The cake from “Matilda” that we all swooned over! Like The Trunchbull, I’m sure you’ll agree that this is “the most scrumptious cake in the entire world.”
One of my favorite movies of all-time is Matilda. I remember when it was about to come out in theaters, and I could NOT wait to go and see it. Since it was released to theaters almost exactly 20 years ago (O my G, I’M OLD), I’ve probably seen it about 92,000 times. In fact, I even own two copies–the DVD version and good ol’ VHS.
So I’m sure you could imagine just how massively excited I was to meet little miss Amanda Thripp (AKA, the talented Jacqueline Steiger) in a self-management class for actors when I lived in Los Angeles…
And yes, Jacqueline is just as sweet as her character, but she’ll also school you when it comes to Star Wars trivia 😉
Along with the infamous pigtail hammer throw, when it comes to Matilda, I’m sure everyone can agree that one of the most memorable scenes in the movie was Bruce Bogtrotter’s chocolate cake interrogation. ‘Little Brucey is accused of sneaking into the school kitchen and eating Miss Trunchbull’s “most scrumptious cake in the entire world”, and then punished by being forced to eat this behemoth of a cake.
Seriously, that thing looked like it weighed at least 50 pounds! And I cannot tell you how many nights that I’ve dreamt about THAT cake. Those deep, dark chocolatey stacks of densely rich cake, with those contrasting layers of fluffy chocolate frosting, enveloped in that glistening, lusciously silky dark chocolate icing. I mean, just LOOK at it…
YOU GUYS. I NEEDED this cake to be REAL.
And so, to realize one of my lifelong dreams as well as to honor and celebrate the 20th anniversary of Matilda, I decided to make what I believe to be Miss Trunchbull’s favorite chocolate cake.
Now, I’ve read several posts parading around the Internets, claiming to have created THE chocolate cake from Matilda. Not to sound rude, but most of them were not even close. The cake was either too light in color, was made using a boxed cake mix (come on people, this cake DESERVES to be made from scratch), or the frosting was ALL wrong. But this cake is pretty darn tootin’ close.
Aside from the fact that this cake isn’t as ginormous, I think I got everything right.
Just like the original, this cake has three thick layers of ultra moist, fluffy, yet dense cake brimming with lusciously rich, dark cocoa flavor. The cake in the film is so dark, it’s almost black, which is what I was aiming for.
Whenever I make any kind of chocolate cake I like to add some espresso powder (or strongly-brewed coffee). It makes a HUGE difference in amplifying the deep chocolatey flavor in chocolate cakes. Trust me, it will NOT make the cake taste like coffee.
Now, coming from someone who normally prefers frosting over the actual cake (I down frosting shots as morning fuel), I have to say that the cake alone is PERFECT. I could eat it on it’s own, it’s that good! It’s so moist that it almost melts in your mouth, and it has that perfect rich to sweetness ratio. SO heavenly! I can honestly (and humbly) say that I’ve never had a cake as good as this one.
As for the frosting, I used two different kinds. To fill each layer, I made the fluffiest, creamiest milk chocolate buttercream with some butter, powdered sugar, melted milk chocolate, and a little vanilla and salt. So flippin’ good, and a perfect contrast for the rich, dark chocolate cake.
To frost the outside, I went with a silky semi-sweet chocolate ganache. Once prepared, I allowed the ganache to cool and set up for a bit so that I could spread it on the cake like frosting.
Not gonna lie, I may have snuck in a few tastes here and there…
And in true celebratory fashion, a little reenactment was definitely necessary…
So what do you think? Was I close?
*Update: I received a very kind message from a dear reader who made this recipe and thought I’d include his suggestions. Instead of three 8-inch pans, David W. made this cake in two 9-inch pans and says they took about 10 minutes longer to bake. He cut both cakes in half, creating four cake layers (three frosting layers), and also increased the ganache and buttercream quantities by 50%. David also said that this cake is even better served at room temperature. So there ya go! Thank you, David!!
Miss Trunchbull’s Chocolate Cake
Yields: 12 Slices
1 and 1/2 cups boiling water
2 and 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
4 and 1/2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 and 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 and 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
1 and 1/2 cups buttermilk*
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
14 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 and 1/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
4 ounces milk chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line three 8-inch round cake pans** with parchment paper and grease with butter or nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir together the boiling water, espresso powder, and semi-sweet chocolate until chocolate has dissolved and mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until combined.
In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until smooth. Add the cooled espresso-chocolate mixture, stirring until just combined.
Divide batter evenly among the three pans and bake in the oven for 31-33 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with few crumbs attached. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
Place the chocolate in a medium bowl. Pour the heavy cream in a large glass measuring cup and heat in the microwave until it starts to boil. Remove, pour over the chocolate, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir ganache until smooth.
Allow ganache to cool to desired thickness before frosting the cake. You can also refrigerate the ganache, stirring occasionally until it’s thick enough.
Place the milk chocolate in a small microwave-safe bowl and heat in the microwave until smooth and melted, about 1 minute. Stir, and allow to cool to almost room temperature.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy. Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt, and continue beating, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the cooled chocolate and beat on high for about 2 minutes, until the frosting is smooth and fluffy.
Place one cake layer on a cake stand or plate. Pour half of the milk chocolate buttercream on top and spread evenly with a knife or offset spatula. Add the second cake layer, and spread the remaining milk chocolate buttercream evenly over that layer. Top with the third cake layer. Frost the top and sides with the chocolate ganache.
*Buttermilk can be substituted by adding 1 1/2 Tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice to a glass measuring cup, and then pouring in enough milk to the 1 1/2 cup measuring line.
**For tips on making this cake in two 9-inch pans, see update above.