties on the top. Everything should stick fairly easily to the buttercream so it’s not as tricky as it looks.

Sit back and admire your work. Even you’ll be impressed.

Let me know in the comments if the recipe worked for you!

Easy, Foolproof Chocolate Cake


Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes (plus decorating)


For the cake

  • 200g / 1 cup caster sugar
  • 200g / 7oz softened unsalted butter or margarine
  • 4 large eggs
  • 200g / 1.25 cups self-raising flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk

For the buttercream icing

  • 75g / 3oz milk chocolate, chopped
  • 150g / 5oz butter, softened
  • 300g / 3 cups icing sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk


  1. Preheat oven to 200C/400F, or Fan 190C/375F, or Gas 5.
  2. Butter the bases and sides of two 20cm/8 inch round sandwich cake tins and line the bases with baking parchment.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together sugar and softened butter/margarine until pale and creamy (this is quickest with an electric whisk, but if you’re using margarine, you can easily do it with a wooden spoon).
  4. Beat in the eggs. It might curdle and look odd but don’t worry. Keep mixing and it will all be fine once the flour’s mixed in.
  5. Using a metal spoon, gently mix in the flour, cocoa powder, vanilla extract and milk – gently folding the mixture together until you have a smooth batter.
  6. Divide the mixture between the two cake tins, and bake for 20 minutes, or until a skewer/knife inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  7. Leave to cool in the tins for 5-10 minutes, and then put out on a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. To make the buttercream icing: melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl in the microwave (stir every 30 secs) or over a pan of simmering water.
  9. Use a fork to mix the softened butter and icing sugar. You can switch to an electric beater once they’re combined if you want, but again you can just do this with a wooden spoon.
  10. Sift in cocoa powder and pour in the melted chocolate. Mix until smooth. Mix in a little milk to soften.
  11. Use half to sandwich the cakes together, and smooth the other half on top (and round the edges if you want). Decorate with anything you like. (See above for decorating with chocolate fingers and smarties)
  12. Get a slice quickly before it’s all gone.
Two cake tins filled with chocolate cake mix

You might also like:
Failsafe Chocolate Brownies
Easy No-Egg Cookies

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One Comment

  1. It looks so yummy!!
    Thanks for sharing this amazing recipe.
    I will try to cook this for my brother’s birthday!

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