Donna Hay’s Four Tier Chocolate Layer Cake- my new ‘go to’ choccie cake!

After a brief period of obsession with the Masterchef series, in particular Junior Masterchef Australia, I was inspired to try some of the dishes that were created on the show.

I trip to the Masterchef Australia website , provided me with a huge pile of new recipes to test out, both challenges set by guest chefs and intriguing creations from contestants.

The first recipe that caught my eye was Donna Hays Four Tier Chocolate layer cake, which featured on Junior Masterchef.  With four layers, it was a very impressive cake, but the recipe seemed simple and not too time consuming, so I decided to give it a whirl. This was my first attempt at anything more than two layers in a cake!

The cake itself was delicious, and has thus become my new go to chocolate cake for any occasion when chocolate cake is required, (it’s amazing how often these occur!).  It’s moist and crumbly, but holds together well when cutting it to make layers.  The stand out in this recipe, however, has to be the cream cheese chocolate icing.  I love cream cheese icing, but the combination of cream cheese and chocolate brings it to a whole new level and is (in my opinion) a vast improvement on a chocolate buttercream.  The cheesy tang really balances the sweetness of the chocolate nicely.

I didn’t quite achieve a 4 layer cake as the recipe suggests, the second cake seemed a little thin to cut in half, but the result was still impressive and very tasty!  I chose to top it with sweetened whipped cream, white chocolate shavings and strawberries, but just about anything would go.

Four Tier Chocolate Cake (from Donna Hay)

  • ½ cup water
  •  60g butter, chopped
  •  2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 cup  plain  flour, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of (baking) soda, sifted
  •  1 cup  caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup  buttermilk (I used milk and a little lemon juice as buttermilk isn’t available in Spain)
  •  ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F).

2. Place the water, butter and cocoa in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the butter has melted.

3. Place the flour, bicarbonate of soda and sugar in a bowl, add the cocoa mixture and whisk to combine.

4. Add the egg, buttermilk and vanilla and whisk to combine.

5. Divide mixture between 2 lightly greased 12cm round cake tins lined with non-stick baking paper.

6. Bake for 40–45 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Allow to cool in the tins for 5 minutes.

7.Turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

While the cake is baking, make the cream cheese frosting.

chocolate cream cheese frosting

  •  50g butter, softened
  •  250g cream cheese
  •  1 cup  icing sugar mixture, sifted

    Slightly lopsided but still standing.

  •  ¼ cup cocoa, sifted

I made double icing quantity as I love a lot of icing!


1. Place the butter and cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 6–8 minutes or until pale and creamy.

2.Add the icing sugar and cocoa and beat for a further 6–8 minutes or until light and fluffy.



To assemble, slice the cakes in half horizontally. Place one cake layer on a plate and spread with one quarter of the frosting. Repeat with remaining layers and frosting. Decorate as desired.


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