Mocha ombre cake


Every year in October I face the same challenge – coming up with a new idea for a birthday cake for my dad.

He’s very certain in what he likes, which is coffee cake and fruit cake, which makes trying to get creative with different flavours and styles slightly pointless.

I don’t like fruitcake, which means that every year it comes down to how I can make a coffee cake in a different way.


In the past I’ve done straight up coffee cake, coffee roulade, individual coffee cakes and a coffee cake with mocha filling.

This year I thought I’d try something that (I hoped) would be visually impressive and decided on a mocha ombre cake.

The cake features three layers of sponge – vanilla, coffee and coffee-chocolate – with icing that also graduates in colour with an ombre finish.


Most importantly it tasted good, but it did also look pretty good if I may say so myself, especially given that the icing was done in a five-minute rush before heading out for dinner.

All the elements of this cake are pretty basic, but they come together for an impressive finish and a cake that’s perfect for the coffee-lover in your life.


Mocha ombre cake

  • 225g butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee granules
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 1-3 tbsp milk

For the icing:

  • 250g butter
  • 400g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp instant coffee granules
  • 2-4 tbsp cocoa powder

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Sieve and fold in the self raising flour, then add a tablespoon or two of milk if needed to make the mixture a thick consistency that will drop off a spoon.

Pour a third of the mixture into a greased and lined 6″ round tin. My top tip is to weigh your mixing bowl before starting, then you can figure out exactly how much cake batter you have and how much needs to go into each pan.

Mix the instant coffee with a tablespoon of hot water, then add this to the cake mixture and stir in well. Divide the remaining mixture in half and fill a second 6″ cake pan with the coffee cake mix.

Finally, sieve the cocoa powder into the final third of the mixture with a tablespoon of milk and pour this into a third 6″ tin. Bake all of the cakes at 180 degrees or 160 fan for approximately 20-25 minutes, until risen and springy to the touch.

Set the cakes aside to cool while you make the icing. Beat the butter to soften then add the icing sugar, half at a time, and beat until really well combined. Mix the instant coffee with a two tablespoons of water and add about half of this to the buttercream. Beat well and test to see if it has enough coffee flavour. Add more if you want it stronger, then add just enough milk to make the buttercream a light, spreadable consistency.

Split the buttercream in half, and set half aside. Add the cocoa powder a tablespoon at a time, until the colour is a few shades darker than your coffee butter cream. Split the chocolate mixture in half, and then add more cocoa powder to half of it again, to be an even darker shade of brown. You should end up with half plain coffee buttercream, a quarter light coffee chocolate buttercream and a quarter dark chocolate buttercream.

To assemble the cake, level off the tops of each sponge with a sharp knife, then place the chocolate layer on a plate. Spread a small amount of the coffee buttercream over the top, then add the coffee sponge on top. Spread with another layer of coffee buttercream, then place the final vanilla sponge on top.

Use the coffee buttercream to add a thin layer of crumb coat all over the cake and chill for 10 minutes. To complete the icing, either use piping bags or apply carefully with a palette knife so the dark chocolate buttercream goes around the bottom third of the sides of the cake, the light chocolate goes around the middle and the coffee buttercream goes around the top and on top. Use a palette knife to smooth the sides of the cake and subtly blend the three buttercreams together, then cut into slices and serve.


Dark mocha chocolate fudge cake

Dark mocha cake

As I’m sure any regular readers will have gathered by now, if the pony got his way all I would ever bake is chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate.

I want to make things that he will like, but I don’t want to make the same things over and over again, so I’m always looking for sneaky ways to make something super chocolatey but with a bit of a twist.

This cake came about after I received a lovely delivery from the Handpicked Foodstore, which included a bar of Caffe Latte Artisan No.1 chocolate which I knew could be used in some sort of chocolate-coffee concoction.

I adapted my go to chocolate fudge cake recipe,  from Joanne Farrow’s Chocolate, switching half the milk for strong coffee, and adding a teaspoon of dissolved coffee granules to the icing to sandwich the cake.

I used half the quantities stated for an 8″ cake and baked it in my 6″ tin, which produced a nice tall cake that could be easily sliced into three layers.

