Black Magic Cake and Chocolate Buttercream — A bittersweet end.


I’m a bit behind on my posting, so I’m afraid the recipes I post won’t be in chronological baking order.  But I’m sure no one will mind. ;)

So after a week off of posting, I’d like to start with this one: the Black Magic Cake with Chocolate Buttercream.  I made this cake as a farewell to my coworkers at the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion, the kickass peeps of the molecular diagnostics department.


In a sappy shoutout to all of you, I’d like to formally declare that you rocked my world and made coming to work a pleasure everyday.  Thanks for putting up with my stupid mistakes and shenanigans as I navigated my way around the lab, learning what the heck pyrosequencers, nested-PCR, and easyMags were.  It will be a long time yet before I forget to put on a blanket onto my plate when I do real-time PCR. :P

All summer I’ve been bringing in my various creations, from my Sugar Cookie Bars, to the Marbled Chocolate Almond Brownies, and even a Zebra cake!  But since I was leaving, I decided that something special was in order.  Deciding on chocolate cake, I turned to my recipe for the Black Magic Cake.  I made this back in June for my birthday party and it was divine.  I don’t know how else to put it except to say it’s like eating chocolate velvet…


And it was Cedric's birthday too!

I also decided to use Em’s Favourite Buttercream from The Repressed Pastry Chef (check it out!), but tweak it a little bit for my chocolatey needs.  As I mentioned the last time I made this icing, I wanted to try it with all butter instead of the butter/shortening combo.  As colour didn’t matter and I didn’t need the snowy white icing I also used regular brown vanilla.  Man, was this icing A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.  Yes, that good.  My dad complained that I never make icing like this for the family and I practically had to shoo him away so he wouldn’t stick is finger in the bowl. :P

cake leveller

I also had the opportunity to test out my new cake leveller!  A nifty little thing from Wilton, it is basically a metal arch with a thin piece of wire strung between the two pillars.  You can adjust the height of the wire and gently saw through your cake to achieve those flat, perfect layers that make bakery cakes look so stunning.  It also means that your cake layers won’t be sliding all over the place when you ice your cake.  Goodbye embarassaing tooth picks and sloppy, uneven layers. :)  The best part is, it cost about a fiver.  /does a little dance. Stay tuned: I’ll show you soon what you can create with the cake scraps and leftover icing.

So with out further ado, the “Goodbye Mol Diag” Black Magic Cake!


Black Magic Cake
adapted from


  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease, coat with cocoa powde, and line with parchment/grease proof/wax paper two 9 inch round cake pans.
  2. In large bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center.
  3. Add eggs, coffee, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. Batter will be thin. Pour into prepared pans.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 to 40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and finish cooling on a wire rack. Fill and frost as desired.

Chocolate Buttercream Icing

adapted from The Repressed Pastry Chef


  • 1 lb (2 cups) of butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 4 1/2 cups of icing sugar
  • 1/2 cup approx of cocoa powder
  • 4-6 tbsp of cold milk


Cream butter and vanilla together.  Set aside.  In another medium sized bowl, sift in icing sugar to remove lumps.  Sift in cocoa powder and mix thoroughly with a spoon.  Beating slowly at first, gradually add the icing sugar to the butter mixture.  Add milk 1 tbsp at a time until icing is at desired consistency. Makes about 5 cups, plenty to ice and cover a 2 layer 9″ round cake.


Using the cake leveller, carefully and using gentle sawing motions, remove the top “dome” of the cake.  With cut side facing up, place the bottom layer onto cake platter.  Scoop a large spatula full of icing onto the centre of the layer and smooth out towards the edges, leaving about a 1/2 gap between the icing and the edge of the cake.  Add as much or as little icing as you want, keeping in mind that your remaining icing will have to cover your entire cake.

Place your second layer directly above your first layer, cut side facing down.  You should now have a beautiful cake with a perfectly flat top.  Place a large scoopful of icing onto the centre of the lop layer.  Using gentle circular motions, spread out the icing towards the edges of the cake.  Be sure that your spatula or knife never touches the surface of the cake or you will get ugly crumbs stuck in your icing!  To avoid this, you can first add a crumb coat if you like.

Once the top has been iced, scoop some more icing near the edge of the cake and gently push it over the edge of the cake.  Using smooth motions, spread the icing around the edges of the cake, turning the plate as you go around.

Once your cake has it’s basic layer icing, the sky’s the limit as to what you can add!  I piped a row of stars and added a few chocolate flowers to my cake, but please be creative!



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