My Aunt’s Fudgy Chocolate Cake, aka Matilda Cake, Is What Dreams Are Made Of

published Aug 18, 2022
Kitchn Love Letters
Matilda Cake Recipe

Take a page from the beloved children's novel and whip up this uber-fudgy one-bowl chocolate cake that leans on pantry staples.

Serves12 to 16

Prep15 minutes

Cook35 minutes to 42 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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fudgy chocolate cake with powdered sugar
Credit: Marcella DiLonardo

When I was growing up, I was never a chocolate cake person. If it was being served at a friend’s birthday, I would pick off the sprinkles or pass on it altogether. It was vanilla cake or nothing! 

But all of that changed when I was in high school and my Aunt Mira made this cake. She came across the recipe for a “one-bowl chocolate cake” in one of her many old newspaper and magazine clippings. Intrigued by its simplicity, she gave it a shot and made a few small tweaks. It turned out to be the chocolate cake of my dreams. 

This cake is so perfectly moist (yeah, I said moist) and fudgy. It is what I always imagined the cake from the movie Matilda would taste like. We did all want that cake, right? Because it’s so rich, there’s no need for buttercream. Instead, I like to serve it with a dusting of powdered sugar. (But if you want to smother it with frosting and birthday sprinkles, I wouldn’t stop you!)

Taste aside, there’s a lot to love about the cake. With just one mixing bowl and a whisk, it comes together quickly and with little fuss. Plus, it’s practically foolproof. Have a last-minute guest coming by? You can easily whip it up in less than hour.

I always find myself making this cake when I have a tub of yogurt on the verge of going bad. And I almost always have every other pantry ingredient on hand. I sincerely hope you find yourself making it as often as I do — it might just become your new signature recipe. 

Matilda Cake Recipe

Take a page from the beloved children's novel and whip up this uber-fudgy one-bowl chocolate cake that leans on pantry staples.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 35 minutes to 42 minutes

Serves 12 to 16

Nutritional Info


  • 2

    large eggs

  • Cooking spray

  • 2 cups

    turbinado sugar

  • 1 cup

    vegetable or canola oil

  • 1 cup

    full-fat plain yogurt (not Greek)

  • 2 teaspoons

    vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 2 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 cup

    Dutch-process cocoa powder

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon

    baking powder

  • 1 cup

    hot freshly brewed coffee

  • Powdered sugar, for dusting


  1. Place 2 large eggs into a large bowl and let sit until room temperature. Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF. Coat a 9x13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

  2. Add 2 cups turbinado sugar, 1 cup vegetable oil, the room temperature eggs, 1 cup full-fat plain yogurt, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt to the eggs and whisk until well combined.

  3. Place 2 cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda, and 1 teaspoon baking powder in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.

  4. Brew 1 cup hot coffee. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and whisk until combined, the batter will be thick. Add the coffee and whisk until very well combined and glossy. Transfer to the baking dish.

  5. Bake until the center bounces back when pressed with a finger and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 42 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack and let the cake cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. Dust with powdered sugar before cutting and serving straight from the pan.

Recipe Notes

Substitutions: An equal amount of granulated sugar can be substituted for the turbinado. Hot water can be substituted for the coffee.

Make ahead: The cake can be made up to 24 hours in advance and refrigerated until ready to serve.

Cupcakes: This recipe can be baked as cupcakes and makes 24. Bake in a 350ºF oven for 18 to 20 minutes.

Storage: Cover leftovers and refrigerate (preferred) or keep at room temperature for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to 2 weeks.