Buttermilk Chocolate Cake with Brown Sugar and Fine Sea Salt

15 Mins Preparation Time
25 Mins Cooking Time

In my first book I gave the recipe for Nathalie’s chocolate cake, a dessert so good and so easy to make it has travelled around the world. This is its successor! It is true that this recipe is a tiny bit more technical, but we’re all accomplished bakers afraid of nothing these days, aren’t we? This cake has a dense and velvety texture without containing too much fat, because it doesn’t have any cocoa butter, just cocoa powder. The buttermilk gives it a wonderful lightness and the combination of brown sugar and fine sea salt makes it simply addictive. To be adopted immediately!


  • 170 g (6 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature (not too hard, not too soft!)
  • 140 g (5 oz/ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 160 g ( oz) light soft brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
  • 210 g ( oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 120 g ( oz) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 170 ml ( fl oz/ cup) buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 level teaspoon fine sea salt


PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 180°C (350°F/GAS 4). Butter a 22–23 cm (8½-9 inch) round cake tin, then line the base with a circle of baking paper.

MIX THE BUTTER AND THE TWO SUGARS IN A MIXING BOWL WITH AN ELECTRIC BEATER FOR ABOUT 2 MINUTES, UNTIL THE MIXTURE BECOMES PALE AND MOUSSE-LIKE. Add the eggs one by one, beating well between each addition and scraping down the side of the bowl. Next, add the vanilla extract.

SIFT HALF THE FLOUR AND COCOA OVER THE BATTER. Mix in with a spatula before adding the buttermilk. Then, add the rest of the flour and cocoa, the baking powder and finally the sea salt. Combine.

POUR THE BATTER INTO THE TIN AND BAKE FOR 20–25 MINUTES. To check whether the cake is done, insert the blade of a knife into the middle; it should come out clean.

WHEN IT COMES OUT OF THE OVEN, LET THE CAKE COOL FOR 5 MINUTES BEFORE TURNING IT OUT ONTO A RACK TO COOL COMPLETELY. The cake will be much better eaten the next day, so try to grin and bear it! If you live, you can cover it with icing before serving.