Donna Hay, I love you…

After making a few different chocolate cakes and realising that none of them were any good, I thought I would make one last attempt. Enter – Donna Hay Magazine. I bought this magazine the other day after being droolingly drawn to the enormous chocolate cake gracing its front cover. This Chocolate Buttermilk Layer Cake would be the basis for the finally finished birthday cake for the Ginger Ninja.

I decided to do a test run on friday to make sure that it wasn’t another dud recipe. Worry I need not. It. Was. Amazing. So amazing that when my mum came home she said “oh….  wouldnt it be nice if there was one for me…” and, well, how could I resist? So after baking another cake and another batch of cupcakes, I have decided that the richness, glossiness, tastiness and sheer consistency of this recipe may have earned it the crown of Best Chocolate Cake Ever. Really. Donna Hay… amazing.

So without further ado, here are pictures of the completed African Jungle Cake! Hooray! P.S. HAPPY BIRTHDAY NINJA!

I decided to make the cake like a bunch of trees, so the figures on top are sitting in the branches! A bit rough, but you get the idea…

And here are a couple of pics of the cupcakes and their mini animals!

Hooray for mini African animals!

Have you met Lenny the Lion?

So my lovelies,  what is the best birthday cake you have made for someone or someone has made for you? I would love to know!

Chocolate Buttermilk Layer Cake

Recipe – From Donna Hay Magazine


1 cup (250ml) water

125g butter

1/3 cup (35g) cocoa

2 cups (300g) plain flour

1 tsp bi-carb soda

2 cups (440g) caster sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup (125ml) buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla extract


1. Place water, butter and cocoa in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until the butter has completely melted and the mixture is smooth

2. Place flour, bi-carb and sugar in a bowl, and whisk in the cocoa mixture

3. Add the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla and mix until smooth

4. Divide the mixture between two 18cm round cake tins and bake for 40-45 mins at 160 degrees celsius (I took all my cakes out at right on the 40 min mark but it might vary depending on your oven)

NOTE: you can alternatively make these as cupcakes, they will make around 18-20 depending on how big your patty pans are and how full you want them to be. They will still be AMAZING!

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting – from Donna Hay Magazine


100g butter

500g cream cheese

2 cups (320g icing sugar)

1/2 cup (50g) cocoa


1. Beat butter and cream cheese until pale and creamy

2. Add the icing sugar an cocoa and beat for 6-8 minutes until light and fluffy

3. Ice your damn cake!

NOTE: If you want to make your icing different colours, substitute the cocoa for another 1/2 cup of icing sugar then add the colour you require. This is how I did the green icing on top of the cake above

By Katie

What can I say? I love sweets, in all shapes and sizes! You only live once, so why not indulge once in a while? Or, in my case, most of the time...


  1. Holy Snickerdoodle, are you real? You are amazing! I did a google search for Donna Hay’s chocolate layer cake because when I tore out the recipe which was printed in a local magazine I get, I didn’t notice I tore off the measurements on the far left of the page. That google search led me to your edible artwork — wow. What I bake is hideously ugly. Geesh, your cake and cupcakes look a-m-a-z-i-n-g — professional looking! Just bookmarked your site for future eyeballing!! 🙂

  2. thanks hun! P.s. a fair amount of what I bake is super ugly too 😀 im keeping pics of some of my disasters for future posting!

  3. Just curious if your cake tasted a bit sour (from the cream cheese frosting)? I thought my husband would be all over this cake since he loves chocolate but he thinks it’s a little too sour and that the frosting is more suitable for carrot cake. Did your cake taste a little sour?

  4. hmm my boyfriend said the icing was too sour as well, I liked the tang from the cream cheese though! You could easily substitute the cream cheese icing for chocolate buttercream or chocolate ganache if you wanted a sweeter substitute.

  5. hmm my daughter and I cooked this cake and were surprisingly disappointed with the end result. The texture of the cake was rubbery and we felt that there was too much liquid in it. It also didn’t rise very much.

  6. Oh no! Thats no good! This is my standard chocolate cake recipe and the only time I have ever made it without a 100% satisfaction rating was when I accidentally forgot to put the eggs AND the buttermilk in! The texture should definitely be moist and light. I wonder what went wrong?

  7. I have to agree with Ann. I tried it and it was way too liquid and therefore only rose enough for two layers. I re read the recipe in case I missed something but I’m sure I followed it to the letter. My guess is there is not enough flour maybe? did anyone else have this issue?

  8. Im not quite sure how thick you were expecting your layers to be. If you did follow the instructions you would have come out with two cakes that you could halve therefore making four layers in total. The mix is very liquidy but I have never had it not rise enough to get two decent sized layers out of each cake. Unless you expected to get four layers out of each cake which would make an almighty eight layer cake? Maybe check the expiry date of your bi carb?

  9. for each animal I started with a ball of fondant that I either rolled into a sausage (for the snakes) or added more pieces of fondant to. It was a little instinctive so just go with the flow and practise!

  10. Bought the April/May edition with said divine chocolate cake on blue cover of magazine in Bergen airport Norway. Left it at boyfriend’s house whilst I went home to make it for his birthday tomorrow. Thank heavens for Donna Hay, to who I have paid my dues and taxes (AUD25 for the mag) – and thank you to you for re-publishing it and saving my evening!

  11. Afterthought, I substituted half of the Norwegian cream cheese for organic handmade Norwegian sour cream – to avoid the sour taste of cream cheese, and because I ate a tub before cooking it – the sour cream I used is a bit like double cream but more sour and thin but well set. I also used Green & Blacks cocoa powder and real vanilla, and made my own buttermilk from a glass of milk with a tablespoon of lemon. I think this recipe is ace.

  12. Lalapea im glad the recipe worked well for you and good on you for making your own buttermilk! I hope the boy likes it 🙂

  13. HOLY SNIKERDOODLE! so LIZ it was YOU who tore out the recipe.. WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?! The library has made a note of your shinanigans.. we will be watching you!*hawk eyes*

    I would of made this cake if the recipe was still IN the magazine.

  14. Hi there Library User, i’m not quite sure who you’re addressing this comment to as I bought my magazine and i’m not Liz. Although you should definitely try this cake, you can find the recipe above. And I hope the library isn’t really watching me…. *shifty*

  15. Hi Elisabeth, you can definitely make this one the day before. It is quite moist and shouldn’t go dry if you store it in an air tight container. Good luck!

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