The Forest Cantina's Unna Burch is a self-taught home cook and blogger. Last year, Unna won the inaugural Big Fair Bake competition with her decadent fair trade chocolate cake. Unna says she is passionate about supporting fair trade and believes in paying people in developing countries fairly.

"I think sometimes we can be disconnected about where our food comes from, especially things not grown in our own countries. I think it's important to take responsibility for ensuring people around the world get paid fairly for their produce we buy and treated people with the respect they deserve," she says.

Unna used fair trade sugar, cocoa and chocolate in this cake.


For the cake


• 1 Tbsp instant fair trade coffee granules (or fair trade espresso coffee of your choice)
• 3/4 cup water
• 2 cups Trade Aid fair trade unrefined organic sugar
• 1 & 3/4 cups plain flour
• 3/4 cup fair trade organic cocoa powder
• 2 tsp vanilla paste
• 2 tsp baking soda
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 2 free range eggs
• 1 & 1/4 cups milk
• 1/2 cup butter, melted

For the ganache

• 20g butter
• 200ml cream
• 200g chocolate (I used Wellington Chocolate Company fair trade organic 70%)

For the chocolate buttercream

• 4 Tbsp cocoa
• 4 Tbsp hot milk
• 200g butter, at room temperature
• 3 cups icing sugar

For the whisky/vanilla syrup

• 1/4 cup Trade Aid Fair trade unrefined organic sugar
• 1/4 cup water
• 1/2 cup whisky - I used Bruichladdich organic whisky
• 1 tsp vanilla paste (or a vanilla bean split in half, seeds scraped)

To serve


• Wild blackberries
• Chocolate pearls
• Edible gold leaf



Preheat oven to 180°C.

2. Grease and line the base of a 23-25cm cake tin with baking paper. Butter and flour sides.

3. Dissolve coffee granules in water, then place all ingredients into a food processor and process until well-combined and smooth. Pour mixture into cake tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into centre of cake comes out clean.

4. Every oven is different. I set a timer for 20 minutes, then rotate the cake and reset the timer for the remaining time.

5. When the kitchen smells like cake, that is a good indication it's pretty much done (but do a final test).

6. Once cooked, cool in the tin before turning out on a wire rack.

Method for ganache
1. Break or cut chocolate into chunks. Set aside.

2. Heat cream until almost boiling, then remove from heat.

3. Put chocolate into hot cream and leave for 2-3 minutes without stirring. Whisk well. Put ganache in the fridge until it has firmed up a little, so it's not runny when you top the cake - I left mine for 30 minutes or longer.

Method for buttercream
1. Dissolve cocoa in warm milk to make a smooth thick paste and allow to cool. If it's too warm it will melt the butter in the frosting.

2. Beat butter and icing sugar together until pale and fluffy. Beat in cooled chocolate mixture. Thin with extra milk, if required.

Method for whisky/vanilla syrup
1. The syrup will impart a wonderful flavour and also keep the cake moist, although it does tend to lose its whisky taste after a few days.

2. In a small saucepan, heat sugar and water until dissolved. Add whisky and vanilla and cook on a med/high heat for about 2 minutes or until the strong alcohol smell softens slightly.

3. Do not over-reduce. It should taste very strong, and it will dilute into the cake.

4. Cool sauce and set side.

To assemble


If your cake is really "domed", cut dome off to create an even top.

2. Split cake in half with a serrated knife. I used a flat tray to push the cut top on to so it didn't break. Put bottom half on to a cake stand.

3. Pat half the whisky syrup over the cake with a pastry brush. Top with chocolate buttercream. Place other half of the cake on top (I flip the cake so the flat cut part is on top and the rounded part will be touching the whipped frosting).

4. Brush with remaining syrup. Top with ganache, smoothing with a palate knife, moving it down the sides too.

5. I decorated my cake with chocolate pearls around the edges and wild blackberries that I picked from my backyard. I "kissed" each blackberry with edible gold leaf. It comes on a small sheet and I pressed it from sheet to berry. If you want to get a nice clean cut between the layers of the cake, the cake must be chilled - if you can wait that long.