Chocolate Cake for Mother’s Day

Unfortunately Mother’s Day falls on May 8. In South India the dog days start in the first week of May. It is a challenge to use butter icing when you are experiencing a heat wave. The cake will have to be refrigerated every now and then otherwise the icing will begin to run. The butter icing mix will also have to be cooled frequently while icing the cake or else it will not retain its shape. With all these thermal challenges the cake was iced, photographed, then gobbled up by the whole family.

Chocolate Cake for Mothers Day - Kalas Kalai

Chocolate Cake for Mother’s Day

The chocolate cake recipe for this cake is adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Devil’s Food Cake. I made several changes to it to suit the Indian kitchen. The amounts given in grams were changed to volume as many of us do not possess kitchen scales – but I do :). Butter is available in 100 g packs, and therefore I did not meddle with that. Nigella had used muscovado sugar, which is not available here. I experimented with alternatives and found that soft brown sugar worked very well. The same goes for castor sugar; though it is available in select stores, it is very expensive. Instead I’ve used refined sugar which can be bought from any store. I have added salt to bring out the sweetness of the cake. I mixed the batter the traditional way, using a bowl and a ladle, as I do not have a blender for this purpose.

Nutritive Value

The cake itself gives moderate amount of energy and protein and the small quantity of butter used makes it low fat. But then, the butter icing used raises the energy and the fat content of the cake and gives great satiety value.  Those with lactose intolerance may safely consume this cake as there is no milk in it.


For the Cake

  • 2 C Maida (Cake Flour/Plain Flour) + extra for dusting
  • ½ tsp Baking Powder
  • ½ tsp Baking Soda
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • 125 g Unsalted Butter (1 ¼ sticks) + extra for greasing
  • ½ C + 2 T Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract/Essence
  • ¼ C Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • ½ C Soft Brown Sugar
  • 250 ml boiling Water

For the Icing/Frosting

  • 2-3 C Icing Sugar
  • ½ – ¾ C unsalted/cooking butter, or more
  • ⅓ C Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Essence



  1. Place the brown sugar and cocoa powder in a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Add boiling water. Whisk till the sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool.
  3. Prepare a 9” round cake pan by greasing with butter and dusting with flour.
  4. Cream the butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
  5. Add the sugar and salt to the butter and continue creaming till the sugar is dissolved.
  6. Add the vanilla extract and blend.
  7. Beat the eggs well. Add to the butter and sugar mixture and blend well.
  8. Add a small amount of flour to the butter and sugar mixture. Blend and add some of the now cooled cocoa and brown sugar mixture. Repeat this, alternating the flour and cocoa mixture till they are used up.
  9. Pour the batter into the pan. Bake in an oven preheated to 180 °C for about 40 minutes.
  10. Remove when the cake has separated from the pan or when the cake tester comes out clean.


  1. Cream the butter in a bowl. Add the vanilla, and blend well.
  2. Sift the icing sugar, breakdown any lumps with a rolling pin. Or pulse the icing sugar in a mixie/blender for 10 seconds; sift if necessary.
  3. Mix the cocoa powder with the icing sugar.
  4. Add the icing sugar little by little to the butter while creaming till a very thick consistency is obtained.
  5. Apply the icing using a palette knife on the top and sides of the cake.
  6. Using a star nozzle, apply icing in a scalloped trellis pattern. Fill alternate squares with stars.


  1. The cocoa and brown sugar mixture must be prepared first to allow time for it to cool.
  2. The cake is not too sweet due to the brown sugar. Therefore you will have to use a large amount of cocoa in the icing; otherwise, the sweetness of the icing sugar will overpower the taste of the cake.
  3. The cake has a velvety texture; refrigerating it makes it compact and dense. Therefore, allow the cake to warm up for about half an hour before serving.



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