If you grew up watching the 1996 classic Matilda on repeat, then I’d bet money that the Bruce Bogtrotter chocolate cake scene lives rent-free in your head. That impossibly rich, unmistakably chocolate cake plays a role greater than Bogtrotter himself—sure, eating the whole cake probably led to a stomachache, but it was also an undeniable triumph for every student under Miss Trunchbull’s rule. A symbol of defiance as much as it was one of resilience, this cake became the stuff of dreams for many a ‘90s baby, myself included.
While I’ve yet to find a cake that perfectly replicates what I imagine this fictional sweet would taste like, I’ve sampled some damn fine cakes along the way, including the 10 listed below. Read on if you, too, have been on a lifelong search for a Bruce Bogtrotter cake lookalike (or if you’re just in the mood to bake something fun).
From Our Shop
1. World’s Best Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh, the cake itself comes together in a single bowl, making clean-up a breeze. Of course, there’s also the “optional” chocolate ganache you could spread between layers and the espresso cinnamon mascarpone cream you could smother on top, which would technically up your dirty dish count…but it’s so worth it.
2. Chocolate Dump-It Cake
This easy-peasy confection comes from our very own Amanda Hesser, and with more than 400 glowing reviews, it’s clear y’all like it as much as she does. The secret to the cake’s velvety texture? Sour cream.
3. Chocolate-Carrot Snacking Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting
Carrot cake gets a chocolatey twist in this recipe from Jessie Sheehan. Finely grated carrots make for a super tender crumb, and of course, where there’s carrot cake, there simply must be cream cheese frosting.
4. Crispy Chocolate Cake With Hazelnut & Sour Cream
No-fuss cooking (and baking) queen Alison Roman shares a recipe from her second cookbook, Nothing Fancy, for a cake with a surprisingly crunchy exterior and nutty, dense interior. (Psst: Alison has even more dessert recipes in her newest cookbook, Sweet Enough.)
5. Triple-Chocolate No-Bake Cheesecake
Can’t choose your favorite kind of chocolate? Resident Erin McDowell has the cake you need. This no-bake cheesecake features bittersweet, milk, and white chocolate, all layered to form the perfect make-ahead-friendly dessert.
6. Clementine Chocolate Lava Cakes
Eric Kim combines citrus and chocolate in this recipe for melty, single-serve lava cakes. This super speedy dessert (we’re talkin’ 15 minutes, folks) is both dairy- and gluten-free if you forgo the optional ice cream topper.
7. Dark Chocolate Malt Celebration Cake
Samantha Seneviratne’s celebration cake gets its signature flavor from malted milk powder, which is blended together with cream before it’s added to the ultra-chocolatey batter. For a festive finish, she recommends adding plenty of sprinkles, and even has a pro tip for how to avoid getting them everywhere.
8. Chocolate Cake with Cranberry Buttercream
This clever variation on Amanda’s Dump-It Cake comes from our co-founder Merrill Stubbs. Here, she divides the cake batter between two pans and makes a zippy cranberry buttercream to slather on top.
9. Fudgy, Flourless Instant Pot Chocolate Cake
This recipe from Jessie Sheehan invites us to embrace the Instant Pot for more than just savory cooking—
everyone’s favorite countertop appliance can bake, too! This silky one-bowl wonder gets its extra-velvety texture from the “uniquely steamy environment” created in the Instant Pot.
10. Rick’s Birthday Cake
No cake list would be complete without a sheet-pan option, like this stunner from Rick Martínez. That said, this is no ordinary sheet cake—Rick takes this chocolatey situation to the next level with homemade chocolate buttercream and crushed malted milk balls sprinkled over top.