Queen Elizabeth II’s chocolate birthday cake uses a century-old recipe

Royal Recipes: Chef recreates Queen Mary's chocolate cake

Queen Elizabeth II would celebrate her birthday twice a year – once on the official date of April 21 and later in June when the weather was warmer. And according to former royal chef, Darren McGrady, she would request the same indulgent chocolate cake for both occasions. Here’s how to make it using the original recipe.

In a video shared on his Youtube channel in 2021, the chef revealed exactly what’s in the indulgent bake.

He explained that the cake is made with “a light chocolate genoise sponge, layered with creamy dark chocolate ganache, and then enrobed in even more chocolate”.

As well as boasting three rich layers of cocoa, Darren noted that the birthday cake is made “larger” than average, though the Queen would eat “a little slice” each day.

While the recipe dates back decades, originally coined as a “favourite” of Elizabeth II’s grandmother, Queen Mary, it’s easy to follow even now.


For the sponge:

  • 12 egg yolks
  • Four eggs
  • Eight ounces of sugar
  • Four ounces of flour
  • Two ounces of cocoa powder
  • Four ounces of butter

For the ganache and filling:

  • 32 fluid ounces of heavy cream (16 for the filling, 16 for the coating)
  • 1lbs of 60 percent dark chocolate (1lbs for the filling, 1lbs for the coating)

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Start by whipping the egg yolks, eggs, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Then, place the bowl over hot water and whisk until the mixture is hot.

Remove from the pan of water and whisk until thick enough to form a ribbon on the top of the mixture when the whisk is lifted.

Move onto the sponge mix by melting the butter and sieving the flour and cocoa powder together into a bowl.

Pour the melted butter into the egg mixture and add the dry ingredients.

For the perfect genoise consistency, Darren recommended “cutting and folding” the egg mix until combined, so there are no lumps.

Once smooth, prepare a tall, nine-inch baking tin by greasing the bottom and dusting it with flour.

Then, measure parchment paper to line the sides before pouring the raw mixture into the tin.

Bake at 177C for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when pierced into the sponge.

Once cooked, remove the tin from the oven and carefully transfer it onto a cooling wire. Allow five to 10 minutes for it to cool before inverting the sponge onto another cooling wire out of the tin. Remove the tin and the parchment.

Leave the thick sponge to cool completely before attempting to slice it as this could cause crumbling. During this time, move on to the filling by melting half the chocolate and bringing half of the cream to a boil.

Then, pour the cream onto the melted chocolate and whisk until smooth. Refrigerate until almost set. This can be done six hours prior to baking the cake for the best results.

Once cold, slice the cake into three layers and sandwich it with the chocolate filling. Place the cake onto a cooling wire while making the coating with the rest of the chocolate and cream. Spoon over the top of the cake and down the sides until all is covered before leaving it to set. Any leftover ganache can be stored in the fridge and used to decorate the cake with a piping bag.

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