This Dense Chocolate Muscovado Cake is obscenely easy, quick and incredibly versatile. Unfussy and gooey but not too rich or overwhelming, it’s perfect for a simple birthday cake or a make ahead dessert and can be adapted to make a fancier layer cake or traybake.
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With only a few tweaks, I think this simple chocolate cake makes for one of the best single layer, iced or un-iced cakes of all time. And a good contender in the layer cake category too. I mostly make it as a tray or round cake but it makes an ideal base for all manner of occasions.
This muscovado sugar based cake is one of my cornerstone recipes. I pull it out at all occasions when I just need a moist and tasty chocolate sponge. Its extremely easy and incredibly forgiving but the reward for your massive lack of effort is disproportionately awesome.
The basis of the recipe stems from Nigella Lawson’s Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake from How to be Domestic Goddess which is easily one of the best and greatest cookbooks of all time.
Its not often that I can criticise Queen Nigella’s recipes but weirdly I always felt that the recipe made for an awful loaf cake. It doesn’t cook evenly, it spews all over the oven (argh! waste!) and the sinking in the middle is just a bit ridiculous.
Make it a Feast
I truly believe that you can make any dish into a proper feast! Whether thats a feast for one after work on a Tuesday, a casual feast for four on a Friday evening or a feast for 12 for a special occasion!
A simple chocolate cake is a fabulous and timeless way of ending any feast. It is especially great after something like a Sunday Feast with something like my Paprika Roast Chicken, Proper Yorkshire Puddings, Roast Sweet Potatoes and Garlic Pea Puree.
It is also a great cake to make for a bake sale, especially if you bake it in a square tin and cut it into squares. A chocolate buttercream would be a great topping. My Russian Slices, Mini Sticky Toffee Cakes, Fiery Ginger Loaf Cake and Chorizo Rose Tarts also make great bake sale treats. And don’t forget the extremely kid friendly Cornflake Cakes!
Don’t forget to head over to my Feast Collection pages to find all of my tips and tricks to help you host a fun and stress-free feast. Plus remember to check out my recipe index to create your own awesome Feast!
Ingredients for Chocolate Muscovado Cake
I know the world and his wife bangs on about using the ‘best quality chocolate you can’… But I like to use the cheapest chocolate I can. And I think that is the reason this cake is a) a great cupboard standby and b) not too rich.
I have used milk chocolate on a number of occasions. I find that the texture of the cake is overly affected and so I wouldn’t really recommend it. Stick with a cheap dark bar.
Muscovado is a molasses rich soft sugar which is very dark brown in colour. It is also known as khandsari and khand. Muscovado is often used in rich fruit and christmas cakes to provide a deep and rich flavour. It is also sometimes sold as dark muscovado or light muscovado.
The dark type is what you want to use here. Sugar in the UK which is labelled dark brown sugar can usually be used interchangeably. Just look for the darkest one on the shelf for maximum richness of flavour.
If you cannot find dark sugar, a light brown sugar would likely work. Do expect the final cake to be a little less flavourful. I would not try to use white or caster sugar in this recipe as it really will be lacking.
If you use unsalted and not salted butter in this recipe, you must add some salt – ideally sea salt flakes. Without some salt in the recipe, the flavour becomes muted and the joy of the cake is lost.
Chocolate Muscovado Cake is the ultimate flexible recipe!
To create a fabulous celebration cake, I double the recipe, bake it in 2 tins and then use Nigella’s Chocolate Fudge Icing to fill and completely cover the cake. You can then decorate in any way you like. I like to go to town and made a chocolate topped extravaganza!
I sometimes also make a simple buttercream with butter, icing sugar and cocoa powder Use this to top the cake before sprinking over some decoration like chocolate chips.
It also makes some pretty decent and simple muffins – just cook them for half the time. You could make a ganache topping with 200g Dark Chocolate and 200ml of Double Cream for a decadent upgrade.
Make it Vegetarian
Whilst it isn’t out of the realms of possibility anymore (Bacon Brownies ARE a thing!), this Chocolate Muscovado Cake is suitable for vegetarians without amendment!
Make it Vegan
This recipe is very easy to adapt as a vegan cake just make the following substitutions:
- Use a vegan dark chocolate.
- Swap the butter for vegan baking spread.
- Substitute 1 tbsp of flavourless oil (such as vegetable or sunflower) for each egg.
I haven’t tried using any of the other possible egg substitutes such as chia seeds or aquafaba. With this recipe being so forgiving in so many other ways, I’d be surprised if they didn’t work fairly well – just give it a go!
Make it Allergy Friendly
This recipe is free from nuts.
Dairy & Egg Free: To make this Chocolate Muscovado Cake suitable for dairy allergies, follow the vegan substitutes given above. Don’t replace the egg if this isn’t needed for dietary requirements.
Gluten Free: Using a gluten free flour would barely affect the outcome of the recipe. Swap it on a 1 for 1 basis to make the recipe suitable for gluten free diets.
Please note that this recipe may contain other allergens not referred to above and any variations suggested have not been tested unless otherwise stated. For more information regarding any dietary information provided on this website, please refer to my Nutritional Disclaimer.
Equipment Notes for Dense Chocolate Cake
I used my Kenwood Stand Mixer but a large mixing bowl and an electric hand whisk was my method of choice for many years and just as effective. It is a little harder with just a wooden spoon but most certainly can be done.
My recommendation is to use a 9″/23cm Cake Tin but you could use a smaller tin if you need. The cake will need a cook a little longer and you’ll end up with a smaller but deeper cake.
A comprehensive list of the equipment used to make this recipe is included in the main recipe card below. Click on any item to see an example. There are no hard and fast rules so many items can be sensibly substituted to achieve the same results.
To see more of my recommended kitchen appliances, have a look at my post featuring the appliances that I couldn’t live without.
It is also perfect inspiration for gifts for a budding cook in your life! Or to put on your own Christmas or Birthday list!
To see more of my recommended equipment items for new bakers, have a look at my post featuring all the essential equipment you might need.
It is also perfect inspiration for gifts for a budding baker in your life!
You know you can freeze sponge cakes really easily right? Just wrap the baked and cooled sponge in cling film then in a layer of foil (or place in a large resealable sandwich bag) and freeze. When you want to eat it, just thaw, add any decoration that you want and go.
This is also a great cake to make up to 4 days before you want to serve it as the cake is so lovely and moist, it actually improves rather than degrades. Good luck keeping it for that long though, you might need to make a spare!
Leftover Brown Sugar Chocolate Cake
I cannot advise you in good faith what to do with leftovers of this recipe. It has simply never happened. But if for some odd reason you do find that you made too much, any leftover cake is ideal to make my Russian Slice recipe.
Chocolate Muscovado Cake Tips
Do not panic that the batter has split or that there are lumps of sugar etc. Just keep going and I promise that the finished batter and cake will still be spot on. I said it was forgiving remember!
This rich Chocolate Cake is so easy to make and is a wonderful end to a meal served with a dollop of creme fraiche for an extra dollop of sophistication.
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you try making this cake – I want to know what you think and if you made any substitutions, how did it turn out?
Still Have Questions?
Simple! Just contact me and I will do my best to help as quickly as I am able. Head over to my Contact Me page, any of my social media channels or post a comment at the bottom of this page and I’ll see what I can do.
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More Cake Recipes
Dense Chocolate Muscovado Cake
- 250 g Salted Butter
- 375 g Dark Brown Muscovado Sugar
- 2 Egg
- 250 g Dark Chocolate (Bittersweet)
- 250 ml Water
- 200 g Plain Flour (All Purpose)
- 1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda (Baking Soda)
- 1 tsp Cocoa Powder (Dutch Processed) - Optional
- 1 tsp Icing Sugar (Confectioner’s Sugar) - Optional
- Preheat the oven to 180c fan | 200c | 390f or equivalent and put a kettle of water on to boil.
- Line a 23cm/9in cake tin.
- Weigh 250g Salted Butter and 375g Dark Brown Muscovado Sugar directly into a stand mixer bowl. Mix until well combined but don't whip the mixture – its doesn't want to be overly airy or fully creamed.
- Add 2 Eggs to the bowl and whizz again until combined. Use a spatula to wipe down the sides of the bowl.
- Break 250g Dark Chocolate up into a small bowl and microwave in 30 second bursts until fully melted. (Use a small pan on the hob if you have no microwave).
- Add the now melted chocolate to the butter/sugar/egg mix and again mix until fully combined.
- Measure 250ml Boiling Water from the kettle into a small jug. Also weigh 200g Plain Flour and 1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda into the now empty chocolate melting bowl.
- Add the water and flour to the cake batter about 1/3 of each at a time. Make sure it is fully combined.
- The batter will be very wet. Don't panic.
- Pour the batter into the lined cake tin and bake for 30 minutes (less for muffins and more for a layer cake or smaller but deeper tin. If you aren't a fan of gooey, then bake it a little longer. If you're barely disguising a love of cake batter, bake for a little bit less.)
- Leave the cake to cool and remove from the tin. It is quite a delicate cake so take care.
- Use a tea strainer sieve and cover the cake with 1 tsp Cocoa Powder and 1 tsp Icing Sugar if you wish to.
- Great served with a little crème fraîche.