Donna Hay’s Classic Chocolate Cake with a twist

Happiest New Year to you. I know. I know you have missed me dearly. Life and existential issues, what to do? But now I am back as I am a sucker for things I love – Food, Music, and Life. Its not that I haven’t been cooking. In fact, I have been cooking a lot, but getting to write about it with my elaborate story plan has been a serious challenge. But then, we all use new year as the excuse to get back to things we love or things we want to do. Yes, I am like everyone else, sadly. 🙂

Getting down to business. My mum and bro gifted me an OTG on my birthday, so I have been super excited about that. Mom inaugurated it when she visited me for a week in October. She baked some super Chicken dish but as she wasn’t completely happy with the recipe hence I haven’t shared it with you yet. But here is a picture for your eyes only.

Mama's baked chicken

Now, the time has come for me to use my own oven too. Friend’s birthday and Christmas gave me a valid and a motivating reason to bake a super chocolate cake. Since my mom has been following Donna Hay a lot for the past one year, I thought of giving her recipe a shot too :).

My first cake 1

Serves: 8-10

Prep Time: 30-40 mins

Cooking time: 1 hour

Decoration time: 20 mins

Expertise Level: Easy to Medium

Ingredients Availability: Easily Available

Food Mood:

  • Taste Palate: Medium Sweet
  • Ambience: Friends and Family and some celebrations.
  • Music: Discovered this band The Correspondents on youtube and was playing them on loop while baking. Bliss. These are my favourite tracks and videos:


2) Cheating with you
3) Whats happened to Soho?
4) Look what you get

Original Ingredients and Recipe : Donna Hay’s Classic Chocolate Cake with Buttercream
But since this is my blog, let me share the more elaborate recipe in my way. I also have to tell you about my twist 🙂
For the Cake
170g butter, softened
1½ cup (265g) brown sugar (I used the Demerara sugar)
2 eggs
1 cup raisins, diced almonds soaked in 1 cup Cointreau for 8-10 hours  (Not there in the original recipe but it was Christmas time)
½ cup  milk (Donna Hay’s Recipe says to use  cup of milk and 1.5 tsp baking soda dissolved in it)
½ cup  Cointreau  (Yes Yes.. That’s my Twist , my secret ingredient  – Orange liqueur )
2¼ cups (335g) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
3 teaspoons baking powder, sifted
½ cup (50g) cocoa, sifted

For the White Butter Cointreau cream ( Donna Hay made a chocolate butter cream icing)
250g butter, softened
2 cups (320g) icing sugar mixture, sifted
½ tsp salt
¼ cup Cointreau
4 packets of gems for decoration

Last week I decided that I should bake a Christmas cake on 25th. Be my mom’s daughter and carry on with the tradition. But I got too lazy to get out of bed that day. I must have been pooped with work. I had absolutely no motivation at all and I guilt tripped all day for not getting myself to do it. But then, I realized that my friend Shraddha’s Birthday was on the 27th. I am really fond of her and just thought it will be perfect to bake a cake for a special(er) occasion. I will get to share my baking exploits with friends adn that serves as an awesome motivation.

So I was up early on 27th. Made my breakfast. Asked the maid to cook my lunch. Watched a movie and post lunch trotted my way to Hypercity to buy all the goodies. Got my cake ingredients and some meat to cook in the following days. Got back home after 3 hours to realize that my baking dish was probably too small for a birthday cake. So I went out again to another store closeby to buy a bigger baking dish. Arrgh!! I was so annoyed. Even my watchman was laughing at me and said to me in Hindi that “Ek baar mein hi karna tha na madam. Do baar upar neeche upar neeche kar rahe ho. Do baar auto ko paise bhi diye”. Anyway, the logistical issues were sorted. I put on the music on my phone and got back to the real business.

