When I was little, my mum made had three cakes she would make. First, an apple tea cake (unbelievably amazing), secondly, a cake she names 'Festival cake' - a butter cake obscenely bright with sploges of pink, purple, red, green, yellow and blue. This cake was always a hit with friends and I think my mum thrived on the reactions when she cut into it! I think we've probably realised that using whole bottles of food colouring for a 6 year old's birthday cake isn't the best idea, so that cake has officially been archived in the 'it was OK in the 90s but not OK now' file! Her other cake was a simple chocolate cake which could be whipped up at a minute's notice, with mostly basic ingredients that were in the pantry and fridge! It was always coated with a thick layer of coffee-spiked chocolate icing and topped with mounds of shredded coconut! Just typing this now brings back memories of licking the whisk and bowl, whilst standing on a chair in the kitchen! I guess this is where it all began and where many of our food journeys begin! Podding broad beans also instantly takes be back to my childhood, but that's for another day. 

The idea of simplicity, comfort and that sometimes you just don't have that couverture chocolate or creme fraiche in your house, is at the heart of this recipe! As I was cooking and writing the recipe, as I always do simultaneously, I was tasting the batter, and I just knew when it was right, close in taste and texture to my mum's all those years ago! This cake is one that can sit on your bench for a few days, nibbling away when you have that craving! Or a perfect one to make when that four-tiered cake you tried to make just didn't work – I've definitely been there! This is the kind of cake you can make over and over, and never tire of! Well, after nearly 30 years, I sure haven't! 

I've made this cake in a 24cm bundt pan but if you want to make it in a square or round tin, just adjust the cooking time, as a round or square pan will require 5-10 minutes longer!

for my mum x


2 eggs

200g caster sugar

1tsp vanilla extract

250ml buttermilk (if you don't have buttermilk, simple squeeze the juice of half a lemon into 250ml and allow to sit on the bench for 10-15 minutes before using)

150ml vegetable oil

100ml cooled espresso, plus 1-2tbsp extra

50g dutch press cocoa powder

300g self raising flour


70g icing sugar

20g dutch press cocoa


Toasted shaved or shredded coconut

butter, for greasing

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Generously butter the bundt tin, being sure to get into every nook and cranny! Bundt cakes are notorious for sticking!

2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla until pale and thick. Add in the buttermilk, oil and espresso. Whisk til combined. 

3. Sift over the cocoa and self raising flour and stir until just combined. Pour into prepared tin and bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted. Allow to cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes, then invert onto a cake rack. 

4. Meanwhile, prepare the icing by sifting the icing sugar and cocoa into a medium bowl. Add the extra espresso, a little at a time, until you have a thick but viscous icing. Adjust if necessary with extra icing sugar and cocoa, and more espresso or milk if needed. It should have the consistency of of thickened cream. 

5. When the cake is completely cooled, drizzle the icing over the cake. Top with the toasted coconut and serve!