Violet Brown Sugar Chocolate Cake with Treacle Fudge Frosting Recipe

Our neighbours welcomed a cute new flatmate recently — a baby.  Many visitors bestow infants with onesies or hats topped with animal ears, but I like to treat the parents. Parents love cake. When their little girl's name was revealed I was instantly inspired to find some crystallised 'Violet' petals to add a personalised touch to a cake recipe I've been eager to try. Almost nine months later (new parents are quite busy!) Violet Brown Sugar Chocolate Cake was born in my kitchen. 

Sure, the kid couldn't eat any of it (she has many years ahead to juggle a conflicted love affair with desserts) but she seemed happy enough watching us scoff thick chocolaty slices as she gnawed on green beans.

There's something comforting about a loaf cake. I feel at peace knowing that all I have to do once the batter is prepared is tip it into the tin, bake and if I'm in the mood, ice the roof. No fiddly layers or delicate edges here. There are some brilliant little tricks in this recipe. Stirring broken up chocolate into boiling water allows you to skip a ban-marie style step, and adding a bit of bicarbonate (baking soda) to the chocolate creates a fluffy crumb with a reddish brown hue.

This cake and frosting recipe can be found in a vast tome of baking recipes, Short & Sweet by Dan Lepard. I love this book because it's filled with a wide variety of baking tips and recipes, from gooey cakes to wholesome bread to savoury puff pastry pies. Short & Sweet has a clean, traditional design, illustrated with photos (taken by the author) that are beautiful but not overly styled. And, crucially, what I've baked from this book so far has turned out delicious.

Dan also writes a recipe column for The Guardian newspaper, where each week you can read about his latest concoction. You can catch up on his previous columns on the paper's website.

Both of the following recipes call for finely chopped chocolate. My favourite method for achieving this is not faffing around with a knife. I roughly break up high-quality chocolate bars, put the chunks into a freezer bag and seal it shut. Then take a rolling pin and whack the chocolate (get stress reliever!) until it's in little pieces.

Brown Sugar Chocolate Cake

Recipe by Dan Lepard

Dan has tweaked this recipe slightly for the new book: he advises using 2 medium eggs, and add 2 teaspoons of glycerine when you beat those in. Instead of superfine self-raising flour try 200g plain flour, and he now goes with 2 teaspoons of baking powder instead of one. Isn't it interesting how recipes change over time? Obviously this is a much-loved cake that he has worked on for a while.

You can eat this as is, or smear with a thick topping of Treacle Chocolate Fudge Frosting as I did. If you're in the mood, decorate the cake with crystallised flowers (I bought crystallised violet petals from Jane Asher) or any decoration you prefer.
Treacle Chocolate Fudge Frosting
Recipe by Dan Lepard

Do you hate sickly sweet icing as much as I do? You need to try this frosting. The inclusion of black treacle here provides a deep, rich, mellow, burnt-caramelesque style sweetness. The thick black syrup has a bitter smell on its own, but don't be put off, it works wonders in baked goods. If you can't find black treacle near you, try blackstrap molasses or another dark molasses. The consistency of this frosting is marvelously thick and fudgy.

Dan put together a guide for preparing icing and frosting for The Guardian, which features the recipe for this treacle frosting (as well as several others to try). I loved the consistency of this frosting and would recommend you omit the egg yolks and boiling water from the mix, as Dan has done in the updated book version.

Beware the treacle frosting recipe makes enough to frost a loaf cake, a dozen muffins, and you'll still have about a cup left (in my experience!) so you may want to halve the recipe. But if you do have leftovers it's a good excuse to bake something else...

Love your Leftovers: If there's any icing left, put it in an airtight container and refrigerate. It revitalises wonderfully if you'd like to use it to frost something else over the next few days. Simply put the icing in a glass bowl, set the bowl over a pan with a little boiling water in it for a couple of minutes, to loosen it up. Beat it hard and in just a minute or so the original glossy, creamy texture reappears. You may need to add a tiny splash of the boiling water into the frosting while beating.

Thanks to Fourth Estate for the review copy and book cover image.


  1. Looks so yummy!
    The photos are amazing....
    I'd like a small slice, please.

  2. The cake was amazing, honestly devine and left overs even nicer. So chocolatey but not too rich and the petals were such a lovely touch and again tasted gorgeous, I don't normally like perfume flavours but these were subtle and sweet and reminded me of Parma Violet sweets from my school days! A real treat, what great neighbours! must have another baby and call her Banoffee!


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