Cakes/ Chocolate/ Classic Desserts/ Dessert/ easy/ Layer Cakes

Chocolate Layer Cake

November 14, 2014

Layered with a creamy fudge frosting, this easy-to-make cake is moist with a deep chocolate flavor. My favorite choice for a classic celebration cake!

Layered with a creamy fudge frosting, this easy-to-make chocolate layer cake is moist with a deep chocolate flavor. | prettysimplesweet.com

Today is my brother’s birthday. Happy birthday, Dor!
Although he’s already a man, he’ll always be my baby brother.

Dor lives a billion miles away from me, so I haven’t seen him in far too long. One day, he just packed up his stuff and left me to peruse his goals at Yale University. I like to brag about him, because after all, since he’s my brother, him being a genius means something about me, right? Probably not, but I like to think so. Still, there’s much more to him than just his intelligence – he’s humble, caring, and quite cute, too. You would love him.

Dor has a sweet tooth just like I do. We are definitely blood related. We liked spending our time as children watching movies together while nibbling desserts (but not before finishing a full tray of pizza). Babka, cinnamon rolls, and chocolate fondant are a few of our favorites. His sweet tooth, however, seems to become more subdued as he ages. Mine doesn’t.

How to Frost a Cake | prettysimplesweet.com

How to Frost a Cake | prettysimplesweet.com

Since Dor is so far away and there’s not much I could do for him for his birthday except for sending him a gift card (did that one last year) or a bunch of cupcakes from his local bakery (did that one, too), I decided to celebrate by making him a birthday cake. One that he can’t taste because he’s not here. Don’t worry, Dor, I ate a slice for you!

I’ve been using this recipe for ages now, and it’s simply one of the best out there. It’s tender and fudgy and has a deep chocolate flavor, plus it stays moist for days. But the best part? It’s both easy and quick to put together. All it takes is mixing dry ingredients in one bowl, the wet ingredients in another bowl, and then combining them together. No mixer needed! How can you not love a recipe that’s that simple (and that delicious)?

Layered with a creamy fudge frosting, this easy-to-make chocolate layer cake is moist with a deep chocolate flavor. | prettysimplesweet.com

Now, about the frosting. I’ll be honest: I have more than one frosting recipe I love, all of them for different occasions. For example, I would use a rich chocolate ganache if I want a really scrumptious and rich cake. But today, I decided to go with a classic one that reminds me of a nostalgic celebration cake. Read more about the frosting here.

You can use the frosting just between the layers, or over the entire cake, but don’t stress too much about making sure it’s perfect. This cake will be delicious no matter how you choose to frost it.

Layered with a creamy fudge frosting, this easy-to-make chocolate layer cake is moist with a deep chocolate flavor. | prettysimplesweet.comHappy birthday, baby brother! May all your dreams come true, and may these dreams be to always love, nourish, and take care of your older sister. Amen!

4.9 from 7 reviews
Chocolate Layer Cake
Yields: one 2-layer 8-inch cake (or 3-layer 6-inch cake)
 
Layered with a creamy fudge frosting, this easy-to-make cake is moist with a deep chocolate flavor. My favorite choice for a classic celebration cake!
Ingredients
  • 1¾ cups (250 g/8.8 oz) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • ⅔ cup (65 g/2.3 oz) natural unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (400 g/14 oz) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • ½ cup (120ml) neutral oil, such as canola
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk (or whole milk)
  • 1 cup (240 ml) hot water
  • Optional: To enhance the chocolate flavor, dissolve 1-2 teaspoons instant coffee granules or espresso powder, or 2 oz dark chocolate in the hot water.
  • Chocolate frosting recipe
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Generously butter two 8-inch (or three 6-inch cake pans) and dust with cocoa powder, tapping the ramekins slightly to remove any excess.
  2. In a large bowl, place flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Mix until combined. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, oil, vanilla, buttermilk, and water. Whisk until smooth. Add egg mixture into flour mixture and mix until smooth. Don’t overbeat – batter will be lumpy at first, but mix gently and eventually stir with a whisk just until smooth. Batter will be very thin.
  4. Scrape batter into prepared pans. Bake cakes for about 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan before unmolding, then let cake cool completely on a wire rack.
  5. Assembling the cake: Set one layer on a plate with the flat side facing up (or, if your cake rose too much, cut its rounded top with a knife to make it flat – totally optional). Evenly spread about ⅓ of the frosting over the cake to the edge. Top with the second cake layer, rounded side up. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake.
  6. Store cake in the fridge for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

 Yum.

