Fairtrade Chocolate Cake

. October, 2015
Photography by Unna Burch.
Fairtrade Chocolate Cake

Unna Burch of the beautiful My Forest Cantina blog has just released her first cookbook, My Garden Kitchen: Easy weekdays and slow food weekends. Unna's also a passionate supporter of Fairtrade products, meaning this chocolate cake is feel-good in more ways than one...

Serves: 12 – 16


1 tablespoon instant FairTrade coffee granules (or fair trade espresso coffee of your choice)
¾ cup water
2 cups FairTrade unrefined sugar
1¾ cups plain flour
¾ cup FairTrade organic cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla paste or extract
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 free range eggs
1¼ cups milk
½ cup melted coconut oil (or canola oil)
Chocolate Buttercream

4 Tablespoons warm milk
4 Tablespoons Fair Trade cocoa
200 grams butter, at room temperature
3 cups icing sugar

1 cup cream
250 grams chocolate (I used Real Trade organic 70%)
30 grams butter 
To Decorate

1 punnet raspberries
Chocolate pearls

Throughout my book I talk about and use Fair Trade products, and this cake is a real celebration of those wonderful consciously sourced products. I am incredibly proud of this delicious cake. It does take a bit of time and work, but it is the perfect cake for a special occasion.


Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line the base of a 23cm cake tin with baking paper. 

Butter and flour the sides and set aside. Dissolve the coffee granules in water, then place all ingredients into a food processor and process until well combined and smooth. Pour the runny mixture into the cake tin. Bake in the preheated oven for 40–45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. If it’s not quite cooked – set a timer and check every 2–3 minutes after that. When completely cool – slice dome off the top of the cake and flip the cake onto a cake plate – cut side down (so the cake is now flipped, the bottom of the cake is now the top). Slice the cake in half with a bread knife. Set aside while you make the buttercream.

For the buttercream: Dissolve the cocoa in the warm milk to make a smooth thick paste, allow to cool so it doesn’t melt the buttercream. Beat the butter and icing sugar together until it is pale and fluffy in texture. Beat in the cooled chocolate mixture. Thin with extra milk if needed. Remove the top part of the cake and fill the centre with buttercream. Smooth out with a palate knife to the edges. Put the other half of the cake on top and press gently. Take a clean knife and run around the edge of the cake to remove excess buttercream from the sides so that it is smooth and flush to the cake. Cover in plastic wrap and chill overnight in the fridge.

For the ganache: Cut chocolate into chunks and set aside. Heat the cream until it almost reaches boiling point then remove from the heat. Put chocolate and butter into the hot cream and leave for 2–3 minutes without stirring, then whisk well. Put the ganache in the fridge until it has firmed up a little, so it’s not runny when you top the cake – I left mine for about 40 minutes – stirring a few times. Don’t let it harden too much, just enough so that it’s like a smooth frosting rather than a liquid.

To assemble: I ganache my cake on a clean dry bench and transfer it back to the cake plate with two fish flips, so the plate doesn’t get too messy. Completely cover the top of the cake with some ganache and bring down and around the sides. Use a clean palatte knife to smooth the ganache. Decorate the cake with raspberries around the edge and a few chocolate pearls inside. I serve slices that are 2 raspberries wide. It is a full-on cake, so a slither is perfect.

Cook's tip: I make and fill the cake the day before and let it sit in the fridge overnight. By chilling the cake the buttercream sets and you get perfect smooth layers when you cut through the cake.