This is called “Birthday” cake because I’ve made it for so many birthdays that its what my family expects when we want something to put all those candles on. I’ve served this to many people and everyone who likes chocolate likes this cake. The icing tastes almost like fudge so it’s great for those with a sweet tooth (and those without, just skip that delicious fudge icing).  And since today is Greg’s birthday, here it is.  Happy Birthday Chef!


Chocolate Birthday Cake

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

This is Silver Palate's Decadent Chocolate Cake. It's rich & moist -- and perfect for birthdays. Great with vanilla or coffee ice cream to complement the chocolate cake and icing.


  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 C granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 C. sour cream
  • 2 C. less 2 T flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • Chocolate Frosting


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10″ springform pan, and line the bottom with parchment paper
2. In a large bowl, pour the boiling water over the butter (possibly melted)and chocolate and allow that to sit until melted
3. Mix the sour cream and the baking soda. Set aside.
4. Once the chocolate/butter mix is melted, add in sugar, then the egg yolks, blending after each addition.
5. Add in the sour cream/baking soda mix and blend. A large whisk works well.
6. Gently stir in flour and baking powder
7. Whip the eggs whites until stiff but not dry. Stir in 1/4 of the whites, then gently fold in the remaining whites
8. Bake for 40-50 minutes until center spring back easily
9. Cool completely and top with chocolate fudge icing or an icing of your choice.

Tips/Lessons Learned:

    • Warming the butter or even partially melting it in the micro wave before adding the chocolate and boiling water makes the second step go a little faster and a little smoother
    • I’ve almost always used a spring form pan, but the original recipe calls for a bundt pan which also works, but every once in a while, the cake sticks and comes out in piece; so I almost always use the springform
    • The parchment paper on the bottom is optional, but pretty much guarantees that you’ll get your cake out in one piece
    • When the cake comes out, immediately run a knife around the outside. When it’s cooled, remove the outside rim, flip the cake onto one hand, remove the parchment and flip the cake onto the serving plate. Might be a little tricky the first time, but you’ll get the hang of it.
    • I recommend using full fat sour cream — fat free could change the texture
    • Trick on cooking time is to leave the cake in long enough for the center to spring back when touched, but not so long that there is any scent of burnt cake. It’s a fine balance. Too early and the center falls (which you can remedy with a lot of icing to fill the gap) but too late and it dries out the cake or worse, burns the outside (in which case, use a serrated knife to slice off any burnt parts before you ice.
    • The chocolate cake is rich enough that if you want something to go with your mid-afternoon coffee, skip the icing and just sprinkle with some confectioners’ sugar

Full credit goes to The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook. Originally published in 1985. And thanks to my friend Margaret for introducing me to this recipe many years ago.