This chocolate mud cake will cure any and all chocolate cravings. This cake is sinfully dense, rich and fudgy topped with a silky smooth chocolate ganache.
It’s also quite possibly the tallest single layer cake you’ll ever make!
You can mix up the cake batter in just one bowl (no electric mixer required)!
The secret to a dense and fudgy cake is to bake it low and slow. This cake is baked at 150 C (300 F) for about 1 hr and 30 minutes.
Ingredients in Mud Cake
- Unsalted butter: using unsalted butter allows you to control the amount of additional salt added to the recipe. If you are using salted butter, omit the added salt.
- Dark chocolate: use a high-quality dark chocolate suitable for melting and baking. Avoid unsweetened (99% etc.) chocolate as this will be too bitter.
- Can I use chocolate chips or melts? Yes. Make sure they are high quality (not compound chocolate) and suitable for melting. Some chocolate chips will be marked as “holds shape while baking” so make sure to avoid these brands as they will not melt down properly.
- Caster sugar / superfine sugar: this finer form of sugar will dissolve more rapidly into the cake batter and give you a fudgier cake with a tight crumb. You can use regular sugar, however note that it may give you a crisp crust and lighter texture.
- Brown sugar: I use soft light brown sugar but any form of brown sugar will do. Do NOT substitute with more regular sugar or you will get a lighter cake (similar to a regular chocolate cake).
- Instant coffee granules: coffee helps bring out the flavour of chocolate in baked goods. The cake will not taste like coffee, so don’t worry if you’re not a coffee fan. Omit if you don’t have any granules available.
- NOTE: the granules should be the type which dissolve in water.
- Milk: I use whole dairy milk. I haven’t yet tried this recipe with non-dairy milks, but do let me know in the comments if you have success with plant-based milk alternatives.
- Vanilla essence / vanilla extract: this brings out extra flavour in the chocolate mud cake.
- Plain flour / all-purpose flour
- Unsweetened cocoa powder: NOT hot cocoa powder. Avoid Dutch-process ‘cacao’ powder or other very bitter cocoa powders. It is best to use a brand which is designed for baking (Nestle, Hershey’s etc.).
- Baking powder: NOT baking soda. Check that your baking powder is IN DATE or else your cake has a greater chance of collapsing.
- Salt: I use ground sea salt but you can also use table salt.
How to Make Chocolate Mud Cake
1. Chop chocolate and butter and place in a large heat-proof bowl.
2. Melt together the butter and chocolate in the microwave (or over a bain-marie). Make sure to melt slowly in bursts (I do 1 minute on high, then 30 seconds, then further 10 seconds until melted) and stir well in between.
3. Stir in sugars and instant coffee granules.
4. The batter may be grainy after stirring in the sugar. That is okay!
5. Stir in the eggs until well combined. Keeping the eggs at room temperature will help prevent the batter from splitting or curdling.
6. Stir in the milk and vanilla. The batter may split at this point due to the cold temperature of the milk. To help prevent splitting, you should keep stirring as you add the milk in and/or use room-temperature milk if possible. NOTE that a split batter doesn’t really matter – it will still bake perfectly fine!
7. Sift over the dry ingredients. Sifting will ensure you have a smooth, well-formed batter. If you like, you can sift the ingredients into a different bowl then add them to the batter afterward.
8. Stir well and there you go… easy as cake! Your batter is now ready to bake. Don’t worry about the occasional lump or slightly grainy texture.
9. The cake will rise up quite a lot, so ensure your baking paper rises well above the top of the tin (I recommend at least 6 cm / 2 inches).
10. The cake is cooked on a low and slow temperature. Depending on the strength of your oven, the cooking time may vary +/- 15 minutes so always check the cake with a skewer in the centre. The cake is ready when the skewer comes out of the centre of the cake mostly clean or with just a few moist crumbs clinging.
11. Use a large serrated bread knife or cake levelling tool to even out the top of the cake. Due to the dense nature of mud cakes, they are prone to sinking slightly in the middle.
12. The cake should be reasonably flat on top.
For the Ganache
1. For the ganache: pour hot cream over the chopped chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir well until the mixture is properly combined.
2. Put the cooled cake on a wire rack over a baking tray to catch any excess ganache. Pour the ganache over the levelled cake and spread evenly with the back of a spoon. Refrigerate until the ganache is firm and matte and enjoy!
Top Tips & FAQs
What is mud cake?
- A dense, fudgy cake with a tight crumb.One of the most common misconceptions is that dense = dry. Mud cake is dense with a tight crumb (meaning the cake doesn’t crumble very easily when cut) but is extremely moist. It makes the perfect cake for decorating or entertaining!
Why is it called ‘mud cake’?
- The cake’s colour resembles the brown water of the Mississippi River.It is believed the mud cake originates in the southern states of the U.S. near the Mississippi River. I like to think that the cake is thick and dense, like walking through mud!
Why did my batter separate and go lumpy?
- The cold ingredients caused the butter to separate from the chocolate:if you add your cold eggs and milk all at one time it may cool the butter down and cause it to separate from the chocolate. To fix this:
- Use room temperature eggs and milk, if possible.
