Bake a difference with Kate Spicer's Versatile Chocolate Cake recipe | ActionAid UK

Journalist, restaurant critic and Masterchef judge Kate Spicer explains the culinary journey that's led her to donate this unique recipe to encourage you to #BakeADifference this Christmas. Read her guest blog below and try out her festive recipe to fundraise for people living in poverty.

Kate Spicer's Versatile Chocolate Cake recipe, with orange, macadamia and chilli
Kate's Versatile Chocolate Cake recipe

I don’t know about you, but my mode of culinary education is a haphazard kind of suck it and see. I like to learn on the job, starting with the “cooked” breakfasts I’d make on my parents’ (useless, clapped out) Aga when I was five or six. It was easy for me to drag a chair and access its hot plates, where I undercooked everything — toast, bacon, eggs — and served them, with exceptional pride, on a tray to my dad at about six a.m. on a Sunday morning. Being my dad, he’d eat these runny offerings with noisy enthusiasm, which no man will ever do again.

Being versatile

Take the chocolate cake below. I can make it with my eyes closed, it’s idiot-proof and, like the perfect pair of jeans, you can dress it up or dress it down. The one pictured above has the basic ingredients plus the finely sliced peel of half an orange, a splash of its juice, some toasted macadamias and a half-teaspoon of chipotle chilli powder. Why? Who knows? Felt right at the time.

An earlier example, with rum, however, was less successful, plus I overcooked it. “Is it OK?”, I said hopefully to my boyfriend. “Not really,” he said. God knows what he’d say if I offered him a runny boiled egg.

Bake a difference this Christmas

I’m one of those silly wusses who goes totally doollally at this time of year, desperate to squeeze in a visit to every one of my family members. If I could, I’d clone myself so I can be with every family member on 25th December. I swear I'm going to calm down on the treats for my nieces and nephews, but end up spoiling them anyway. Without going all Michael Jackson on you, the children are our future, and children in the UK are incredibly lucky compared to the millions of children living in poverty in the developing countries where ActionAid works.

Most of the ingredients for this cake – cocoa, sugar, nuts, vanilla – come from countries where clean water, healthcare, education, the things we take for granted — are not easily accessible. But for a small cost to us, we can make a big difference to a child’s life. 

So this Christmas, bake some cakes to raise funds for ActionAid and help lift children out of poverty. Come on, #BakeADifference.

Versatile chocolate cake recipe


135g salted butter
60g good cocoa powder, sifted
350g granulated sugar
Contents of a modest sized vanilla pod
115g sifted plain flour
3 eggs


Heat the oven to 180°C. grease and flour a deep cake tin. Melt the butter, take off heat and stir in the rest of the ingredients. Pour in tin and bake for 20 mins or so – should have a crunchy edge and crust and a gooey middle, dust with icing sugar.

I add whatever I like, nuts mostly – walnuts or chopped macadamias, cherries, it doesn't necessarily work brilliantly, but the thing with a gooey chocolate cake is that it's delicious if it's too gooey, and delicious if it's not so gooey. Win, win for a sloppy cook like me. Sometimes I add extra sea salt because I like a salty chocolate cake.

How to donate the funds you raise

Once you've done your #bakeadifference fundraiser, don't forget to send us the funds! Just donate the total online or send a cheque to: Chataway House, Leach Road, Chard, Somerset, TA20 1FR.

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