Ombre Mocha Layer Cake

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Prep 1hr (+45min cooling and 1-1hr30min chilling time)Bake 20minMakes 12-14 serves

If you're a chocoholic this cake is heaven. And if you're not, it's still heaven! Wickedly rich and strikingly handsome, this layered centrepiece demands attention no matter what the celebration.


Cake layers
melted butter, to grease
250g butter, cubed, softened
330g (1½ cups) caster sugar
3 teaspoons natural vanilla essence or extract
4 eggs
225g (1½ cups) plain flour
225g (1½ cups) self-raising flour
250ml (1 cup) milk
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules dissolved in 1 tablespoon boiling water, cooled

Dark chocolate layer
30g (¼ cup) Dutch cocoa powder, sifted and combined with 60ml (¼ cup) hot tap water, cooled

Milk chocolate layer
1½ tablespoons Dutch cocoa powder, sifted and combined with 1½ tablespoons hot tap water, cooled

Light chocolate layer
2 teaspoons Dutch cocoa powder, sifted and combined with 2 teaspoons hot tap water, cooled

Whipped chocolate ganache
500g good-quality dark chocolate (45-54% cocoa), chopped
300ml pure (pouring / thin) cream

Chocolate drip icing
100g good-quality dark chocolate (45-54% cocoa), chopped
100ml pure (think / pouring) cream
2 tablespoons corn syrup

  1. To make the Cake layers, preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C fan-forced). Grease four shallow 20cm round cake tins with melted butter and line the bases with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Prepare the Dark, Milk and Light chocolate layer mixtures and set aside.
  3. Use an electric mixer to beat the butter, sugar and vanilla in a large mixing bowl until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition (the mixture will look curdled at this stage).
  4. Sift together both the flours. Combine the milk and coffee mixture. Add half the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on lowest possible speed until just combined. Add the milk and coffee mixture and beat on lowest possible speed until just combined and then beat in the remaining flour mixture until just combined.
  5. Divide the cake batter between four bowls (each will have about 360 g of mixture). Add the Dark chocolate layer mixture to one portion and stir gently to combine. Add the Milk chocolate layer mixture to one portion and stir gently to combine. Add the Light chocolate layer mixture to one portion and stir gently to combine. Leave the fourth portion as it is
  6. Spoon each of the batters into a prepared tin and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Swap the cake tins around and bake for a further 5 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centres comes out clean.
  7. Stand the cakes in the tins for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool (this will take about 30 minutes).
  8. To make the Whipped chocolate ganache, put the chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water). Stir often with a metal spoon just until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Immediately remove the bowl from the saucepan, cover with plastic wrap and place the fridge for 1-1½ hours, stirring briefly about every 5 minutes, or until cooled and thickened to a spreadable consistency. Use an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment to whisk the chocolate mixture in a medium bowl on low speed for 1-2 minutes or until light and fluffy (be careful not to over whisk).
  9. To assemble the cake, set aside about a quarter of the Whipped chocolate ganache in a bowl for piping. Place the Dark chocolate cake layer, top side down on a cake stand or serving plate. Spread evenly with about ⅓ cup of the remaining Whipped chocolate ganache. Repeat with the remaining cake layers (from darkest to lightest) with about ⅓ cup of the ganache between each. Spread the remaining buttercream over the top and sides of the cake, using a large palette knife to smooth. Place the cake in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to chill.
  10. To make the Chocolate drip glaze, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set aside. Combine the cream and corn syrup in a small saucepan and heat over a medium heat, stirring frequently, until almost simmering. Pour over the chocolate and set aside for 1 minutes. Stir until smooth and well combined. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until almost cooled to room temperature.
  11. Spoon the Chocolate drip glaze onto the center of the chilled cake and use the back of a metal tablespoon to spread to cover. Gently push some of the glaze over the edge all the way around to form a drip pattern. Set aside in a cool spot for about 15 minutes or until the glaze is set before cutting.
Baker's Tips
  • This cake will keep in an airtight container at room temperature in a cool spot for up to 3 days.
How to decorate a cake with a drip glaze

There are a few things to keep in mind when creating a luscious glossy drip glaze on a cake.

Make sure the iced cake has been chilled for at least 30 minutes before decorating with the glaze as this will help the drips down the side of the cake set before reaching the base of the cake.

Gradually spoon the slightly warm (it should be slightly warmer than room temperature) glaze onto the centre of the cake, allowing it to flow naturally towards the edge.

Then use the back of a metal tablespoon to carefully ‘push’ the glaze towards the outside, smoothing the top and allowing small amounts of the glaze to flow over the edge and down the side of the cake to form a drip pattern.

The key is to take it slowly, not add too much glaze at one time and don’t push too firmly with the spoon as the drips will become large and cover more of the side of the cake than you want.


This recipe is from Anneka's SBS Food online column Bakeproof: Celebration Cakes. Click here for more Bakeproof columns and recipes.

Photography by Alan Benson.