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Just like my little guy, I have inherited my family’s sweet tooth. Being French, pastries, cakes, biscuits – anything baked, really – is right up my alley. However, I have to admit that while I find all these things quite irresistible, I don’t like them when they are too sweet. Paradoxical, no? One thing is certain, nine years on and my taste buds are still not used to the Australian norm. I find Australian food mostly too sweet to my taste – I still can’t get used to how sweet things like tomato ketchup and soft drinks are! I guess that for some things, you can take the girl out of France but you can’t take France out of the girl.

Chocolate Birthday Cake (2)

How does this relate to today’s post, you will ask? Well, on the week-end we celebrated Elliot’s birthday with our family and friends. Birthday cakes always come covered with icing but because of the reasons stated above, I’m usually of the mind that icing is a waste of a perfectly good cake. This week-end though, I found an icing recipe that was both tasty and not overly sweet – and it had just the right texture: nice and smooth, making it easy to spread but also thick enough that it would not droop and was easy to shape. Combined with my now traditional birthday cake recipe, it was a fantastic result. So today I bring you my perfect birthday cake recipe. I hope you like it:

Chocolate Birthday Cake

Chocolate Birthday Cake (1)


  • 250g unsalted butter, chopped and softened
  •  1 ¼ cups sugar*
  •  4 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups self-raising flour
  • 1 cup plain flour
  •  ¼ cup cocoa
  •  1 cup milk
  •  1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream cheese icing:

    • 100g unsalted butter, softened and chopped
    •  500g cream cheese, chopped
    •  2 cups (320g) icing sugar mixture, sifted
    • ½ cup cocoa, sifted

Chocolate Birthday Cake (3)

Preheat your oven at 180 degrees C.

Cream the butter until smooth. Add sugar gradually and beat until the mixture is light. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Sift flours and cocoa and combine.

Add flours (in 4 parts) to the mixture, alternating with milk and vanilla. Beat well after each addition.

Put mixture into 2 x 20cm round greased and lined cake tins. Bake at 180 degrees C for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in it comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

To make the icing, put the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl and beat for 6-8 minutes or until pale and creamy. Add the icing sugar and cocoa and beat for another 6-8 minutes or until pale and fluffy.

Trim the top of the cakes; spread some icing evenly on top of the first cake. Place the second cake on top and spread the icing all over the top and around the sides. Decorate as you wish.

*Note 1: Original recipe says 2 cups sugar but as I always reduce the amount of sugar in any recipe, I only used 1 ¼ cups. Your call.

Note 2: I use the same recipe for cupcakes. Just bake them for 17-20 minutes.

Note 3: For a vanilla version of the cake (or cupcakes), use 1 ¼ cups plain flour and no cocoa.