Recipe: Our chocolate cake separates into three layers as if by magic

Charlotte Food Shoot.

Charlotte Food Shoot. - Credit: Gregg Brown

What's all this magic cake malarkey about? Charlotte Smith-Jarvis reveals more…

I'm standing at the oven door holding one of my trusty old tins. It's been lined and greased with a precision and care I rarely devote to baking. And it's filled with a brown, unpromising-looking slop that resembles something between pancake mix and a milkshake.

But I have faith. Complete faith, that the sludgy concoction will, with the help of a bit of kitchen alchemy, be miraculously transformed into a cake beyond compare.

This is the magic cake. The feted magic cake that's become fodder for sucrose-loving bloggers and foodies across the land. What's so magical is, despite looking like a puddle of mud going into the oven, once removed and cooled, you'll discover it has morphed, like a caterpillar, into a beautiful butterfly. Your patience and belief in the cooking process is rewarded by a cake separated, as if by magic, into three layers. Fudgy dense bottom. A thick custardy centre. And a cakey topping. All you have to do is a bit of melting, mixing and folding.

Experiment with it. Have fun. Replace the cocoa and flour with ground almonds, or replace the flour with peanut flour or coconut flour. Add chocolate chips. Use all flour for a butterscotch cake. Perhaps replace the vanilla with peppermint extract.

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If you love those puddings that separate into sauce and cake while cooking, this cake is the next level. Served with a dollop of cream, I can think of little better at the moment for pud after a Sunday roast.

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Magic coffee-scented chocolate cake

(serves 8-12 – depending on your cutting skills!)


4 large eggs

1tsp water

150g light brown sugar

125g melted butter

55g plain flour

60g cocoa powder

500ml warm milk mixed with 1tbsp instant coffee

Pinch salt

1tsp white wine or cider vinegar


Pre-heat the oven to 160C and grease and line a 20cm square tin. Separate the eggs. Add the sugar and water to the egg yolks and beat until thick, creamy and mousse-like with an electric whisk. Pour in the melted butter and beat with the whisk between additions to incorporate. Add the salt.

Fold the cocoa and flour together and beat into the mixture.

Now add the milk, bit by bit and whisk in.

Clean the mixer thoroughly so no grease remains and beat the egg whites with the vinegar until you have stiff peaks.

Beat the whites into the chocolate mixture. It will be like a pancake batter.

Carefully pour into your prepared tin and place in the oven for 60 minutes. If your oven tends to cook things more quickly, take a peak after 45 or 50 minutes. The top should be cakey and set.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before cutting into pieces and devouring.

Have you made Charlotte's orange, chocolate and hazelnut cake yet? If not, find the recipe here.

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