Layered with a creamy fudge frosting, this easy-to-make chocolate layer cake is moist with a deep chocolate flavor. | prettysimplesweet.com


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60 Comments

  • Reply
    Sarah O.
    November 25, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    This is adorable. And that cake looks killer!

    • Reply
      Shiran
      November 26, 2014 at 11:03 am

      Thank you Sarah!

      • Reply
        Ashley
        September 19, 2017 at 11:07 pm

        Soooo true

    • Reply
      Ashley
      September 19, 2017 at 11:14 pm

      I love this recipe it makes me tremble, I bought a cake once that cost 20 dollars and was not even as good and classic, as this one cake here, I’m in love with the simplicity and how it just brings up so many childhood memories! I also love how the ingredients are so affordable, why by some fancy cake that cost like 100 dollars for it to require a some what mature taste, or not even be as good? Thank you so much! I love to make exquisite cakes all the time! But when you are running late this is and amazing recipe to try! Thank you so much for making this recipe! I will certainly be checking out some of your other recipes! Thanks so much!

      • Reply
        Shiran
        September 20, 2017 at 5:43 am

        That’s so great to hear Ashley, thank you so much!

  • Reply
    yushfa
    December 1, 2014 at 6:45 am

    1 2 means 12, right?
    Asking just for not going wrong with the recipe.

    • Reply
      Shiran
      December 1, 2014 at 3:07 pm

      Hi Yushfa, can you please explain me what you mean? The recipe yields 1 cake with 2 layers, if that’s your intention. If not, just let me know!

  • Reply
    anastasia
    December 20, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Congrats!wonderful and tasty recipes,beautiful photography!:-)

    • Reply
      Shiran
      December 20, 2014 at 11:49 am

      Thank you so much Anastasia!

  • Reply
    Irene
    January 10, 2015 at 9:49 am

    I made your cake and used your chocolate frosting that you recommended for my husband’s birthday. I can honestly say this was the best cake I’ve very made him. He picked this out for the cake pictures I showed him so your photography is also wonderful. I had previously asked you about how much corn syrup to use but i competely forgot about it so I used just powered sugar but it was excellent. Thank you for posting this recipe and the one for the frosting.

    • Reply
      Shiran
      January 11, 2015 at 7:30 am

      Thank you for the sweet words Irene! I’m glad you and your husband loves it 🙂 I replied to your comment about the frosting, if you want to try it next time with corn syrup. Happy birthday!

  • Reply
    Gabriela
    January 31, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    My cake sunk! 🙁 Why?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      January 31, 2015 at 5:36 pm

      Hi Gabriela, I’m sorry your cake sank! There are many possible reasons for that, a few of them are: opening the oven door many times which affects the oven temperature, or opening it too early before the cake has set; oven isn’t hot enough; too much air was incorporated into the batter due to over beating; cake didn’t go to the oven soon enough after the batter was ready; raising agent is old or isn’t measured properly. I hope this will help you understand what might have caused it. Let me know if I can help you with anything else!

  • Reply
    Laura
    April 2, 2015 at 10:57 am

    This looks amazing! If i’m doing the two 6″ plans do I have to adjust the cooking time/temperature at all? Also, can I leave it as a two layer cake instead of a four layer cake?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      April 4, 2015 at 9:12 am

      Thank you Laura 🙂 You don’t need to adjust the temperature, just make sure to bake the cake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (it would take a bit longer than baking it in a 9-inch pan). And yes, you can leave it as a 2-layer cake!

  • Reply
    Kristen
    May 18, 2015 at 10:53 am

    I got to this recipe from your cupcake recipe (in the comments) which I really liked. On the comments there, you said if we were using Dutch processed cocoa instead of natural unsweetened, to replace the baking soda with powder. But this calls for both. What would you recommend? Thanks!

