chocolate buttermilk layer cake | the ultimate birthday cake | a donna hay recipe

I was 10 when the ‘twinnie bubbies’ were born. I can still remember seeing Dad walk through the school playground at little lunch searching for Pete, Elles and I to take us to meet our new little sisters in hospital. We drove the whole way to the ‘San’ with the windows down, honking the horn and screaming with delight, so excited to meet them. That was on this day, 23 years ago.

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Thanks Jess for digging up this pic. I can’t tell them apart here.

Screen Shot 2018-08-29 at 2.30.33 pm.pngAunty Ali and Aunty Case, taken back in school days. 

Recently we were out in Balmain having a bit of a Sunday sesh (a rare occasion these days post kiddies) and were playing a game where we all had to say ‘what’ or ‘who’ we’d come back as in another life.

I said I’d come back as a long distance swimmer. A bit out of left field, I admit. I’m not sure why I said this. Maybe because I can still remember how exciting it was when Kieran Perkins won the 1500m at the Olympics. (Or maybe it had more to do with the few bottles of wine we’d put away that afternoon). Anyway, nevertheless, that was my answer.

Our much loved big brother Pete’s response (known for his terrific sense of humour and witty remarks) was “to come back as a bloke with fewer sisters”. Gosh did this get a laugh out of us all.

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Pete and his sisters; Case, me, Pete, Elles and Ali. 

So in honour of the twins birthday, I’m cooking up a storm tonight. And gosh does Donna Hay sure know how to make a birthday cake. I found this recipe for her chocolate buttermilk layer cake online and it’s really a lot easier to make than it looks. Although Case lives in Sydney (so will sadly be missing out) I’m sure my girls will help Aunty Ali blow out the candles for her too.

So let the birthday celebrations begin.

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Dad, Ali, Mum and Case. 

Love you twinnie bubbies. xx


chocolate buttermilk layer cake | a donna hay recipe

190 grams of butter, chopped in to cubes
1 1/2 cups of water
1/2 cup of cocoa, sifted
3 x cups of plain flour, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons of bicarb soda, sifted
3 x cups of caster sugar
3 x eggs
3/4 cups of buttermilk*
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

chocolate cream cheese icing

100 grams of butter, softened
500 grams of cream cheese
2 x cups of icing sugar, sifted
1/2 cup of cocoa, sifted

  • Preheat the oven to 160℃ and grease and line two small round cake tins.
  • Add the butter, water and cocoa to a medium sized saucepan and heat over a medium heat until the butter has melted. (Stirring with a wooden spoon as it melts).
  • In a mixing bowl, sift the flour and bicarb soda together and add the sugar.
  • Pour the wet chocolate mixture in to the flour, whisking constantly until combined nicely.
  • Add the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla and continue to whisk until combined.
  • Pour the batter in to the prepared tins and bake for 65 minutes or until a skewer is inserted and comes out clean. (Change the cakes around half way through the cooking time so that they cook evenly).
  • Once cooked, let the cakes cool still in their tins for ten minutes and then turn them out on a wire rack to cool completely.
  • To make the icing – simply add the butter and cream cheese to a stand mixer and beat for 6 minutes until creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to incorporate everything properly. Then add the sifted icing sugar and cocoa and mix for another 6 minutes until combined.
  • When ready to assemble the cake, using a sharp serrated knife, slice the cakes in half. You will also need to slice the top of the cake off so that you get each cake round as flat as possible. (Reserve the cake that you discard to dip in the icing as a treat to eat now).
  • You want to place the bottom layer of cake on whatever plate or cake stand you want to present the cake on, and then add a good dollop of icing, spreading it as evenly as possible** and going right to the edges of the cake. (It looks nice if the icing spills out over the sides a little bit).
  • Keep layering so that you have icing between each cake round and icing smothered over the top. I use my knife to ‘swirl’ the top layer of icing.

Lo’s tips

  • *If you don’t have any buttermilk, you can use regular milk and add a dash of white vinegar, to ‘sour’ it.
  • **I get a mug of boiling water from the kettle to dip my knife in to so that the icing spreads more easily.
  • This is a good recipe to make with the littlies as the cake mixture doesn’t require the mix master so little hands can whisk the batter.
  • Obviously go nuts decorating this cake however you see fit. Add sprinkles, smarties, fresh strawberries or whatever you like.
  • And don’t forget the birthday candles!




















If you make this chocolate buttermilk layer cake, please leave your comments below. xx




  1. Gosh I remember that all too well but I’m pretty sure dad was running through the playground. Love you twinnies! And sorry Pete but you’re stuck with us. Xxx

    Liked by 1 person

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