The Caffe Latte bar was used to make the ganache on top – I wanted the flavour to stay pure and as it’s a milk chocolate I decided rather than using cream for the ganache to use water, and was very happy with how it turned out.

At the pony’s suggestion, I added a sprinkling of chopped dark chocolate on top, and I have to say looks-wise it gave it the final touch it needed – often chocolate cake is just brown and more brown but I think this one actually looks rather pretty!

Thanks to the guys at Handpicked for sending me the chocolate and inspiring this cake, which I wouldn’t even need any encouragement from the pony to make again…

Dark mocha fudge cake (adapted from Joanne Farrow’s Chocolate)

  • 60g dark chocolate
  • 60g butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 150g self raising flour
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1tbsp cocoa powder
  • 60ml milk
  • 60ml strong brewed coffee, cooled

For the icing and ganache:

  • 125g dark chocolate
  • 60g butter
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp coffee dissolved in 1 tsp water
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 50g coffee flavoured chocolate
  • 10g finely chopped dark chocolate to decorate

For the cake, melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water and set aside. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the egg and beat again. Sieve together the flour, bicarb and cocoa and fold into the cake batter. Beat in half of the milk and half the coffee, then add the melted chocolate and then the remaining milk and coffee. Pour the mix into a greased and lined 6″ round cake tin and bake at 170 degrees (160 fan) for about 50 minutes, or until risen and a skewer comes out clean.

For the icing, melt the chocolate and butter over a pan of simmering water, without stirring, then quickly beat in the icing sugar, coffee and milk. Leave to cool until thick enough to spread. To make the ganache, melt the coffee flavoured chocolate and then add hot water 1 tsp at a time, until it reaches a fairly runny consistency – it will thicken as it cools.

To assemble the cake, slice the cake horizontally into three layers, and spread the fudge icing on top of the bottom and middle layers. Reassemble the cake, then pour the ganache on top, gently spreading it out towards the sides. Sprinkle the chopped chocolate on top, then leave until the ganache has set to slice.

Chocolate Mocha Jo Cake

Last weekend was my next door neighbour’s birthday. Until receiving the invite to her party, I’d thought she was in her late 20’s, so when I found out she was actually going to be 40, after the initial surprise I knew I had to make an AMAZING cake to celebrate.

She’s alergic to a few random things like oranges, so I decided to play it safe with a mocha cake, as I already knew she likes chocolate and coffee.

I dug out a recipe that my mum made for my birthday when I was about 12, and although I couldn’t really remember what it was like, I knew I’d liked it so i was sure it would work.

Unfortunately, when I took the cake out of the oven, it was literally as flat as a pancake (see measuring photo below!)

A celebration cake can’t be flat, so I made another, and made 1 & 3/4 times the original amount of icing.

The finished cake turned out huge – in fact it was still being eaten 4 days after the party – and Jo was super happy with it.

I made a white chocolate ganache with creme fraiche to decorate the cake, and originally tried piping the lettters and stars onto greaseproof paper and freezing it, but they just didn’t set hard enough, so I had to pipe free-hand.

Cake decorating isn’t my greatest skill, so I’m pretty happy with how it turned out!

I finished the cake by adding white chocolate stars all around the edge – a proper celebration cake!



Chocolate Mocha Jo Cake

Cake Ingredients (I doubled this to make 2 layers):

  • 175g butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 175g self raising flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 75ml condensed milk
  • 30ml Camp coffee essence
Beat together the butter and sugar then gradually add in the eggs. Sift in the flour and cocoa and gently mis in with the condensed milk and coffee essence. Bake in a 9″ greased and lined tin at 180 degrees for about half an hour, until a skewer comes out clean.
Icing Ingredients:
  • 175g plain chocolate
  • 90g butter
  • 2tbsp Camp coffee essence
  • 170g tin condensed milk
Melt all the ingredients together and stir until smooth. Leave to cool until thick enough to spread, then sandwich the two cakes together and spread the rest all over the top and sides.
Decorate with white chocolate ganache and white chocolate stars!