Bruce Bogtrotter’s cake

by Juliet Sear

In light of Roald Dahl day, Borough Market Demo chef and baking expert Juliet Sear brings the infamous Matilda chocolate cake to life


For the sponge layers:
420g plain chocolate
420g soft butter (I prefer salted butter in a chocolate cake)
3 tsp vanilla bean paste
480g light muscovado sugar
6 eggs and 6 egg yolks, medium size beaten together
300g soured cream (full fat is best)
75g cocoa powder
375g self-raising flour

For the gooey chocolate frosting:
175ml water
50g dark brown muscovado sugar
260g unsalted butter, cubed
450g best-quality dark chocolate, finely chopped


Grease and line 3 x 10" round cake tins. If you don’t have 3, you can divide your mix and wait for each layer to cool, it will just take longer.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Gently melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl on medium heat for 1 min at a time, stirring until melted, or do it over a bain marie. Leave to cool while getting on with the next bit.

In a stand mixer using the paddle beater attachment, cream the butter, vanilla paste and sugar until paler in colour and fluffy—I love using light muscovado sugar because it’s unrefined and it gives a naturally fudgy, caramel flavour. You can do the beating by hand with a wooden spoon but it will take longer, or use an electric hand beater.

Reduce the speed to slow and gradually add the eggs, occasionally scraping down the sides to make sure you’ve got all the butter and sugar, until the egg mix is completely amalgamated. Don’t worry if it looks a bit curdled, this will disappear when you add the flour and cocoa.

Keeping the mixer on a slow speed, pour in the melted chocolate and mix. Then add the soured cream, mixing on slow for 20 secs or so. Lastly, add the cocoa powder to the flour and mix roughly with a metal spoon to distribute the cocoa evenly, then add this to the mixing bowl in 3 stages and gently mix until the flour/cocoa is just mixed in. Do not over beat, or your sponges might turn out heavy.

Now spoon ⅓ of the mixture into each prepared cake tin (I like to weigh mine in their tins to make sure they are all the same weight and will bake evenly—you should have roughly 800-820g per tin) and level off the top of each one with a spoon.

Pop in the oven and bake until JUST cooked, when a knife testing the centre of the sponge layer comes out a little pasty and the cakes are shrinking away from the tin edge a bit. This will take about 20-25 mins, but check after 15 mins to be safe as all ovens vary. Remove and cool in the tins on a wire rack or on top of cold oven hob rings.

While the cakes are cooling you can make the frosting (if you haven’t made it in advance) and then assemble the cake.

Place the water, sugar and butter in a saucepan on a low heat and melt gently, stirring occasionally. As soon as it comes to a gentle boil, take the mixture off the heat, add the chocolate and gently stir around so the chocolate is covered with the hot liquid. Leave to stand for 1 min to melt the chocolate, then whisk to mix thoroughly.

The mix will start out quite runny and you need to give it a good whisk every 10 mins or so while it is cooling. Once it is completely cool, you will have a lovely fudgy frosting ready to layer and cover your cakes.

To assemble the cake: place 1 cake layer on a plate or stand and slather over some frosting. Repeat with layer 2. Add the 3rd layer and smooth all around the sides with a palette knife to generously cover, then finish over with the top. Make lots of swirls and peaks with your coating—the rougher the better!

Recipe: Juliet Sear