    • Reply
      Shiran
      May 19, 2015 at 12:42 pm

      Hi Kristen 🙂 It’s a bit trickier in this recipe since there’s also buttermilk (which is acidic) in there, therefore baking soda is needed. also, the two cocoa powders are not always interchangeable, and I’m not sure what the result would be for this cake. You can try this substitution, with replacing part of the baking soda with a double amount of baking powder, but test it first to see if you like the result.

      • Reply
        Kristen
        May 22, 2015 at 7:37 am

        Thanks so much for your reply. I actually realized after I posted that I did have natural cocoa, and not Dutch processed. I had seen the Dutch in the stores here and thought that’s what I had gotten. I made it as written, and everyone loved it! Thanks also for including the metric measurements on the recipe. I live overseas now, and am learning the conversions, but it helps a lot to have them already on there!
        I used the peanut butter frosting on and it was oh so good – very rich – but very good! 🙂 Thanks for the recipe – this is a keeper for sure!

        • Reply
          Shiran
          May 25, 2015 at 3:37 am

          That’s so sweet of you Kristen, and thank you so much for taking the time to write the comment! I should really have a chocolate and peanut butter cake recipe on the blog! It’s on my list now 🙂 Thanks again!

  • Reply
    Anna
    July 9, 2015 at 6:41 am

    Hi Shiran, Im planning on making this cake for my son’s birthday next week. Question on the cake pan. I have a 9″ pan that is 1.8″ tall/high. Can I get 2 layers with this height? I feel it it will be a very shallow kind of cake. Secondly you’ve said with one pan, to bake for 1 hour-Is’nt that too long? I’ve never baked a cake longer than 45 mins (except for a christmas cake)!

    • Reply
      Shiran
      July 11, 2015 at 6:14 pm

      Yes Anna, you can. My cake pans are 2-inch tall. I know it seems like it’s not tall enough, but it is, trust me! Especially with the frosting – the cake won’t be short at all. You’re right that most cakes would take less than an hour to bake, but this cake takes longer and is very liquid and moist.

      • Reply
        Anna
        July 12, 2015 at 1:25 am

        One last question. What should my oven temperature be for a 1 hour bake worth a 9 inch pan?

        • Reply
          Shiran
          July 13, 2015 at 10:17 am

          Bake it at 350F/180C. To prevent over-browning of the cake while baking, you can cover the pan loosely with aluminum foil for the last 10-20 minutes.

  • Reply
    Nancy?
    September 30, 2015 at 10:43 pm

    Good evening from St Lucia,

    This recipe was perfect. The coffee wow now I know the secret to great chocolate cake. It was my first chocolate cake… And everybody loves it. I did a 2 layer we 2 9″x2″ round cake pans.. I paired it off with another chocolate cake recipe and the 2 made wonderful music together…

    My only issue was my cake sank but no need to fair cuz I was frosting it and i did a patch job that nobody could have noticed…
    Wish I could have up loaded pics…
    Thanks for the great recipe, it’s my go to recipe

  • Reply
    Nancy?
    September 30, 2015 at 10:49 pm

    Oh it sank because used tbsp instead of tsp for the rising agents

    • Reply
      Shiran
      October 2, 2015 at 12:35 pm

      That’s probably why 🙂 I’m glad you like it though and I’m sure that next time it would turn out perfect! This cake has been my favorite for years 🙂

      • Reply
        Nancy?
        October 16, 2015 at 12:34 pm

        Wow… Did it got it right ????? chewy, a lol fudgey melt in your mouth in the words of my best friend food orgasam ???? he is a trouble maker sorry. Made them in cupcakes this time… Thanks

        • Reply
          Nancy?
          October 16, 2015 at 1:02 pm

          Do you have a good red velvet recipe I can try out

          • Shiran
            October 17, 2015 at 9:25 am

            I have a few, yes 🙂 I’ll post my favorite one on the blog for sure.

        • Reply
          Shiran
          October 17, 2015 at 9:06 am

          I’m glad you liked it, Nancy 🙂 Thank you for your comment!

