Mum's Never Fail Chocolate Cake

This recipe is for the chocolate cake my mother made when I was a child.  I have seen her make it in a roasting dish, quadrupling the recipe and it disappear in less time than it took to make.  It's great because it's egg free and can be made dairy free as well.  If you need it to be gluten free see the gluten free version.

It's a very traditional recipe, the only real surprise if Golden Syrup. I'll talk about that a little later.

This cake is slightly squidgy but also very light. It makes a wonderful birthday cake, especially for people with allergies. I often double the recipe, bake it in two 18cm round tins and put (mock) cream and jam in the middle.

Seen here, sporting delicious smooth chocolate icing.

Why do I love this recipe so much?

I've never, and I mean never, had a failure. Also, it's so simple and so delicious.

All you do is melt the first four ingredients in a large pot, mix the milk and baking soda together, throw that in, then add the dry ingredients. Honestly, it couldn't be simpler. Make sure you read all the instructions below to get the full picture.

You've just got to try this recipe.

I promise - you won't be sorry.


While I generally use beautiful New Zealand butter in this recipe, I have also used butter alternatives with no adverse effects. Just use the same quantities and treat it the same way. Some oil based spreads do tend to go a little oily when you try to cream them with sugar. That's not an issue in this recipe because you just melt all the ingredients.


As you know, I'm all about the alternatives. I have made this recipe with both Almond Milk and Soy Milk. It's always turned out well which makes it a good recipe if you have a dairy allergy.

Golden Syrup

Golden Syrup is a wonderful sticky syrup, not unlike black treacle in consistency, although not quite as thick.

When I first moved to Canada I was really surprised that I couldn't go into a store and buy Golden Syrup. I couldn't imagine a World without it. I tried this recipe with Maple Syrup but it just didn't work. So, I went on a hunt for Golden Syrup and I found it in the British shop. It was a different brand - Lyle's but it worked just as well. If you can't find any Golden Syrup, you could try making this one. I have never tried this recipe so can't comment on how well it will work in this recipe, but looking at it and the ingredients, it seems like it would.

Baking Soda

You will note that this recipe doesn't have any baking powder. Instead it relies on the baking soda to rise. Unlike some other recipes you don't heat the milk before you add the baking soda, you just mix it together, then add it in.

Honestly, this recipe couldn't be easier.


People will tell you that good quality cocoa is a must. I've made this recipe with expensive dark Dutch cocoa powder as well as the cheaper brands. Either works equally well. Make sure that it's unsweetened, pure cocoa powder and has no additives.



  • 125 grams butter
  • 1 small cup of white sugar
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius (350 fahrenheit).
  2. To prepare the 20cm (8 inch) square tin grease it with butter, then line it with parchment paper.
  3. Melt butter, sugar, 1/2 cup of milk and golden syrup in a large saucepan, stirring often and being careful not to burn. Ensure the sugar has dissolved.
  4. Mix together the baking soda and remaining milk.
  5. Add the baking soda/milk mixture to the melted ingredients and stir well. The mixture should foam up a little.
  6. Sift the flour and cocoa together and add this to the melted ingredients.
  7. Stir well with a wooden to ensure that all the ingredients are incorporated. You don't need to be too fussy here - some lumps are acceptable but the mixture should be overall smooth.
  8. Pour into the prepared tin.
  9. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
  10. Turn out onto a cooling rack.
  11. When completely cool, ice with chocolate icing.

September 17, 2020