- Stir the batter as you add in each egg, and slowly stream in the milk while stirring.
- NOTE!The cake will still turn out perfectly fine even if the batter has separated at once stage during the baking process. It shouldn’t affect the overall flavour or texture of the cake once baked.
Can I turn this mud cake into a two-layer cake?
- Yes.Split the batter into two 8 inch (20 cm) tins and bake together for approximately 40 minutes, checking with a skewer to see if it is cooked through.
- Mud cakes are excellent for stacking and decorating.They make an excellent base for a wedding or birthday cake and can be easily shaped or stacked.
How long does mud cake last?
You can keep the mud-cake unrefrigerated in an air-tight container for up to 7 days. However, It will stay freshest in the refrigerator and may keep for an extra few days.
I personally think the mud cake tastes better on the second day after baking.
Can I freeze a cooked mud cake?
Yes! Mud cake freezes very well. Wrap the whole cake (or portions) tightly in clingwrap and place in a freezer or zip-loc bag. Keep frozen for up to 6 months. Thaw for 6 hours or overnight at room temperature before eating.
This cake keeps very well un-refrigerated in an airtight container. I personally think it tastes even fudgier on the second day!
For the Mud Cake
- 250 g (9 oz / 1 cup) unsalted butter, roughly chopped
- 200 g (8 oz) dark chocolate block, roughly chopped
- 1 cup (240 g) caster sugar
- 1 cup (220 g) brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 tsp (3 g) instant coffee granules, optional
- 1 ½ cups (375 mL) milk
- 3 large eggs (approx. 55 g / 2 oz each)
- 1 tbsp (20 g) vanilla essence
- 1 ½ cups (225 g) plain flour
- ½ cup (50 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp (16 g) baking powder
- 1 tsp (5 g) salt
For the Chocolate Ganache
- ¼ cup (63 mL) thickened (pouring) cream
- ¼ cup (63 mL) milk
- 200 g (8 oz) dark chocolate block, finely chopped
For the Mud Cake
- Preheat the oven to 150°C / 300°F (fan/convection) or 160°C / 320°F (standard). Grease and line a 20 cm (8 inch) round cake tin. The cake rises very high when baking, so make sure that the baking paper rises at least 6 cm (2 inches) above the top of the tin.
- Place chopped butter and chocolate in a large heat-proof bowl. Microwave for 1 minute on high power. Stir well. Microwave for another 30 seconds. Stir until the chocolate is completely smooth and melted. Microwave in further 10 second bursts, if needed, to completely melt the chocolate.
- Add sugars and instant coffee granules. Stir well. Add milk, eggs and vanilla. Stir until well combined.
- Sift over flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Stir until the batter is well combined.
- Pour into the prepared tin. Bake for 80-90 minutes (1 hr 20 mins - 1 hr 30 mins) or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out with only a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Avoid opening the oven door during cooking as much as possible or the cake will sink in the middle.
- Allow to cool for 20 minutes in the tin before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the Ganache
- Stir together milk and cream in a small heat-proof jug. Microwave for 1 minute on high power or until it just begins to bubble (but is not boiling over).
- Place the finely chopped chocolate in a separate small bowl. Pour the hot cream and milk over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir together until smooth and well combined. If the chocolate doesn't melt completely, microwave the ganache in 10 seconds bursts until smooth.
- Using a large serrated bread knife, level out the top of the cake so it is completely flat. Pour the ganache over the top of the cooled cake, using the back of a spoon to spread it evenly over the sides of the cake. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until ganache is firm and matte. The ganache can also set at room temperature (if your house is reasonably cool), but it may take longer.
- Slice up and enjoy! I find that this cake tastes even fudgier on the second day.
- Store the cake un-refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 7 days.
Substitutions & Tips
- Dark chocolate: you can substitute 200 g (8 oz) of chopped dark chocolate blocks with 200 g (8 oz) of dark chocolate chips for either the cake or the ganache. I don't recommend using milk chocolate as it will taste overly sweet.
- Instant coffee granules: coffee enhances the chocolate flavour of the cake. It won't make the cake taste like coffee. You can omit the coffee if you like.
- Ganache: this ganache isn't overly sweet so it makes a good topping for the dense and rich chocolate mud cake. You can use your favourite frosting or serve the mud cake plain with whipped cream or ice cream.
- Make sure that the baking paper rises at least 6 cm (2 inches) above the top of the cake tin. The cake will rise quite high.
- Why did my cake sink in the middle? Make sure not to open the oven door until the cake has been baking for at least 70 minutes (1 hr 10 mins). Opening the oven door too early will release heat from the oven and may cause the cake to sink in the centre.
Nutrition Information:Serving Size: 1/12th of Cake (with Ganache)
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 581Total Fat: 31.5gSaturated Fat: 18.9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5.5gCholesterol: 91mgSodium: 342.2mgCarbohydrates: 67.7gFiber: 1.8gSugar: 54.4gProtein: 8.4g