  • Reply
    DARINEE
    October 15, 2015 at 1:35 am

    Dear Shiran, I did everything according to the recipe for a 7″ pan, but I find that the batter is still very runny whilst in the oven. What could be the problem?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      October 15, 2015 at 12:43 pm

      Hi Darinee 🙂 The batter should be very runny – that’s fine. It probably only means that it needs a longer time in the oven until it’s fully baked. How did it turn out eventually?

      • Reply
        DARINEE
        October 16, 2015 at 1:48 am

        Hi Shiran, thank you so much for replying so quickly — very sweet of you. I’m baking these cakes for my daughter’s birthday. When they came out of the 7 inch pan after around 50 mins, they were very moist, with a thick layer of crumbs still stuck to the pan (I hadn’t lined the pan). But the stick inserted in the centre came out clean, so I’m assuming they’ve cooked completely. With the buttercream frosting on top (and fondant on top of that), it looks fine now, but I’ve not tasted it yet, so can’t tell for sure 🙂

        • Reply
          Shiran
          October 17, 2015 at 9:17 am

          How many 7-inch pans did you use? For how many layers? The more batter that would be in the pan, the longer baking time it would need. Also, if you kept checking the cake to see if it’s done and opened the over door too often, it can also affect it, because then the oven temperature can drop quickly. If I bake this cake in a single 9-inch pan for example, it would take quite a long time to bake – about an hour. I hope it would help for next time 🙂 Happy Birthday!

          • DARINEE
            October 18, 2015 at 12:14 am

            Thank you so much Shiran! The cakes were a hit. I made two for two party celebrations and the parties would’t have been the success they were without your recipe. Everyone loved it. The cakes were moist and superbly chocolatey. I’d love to share the pics if there’s any way I can upload them?

          • Shiran
            October 18, 2015 at 4:37 am

            That’s great, Darinee! 🙂 I’m really glad, and I’d love if you share your pics! You can post them on my Facebook page, Instagram, or send them to my email (which appears at the bottom of my about me page). Thank you 🙂

  • Reply
    Kristin
    December 25, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    Can this be used for a cupcake recipe?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      December 25, 2015 at 6:00 pm

      Hi Kristin! I have a recipe for perfect chocolate cupcakes here, so I suggest you make them instead!

  • Reply
    Susana
    March 28, 2016 at 11:07 am

    Absolutely sublime!!! I have never posted a comment but HAD TO for this recipe. I was beside myself with how incredibly moist, chocolatey, and perfect the texture was. I am an avid baker and have tried countless recipes, but this TRULY is the all-time best. My go to recipe for life!! Thank you so much for this recipe Shiran, I am glad I found it, and I will be sure to use your recipes regularly!!

    • Reply
      Shiran
      March 30, 2016 at 5:03 am

      Hi Susana! Thank you so much for your sweet comment! I can’t even tell you how happy it makes me 🙂

  • Reply
    Olivia Qiu
    April 1, 2016 at 10:25 pm

    Hello. I’m currently making your Chocolate layered cake but when i tried to take it out of the oven it started moving like jello what should i do let it cook longer? Try to desperately save it by adding more flour? I really need help because the party is tomorrow and I want it cleaned and done.
    Thank you in advance!

    • Reply
      Shiran
      April 2, 2016 at 3:50 am

      Hi Olivia! If it’s moving then you need to bake it for longer time until it’s completely set. The batter is liquid so it can take quite some time until the cake is fully baked.

  • Reply
    Emma
    June 12, 2016 at 6:15 am

    Hi. Just to check before I bake this cake – you state that it makes 4 layers in a 6 inch pan, yet your photos show a 6 inch cake with 2 layers – did you use the same quantities of ingredients (as stated in the recipe) and just made a 6 inch cake with 2 large layers, instead of 4 smaller ones? Many thanks.

    • Reply
      Shiran
      June 12, 2016 at 9:19 am

      Hi Emma! I usually make 3-4 layers for a 6-inch cake, depending on how tall I want it. When I make a 2-layer 6-inch cake, I reduce the amount of ingredients. If you stick to the recipe, you’ll have enough batter for 4 layers.

