Rustic chocolate layer cake

Every year I make a birthday cake for my dad. And every year, it’s the same recipe base: chocolate espresso cake with dark chocolate ganache. This year I attempted, as always, to make the ganache frosting smooth. This year, as always, I failed to do so.

Luckily, rustic-looking things are a trend, especially around this time of year, and we also had some rosemary and raw hazelnuts on hand. I may not be the best cake decorator, but I’m not the worst!

Warning: this is a super rich cake and it’s not very sweet. Choose chocolate at your own discretion and do not feel pressured to eat the rosemary.


for the cake

  • 1 ⅛ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream

for the ganache

  • 8 ounces dark chocolate (I used 88% cacao)
  • 8 ounces heavy cream


Preheat the oven to 350º F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt, then set it aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer* beat the cooled butter and the sugar together for 2-3 minutes or until it’s light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, making sure to scrape down the sides after each addition.

Alternate adding in the dry ingredients and the sour cream, starting with dry and ending with dry. After the last addition, scrape the sides and finish mixing by hand.

Pour the batter into two six inch pans, greased and lined with parchment paper.

Bake the cakes for 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer placed in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Let cool completely, then chill in the fridge before decorating.

In the meantime, heat the heavy cream to a boil, and chop the dark chocolate into small pieces and place it in a heatsafe bowl. Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate, and cover the bowl with a plate to keep the heat in. After around 10 minutes, take the plate off and mix the ganache. Let it sit at room temperature until it’s cool but spreadable.

Level the tops of both the cakes, spread ganache between the layers**, then coat the outside of the cake with more ganache. You should have used about ⅔ of the ganache at this point.

Pop the cake in the fridge to set, then add more ganache and create a bark-like pattern by running your spatula from bottom to top and top to bottom, creating vertical lines.

I topped the cake with a sprig of rosemary, some hazelnuts and chocolate shavings. Keep the cake refrigerated until 30 minutes before serving.

* you can also use a hand mixer

** I just used two layers, but you can cut each cake into two layers to make a total of four


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s