I thought I will bake 2 cakes , one for my office buddies and one for the birthday bash that evening. All this without an electric hand mixer. I was being over ambitious considering I had just 3 hours to bake 2 cakes, decorate, get ready for the party and reach my friend’s place beating 45 mins of traffic. But then, that’s me right. 🙂


I had my hand whisk, a big bowl, double of all the ingredients  since I wanted to bake 2 cakes. I let the white butter soften and beat it for a bit to make it nice and fluffy. Then started adding the sugar one tbsp at a time while beating the butter mixture. I realized my bowl was too small for that quantity and that was my largest bowl at home and to top it all my hand had started to hurt beating that damn thing without an electric mixer (missed my Mom’s kitchen for lack of cooking gadgets). So I took out half of the mixture in a separate bowl and decided to make one cake at a time. Ah my foresight and wisdom. Will tell you why, next.

Once I beat all the sugar with the butter, it was time to add the milk. According to the recipe, I was suppose to mix the baking soda into the  milk before adding it. And I did exactly that. The milk started to bubble instantly and I was having fun looking at it. Added it to my butter mixture and then – a melodramatic pause – the entire mixture split. My heart sank. So, I used baking powder instead of baking soda. The difference between the two is that, baking powder is baking soda with something acidic (cream of tartar). Now, what happens when you add something acidic like lemon or vinegar to milk? Its splits. That’s how we make paneer or cottage cheese.  So I had sweet cottage cheese with a lot of butter in it. Went straight into the dustbin. BUT THEN who was smart enough to think of baking 2 cakes and keeping one half of the beaten butter and sugar mixture aside? I am the daddy 😉 So there was going to a birthday cake and a spectacular one. This time due to paranoia I did not add the milk, yet.

I preheat the oven now for 15 mins at 160 deg centigrade in the baking mode. I then beat the eggs into the mixture. Then sifted the flour (maida) , cocoa powder and the “baking powder” (this is how one must use baking powder while baking). To this, I add the soaked fruits so they are nicely coated with the sifted flour mixture. Now I I just kept adding the flour mixture with fruits to the butter mixture one tablespoon at a time, folding it in to mix properly. The batter is ready.

I now grease a 22 square cm cake tin with some better and dusted some flour on it cover the tin completely. I spooned the mixture into the tin and gently pushed the tin into the oven at 160 deg centigrade for 60 mins.

In the meanwhile, I prepared the butter icing for the decoration. I beat the softened butter until fluffy and add the icing sugar one spoonful at a time. I then add the salt and the Cointreau to mixed it well with the icing mixture.

Once the oven timer went off, I put a skewer into the cake see if it was cooked. The cue is the skewer should come out clean without any batter sticking to it. AND Hola, it was done. Took the cake out of the oven and let it cool for an hour or so. I rushed to my friend’s place with the butter icing in one bowl and the cake tin in another. I reached rather late and had to quickly get the cake ready. I did not have a pretty looking dish to serve it in either. But then I had no time now to fret over presentation. I quickly slapped the butter icing on the cake and added some gems for the extra colourful festive and celebratory touch. And within 10 mins the cake was devoured. I was smiling all night.

My first chocolate cake

This is my first 2014 post and I dedicated all of today to cooking.  While I have been blogging, I also made myself a nice pan fried chicken with freshly chopped turmeric, orange juice and fennel leaves for dinner and spent all evening making gajar ka halwa. Posts coming up next for quick chicken recipes and gajar ka halwa.

Food Marriage Tips

1) Butter Icing is incomplete without saltiness. I think the salt elevates the taste of the butter icing to epic proportions.

2) Chocolate and alcohol work wonders in baking (and otherwise too). I think baking chocolate cake without alcohol should be banned completely. While rum and brandy are perfect for cakes, I experimented with Cointreau in this recipe because chocolate and orange are no strangers either.

3) OTG setting for baking is very critical. We need to use only the bottom heat of the oven for baking cakes and cookies. So make sure that you select the right mode in your oven.

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