  • Reply
    Marta
    June 25, 2016 at 8:11 am

    Hi Shiran
    I made this cake and it was delicious. Thank u for sharing. Do u have a yellow cake receipt?
    Marta

    • Reply
      Shiran
      June 25, 2016 at 8:18 am

      Thank you for your comment Marta! I have a few recipes for vanilla cakes that I love. I will definitely post them one day 🙂

  • Reply
    Prathyusha
    July 29, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    this was so good and so easy to make!! i actually also added half a bar of melted unsweetened chocolate and some butter and it came out a bit fudgy
    this was a huge fan favorite amongst my roommates

  • Reply
    Netia
    September 19, 2016 at 11:43 pm

    Hi Shiran,

    Would it be possible for you to share how to increase the measurements so I can make a 9″ 2-3 layer of this recipe please?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      September 21, 2016 at 10:31 am

      You can multiply the ingredients by 1.5, just make sure to fill the cake pans no more than 2/3-3/4 full with cake batter.

  • Reply
    Steffi Seetric
    October 6, 2016 at 8:35 am

    Hi Shiran,

    I am huge fan of your recipes.I tried this cake today and I ended up having a horrible tasting cake..bad day I hope..Would like to try it again tomorrow..could you pls tell me what’s the purpose of hot water for I have never used it for cakes before and my batter for very very runny ,is that how it should be?

    Thanks

    • Reply
      Shiran
      October 6, 2016 at 9:38 am

      Hi Steffi! The hot water yields a super chocolate-y and moist cake, and helps in mixing the ingredients thoroughly so the batter has no lumps. The batter should be very thin and liquid because of the water, so there’s nothing to worry about. This is one of my favorite cakes, so definitely try it again!

  • Reply
    Amela
    October 6, 2016 at 11:30 am

    Hi Shiran:-)love baking cakes..so I have a question..I only have one 9″ springform pan how many times do I need to increase the amount of ingredients in order to get the cake right? thx best regards

    • Reply
      Shiran
      February 10, 2017 at 7:58 am

      Hi Amela, you can use the same amount of ingredients, or you can multiply them by 1.5 for a tall layer cake, just make sure to fill the cake pans no more than 2/3-3/4 full with cake batter.

  • Reply
    Mara
    January 23, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    I made this cake last Friday (1/20) and it turned out beautifully! I followed the recipe closely with a few modifications – 1 tsp. vanilla, 1/2 tsp. of Espresso powder dissolved into 1 cup of water in addition to ~2 oz. dark chocolate dissolved into milk (what can I say, I’m a lover of chocolate), and it produced the most delicious, soft yet fairly dense, and moist cake! Question though, why add oil instead of butter?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      August 28, 2017 at 5:33 am

      Hi Mara, butter gives good flavor but oil makes this cake extra moist and fluffy.

  • Reply
    Sue
    August 27, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Hi Shiran, I tried to bake this cake for my son’s birthday using 8″ baking pans which overflowed in the oven. I’m now waiting for the oven to cool so I can clean up the goop. Did you use taller than regular pans or springform pans?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      August 28, 2017 at 5:31 am

      Hi Sue, I use standard pans that are 2-inches high, so I’m not sure why it happened. It also works well with two 9-inch pans, if you want to try again. I’m going to make this cake again soon, so I’ll check the exact height and clarify it in the recipe. Happy birthday to your son!

  • Reply
    Sue
    September 1, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    Hi Shiran, after reading the recipe again, checking to see if I made a mistake in measuring, I finally realized that you used 2″ cake pans. The pans I had were only 1.5 inches, no wonder the batter overflowed! I have bought new 2″ pans and will try again. Thanks you so much for replying.

  • Reply
    Chelsea
    September 20, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    I’ve made this cake multiple times now and it has been deemed the “best cake ever” so it is now our standard birthday cake. One question though -This recipe says bake 20-25minutes but with my 8″ cake it is like jello. Do you double the cooking time for 8″ cakes? That’s about what I end up doing.

    • Reply
      Shiran
      September 24, 2017 at 9:06 am

      Thank you Chelsea! Baking time vary according to your oven, mine takes about 30 minutes to bake (if I use more than one pan), but it can take longer than that.

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