Simply Perfect Chocolate Cake
This is THE BEST chocolate cake recipe out there! Easy, one-bowl recipe, moist and melt-in-your-mouth, with tons of deep chocolate flavor!
*This post originally published on September 8, 2016. I thought it was due for an update! So, I’ve given some more detailed instructions, answers to FAQ’s, and tips for success. Hopefully you’ll enjoy this chocolate cake as much I do!*
Chocolate cake! It’s everybody’s favorite, am I right?
It is definitely mine. I’ve got a fabulous recipe for vanilla cake, a marble cake recipe that I love, and a red velvet cake that will knock your socks off. But in my book, chocolate cake always wins, hands-down!
This is something I have been meaning to share for a long time. My chocolate cupcake recipe is one of the top posts on this site, and readers are always asking me if it can be done as a cake too. So here it is (finally!): Simply Perfect Chocolate Cake.
I posted the cupcake version of this chocolate cake years ago. I remember it took me like three or four tries (maybe even five!) before those cupcakes tasted the way I wanted. There was a laundry list of “musts” in my mind for that recipe. And I was not going to rest until I could check off each and every one.
Well, my hard work paid off because that is one of the most popular recipes on my site to this day. There are tons of comments on it, from readers who tried and and LOVED it. Many of them say it’s the only chocolate cake they will ever make again! I’m super proud of it, and I’ve used it as a base as a lot of other recipes since. They all get the same kind of overwhelmingly positive response.
But I figured it was time I just gave it the classic chocolate layer cake treatment.
WHAT MAKES THIS THE BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE RECIPE?
I’ve got a laundry list of reasons! Here is why this is the best homemade chocolate cake you’ll ever try:
- The batter is really easy to make and hard to mess up: It uses the reverse-creaming method, which I love because it means you only have to dirty up one bowl!
- The batter is really thick and almost mousse-like: One of my pet peeves is a drippy chocolate cake batter that leaves a big mess all over your counter. This is thick and gorgeous, and you’ll have to stop yourself from eating it straight from the bowl!
- The texture is tender: it’s fluffy but not so soft that it can’t stand up to a generous layer of buttercream.
- It bakes up nice and moist: I’m including an extra step here to make it even more moist! It’s optional, but if you really like an extra-moist cake, you should definitely give it a try.
- The flavor is SUPER chocolate-y: I have another pet peeve and that is chocolate desserts that don’t taste all that chocolate-y. This chocolate cake recipe is made with cocoa, so it has the deepest, richest chocolate taste you can get. Any time you’re baking a dessert that wants to taste extra-chocolate-y, it’s cocoa you want! That’s where all the flavor is at, and you can read more about it on this chocolate cupcakes post and this brownies post.
HOW TO MAKE CHOCOLATE CAKE FROM SCRATCH
You’re going to love how easy it is to make chocolate cake from scratch!
Start by combining your dry ingredients. Sugar, flour, cocoa, leavening and salt can all get whisked together.
I like to use a combination of all-purpose and cake flour. You can learn more about why here: Why Use Cake Flour.
Next, mix in the butter. After about a minute or so on low speed, you’ll see it start to look like damp sand.
This is the time to add your eggs. Mix them in one at a time, stopping to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula after each addition.
Once the eggs are all mixed in, you can add your liquid ingredients. Feel free to use Greek yogurt or sour cream. Both work very well! Mix the dairy in, along with the vanilla, and beat the batter on medium speed for about a minute and a half, to aerate it and build the cake’s structure.
Then just transfer the batter to your prepared cake pans, and bake!
CAN THIS CHOCOLATE CAKE BE BAKED AS CUPCAKES OR IN DIFFERENT SIZED PANS?
It certainly can! You can find the cupcake version here: Chocolate Cupcakes.
As you can see in these pics, I baked my chocolate cake in three 8-inch pans. I just love the look of a tall cake!
But if you’d prefer to bake it as two 8 or 9-inch layers, or even in a 9×13-inch rectangular pan, you can totally do that. Just keep an eye on the bake time because a thicker or bigger cake may need more time to bake than a smaller, thinner cake would.
WHAT FROSTING SHOULD BE USED ON THIS CHOCOLATE CAKE?
This cake is so versatile! It can be filled and topped in all sorts of ways. You can really let your imagination go wild!
Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
- Whipped Cream Frosting
- Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- Easy Chocolate Frosting
- Cream Cheese Frosting
- Seven-Minute Frosting
For the pics you see here, I’ve frosted and filled the cake with chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream. It’s my favorite by far! The texture is so incredibly silky, and the chocolate flavor is really rich and pronounced. I highly recommend it!
CAN THIS CAKE BE MADE AHEAD?
I actually really like the texture of this cake once it’s been wrapped in plastic and refrigerated overnight. Letting it chill like that seems to bring everything together really nicely, and the layers stay super-moist. A lot of times when the cake has been chilled, I don’t even need to bother with a crumb coat. It’s great!
So yes I would recommend making this cake at least a day ahead, if you can!
Once filled and frosted, it can stay out at room temperature for a day or so. After that, it’s a good idea to pop it into the fridge.
The layers can also be tightly wrapped, slipped into a zip-top bag, and frozen. They will last in the freezer for about 6 to 8 weeks. Just thaw in the fridge and frost!
Next time you have a special occasion to celebrate, give this chocolate cake recipe a try! I’m sure you won’t be disappointed, and you’ll get rave reviews from your guests!
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- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder unsweetened
- 1/2 cup water
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
- Generously mist three 8-inch diameter by 2-inch high cake pans with non-stick spray, and line with circles cut from parchment paper.
- Place the sugar, flours, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl, and whisk to combine.
- Cut the butter into smaller pieces and add it to the dry ingredients.
- Mix on low speed until the mixture resembles damp sand (30 seconds to a minute).
- Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula after each addition.
When all of the eggs are fully incorporated, add the Greek yogurt (or sour cream) and vanilla, and beat on medium speed for about 60 to 90 seconds, to aerate the batter and strengthen the cake's structure.
- Divide the batter evenly between the three prepared pans, and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the thickest part of the cake comes out clean or with one or two moist crumbs.
- Cool completely, then soak with cocoa simple syrup (optional), and fill and frost.
- Place the sugar and cocoa powder in a small pot and whisk to combine.
- Stir in the water and place over medium heat.
- Cook, stirring occasionally, until all the sugar has dissolved.
- Place one cake layer on a serving platter. Use a pastry brush to soak the cake with the simple syrup before topping with filling. Repeat as you add each layer.
Click here for the frosting recipe you see in the pics: Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream.
Some fun variations on this same chocolate cake recipe: