This homemade chocolate cake is such an easy and delicious recipe. It’s a classic chocolate cake that is decadent, moist and full of rich chocolate flavor.
For any birthday or celebration, I’m always the one tasked with baking a cake. My love of chocolate is no surprise, so I always make a classic homemade chocolate cake. The best chocolate cake is easy to make, has a moist and tender crumb, yet is also light in texture and full of chocolate flavor in every bite. This recipe makes enough cake batter for one 9×13-inch rectangular pan, but you can always alter the recipe to convert cake pan sizes to fit what you have in your own kitchen.
I’ve tried many different recipes over the years, and previously had a favorite in my Chocolate Layer Cake. This moist chocolate cake recipe originates from that, but is updated to reflect several experiments with different ingredient for the best result. We’ve gone through a lot of cake in my family to get to this final recipe and I can’t wait to share it with you.
Chocolate Cake Ingredients
After getting asked several times on substitutions like butter for oil or buttermilk for yogurt, I decided to try all of them out to find the best flavor for a chocolate cake from scratch. The ingredients below are my favorite to use, but it’s also a matter of taste and what’s available in your supermarket. I can guarantee that every option is a good one for this decadent chocolate ganache cake.
- Melted butter: For the best flavor, I found that melted butter gives the chocolate cake a rich and tender crumb with a glossy finish. You can use oil instead, which gives the cake a slightly fluffier texture and keeps it moist for several days.
- Sour cream: The higher fat content in sour cream, versus the other dairy products, gives this easy chocolate cake a super moist texture. My next favorites to use are buttermilk and whole milk (I don’t recommend using a lower fat milk) if you don’t have sour cream available.
- Optional additions: To enhance the chocolate flavor, I like to add either instant coffee, extra dark chocolate, or rum or brandy to this recipe. You can also throw in some chocolate chips if you’d like for a fun twist to this classic chocolate cake.
How to Make Easy Chocolate Cake
This chocolate sheet cake recipe makes one layer. If you’re looking to make a taller cake, I recommend sticking with the original recipe since the texture will hold up better to layering.
For this quick and easy chocolate cake recipe, all you need are a couple bowls to mix the ingredients and a 9×13-inch pan. Make sure to grease the pan well, as you don’t want any cake sticking to the edges.
In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients and then add in the sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, melted butter and sour cream until smooth. Add this to the flour mixture and stir until slightly combined.
The chocolate cake batter will be thick, but that is perfectly fine. Just mix it a little bit, and then add in the hot water and keep mixing until combined. You will likely have lumps in the beginning, but mix gently to incorporate all the ingredients and eventually stir with a whisk just until smooth.
Bake the homemade chocolate cake for 30-40 minutes, until a skewer or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool slightly before you make the chocolate ganache glaze.
My Favorite Chocolate Ganache Glaze
This moist chocolate cake tastes amazing on its own, but I love to pair it with a simple chocolate ganache glaze. The chocolate ganache cake is decadent but keeps things quick and easy for a celebration or anytime chocolate craving.
To make the chocolate ganache simply microwave chocolate and heavy cream in 20-30 second intervals, stirring in between, until melted. You can also do this over a saucepan of simmering water if you don’t have a microwave. Pour the chocolate ganache glaze over the cooled cake. Refrigerate the cake for 1 hour until the ganache is set.
For a classic homemade chocolate cake, this recipe is my new favorite to make. The moist chocolate cake is rich, tender and full of chocolate flavor. The recipe is simple, yet the cake is absolutely stunning. This is the best classic chocolate cake I’ve ever made and I can’t wait for you to join me for a slice!
Other chocolate cake recipes:
- 1 3/4 cups (245g) all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup (67g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, melted (or neutral oil, such as canola)
- 1 cup (240 ml) sour cream or buttermilk
- 1 cup (240 ml) hot water
- Optional: 1 tablespoon rum or brandy
- Optional: To enhance the chocolate flavor, dissolve 1-2 teaspoons instant coffee granules or espresso powder, or 50g dark chocolate in the hot water.
- 7 oz. (200g) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup (180 ml) heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Grease a 9×13-inch pan.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix in granulated sugar. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, melted butter/oil and sour cream/buttermilk (and rum/brandy if using). Whisk until smooth. Add egg mixture into flour mixture and mix just until slightly combined. The mixture will be thick and that’s ok. Add the hot water and keep mixing just until mixture is combined. The batter will be lumpy at first, but mix gently and eventually stir with a whisk just until smooth.
Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake cake for 30-40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
To make the chocolate ganache: place chocolate and heavy cream in a medium heat-proof bowl, and microwave in 20-30 second-intervals, stirring in between each interval, until melted. Alternatively, set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until melted. Pour evenly over the cake. Refrigerate for 1 hour until the ganache is set.
Cake can be kept in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
SanduniApril 30, 2020 at 6:29 am
Hi there! I wanted to ask – how come there’s no baking powder in this recipe? Your other “chocolate layer cake” recipe has both baking powder and soda, but this only has baking soda.
I just wanted to understand if there was a scientific reason for this!
AizhanJuly 12, 2020 at 6:29 am
Baking soda needs acid to cause a reaction and rise, and baking powder has an acid mixed in it already. This cake batter has enough acid in it already (probably from the sour cream) and only needs baking soda to rise. Im not an expert but I think this is why. (Im only 12)
VaishaliMay 4, 2020 at 6:00 am
I don’t have coco powder … but have more dark chocolate… could you please let me know I can use dark chocolate instead of coco powder… if so please let me know it’s ratio
ShiranMay 11, 2020 at 4:44 am
The two are usually not interchangeable in recipes.
epicuriousJune 18, 2020 at 5:07 pm
What temperature should the oven be set to while baking?
ShiranJune 29, 2020 at 2:30 am
Hi! you can always find this info in the instruction section 🙂
Lynn PritchattJuly 9, 2020 at 9:20 am
Can this recipe be made in a round cake tin? If so what size? Thank you.
ShiranJuly 12, 2020 at 5:22 am
Sure, you can use 8 or 9 inch cake. You’ll also need to adjust the baking time.
AvantiAugust 31, 2020 at 10:21 am
How to adjust the baking time and temperature based on the pan?
Can you elaborate on this a little bit?
ShiranSeptember 7, 2020 at 5:29 am
The baking time will remain the same, but the baking time depends on the size of the pan (if the cake is bigger or taller, it would take more time).
ShimaJuly 25, 2020 at 6:24 am
Great recipe. I bake a lot so I am used to adjusting ingredients. I substituted sour milk Oatly (milk substitute) instead of Sour cream to make it non dairy.
zazzieAugust 20, 2020 at 4:19 pm
Ok! This is hands down the best chocolate cake recipe. Easy and very moist. And delicious.
LynnDecember 9, 2020 at 1:14 pm
This is the second time this week I have made this cake. First one delivered to my favourite neighbours and the one in the oven now is for me. The first time I made it it looked so moist and smelled so good that I couldn’t resist making it today. It snowed today in Calgary, Alberta so it’s the perfect day to turn on the oven and smell the cake cooking. Now it’s my turn to enjoy! I love using buttermilk, thanks for providing this recipe.
MrBeastJanuary 12, 2021 at 3:34 pm
Hello. I was wondering why It is so liquidy.
RiriMay 8, 2021 at 2:31 am
Whats the temperature for the cake? And also we put in some chocolate chips and it was delicious like a lava cake.
LiatJune 13, 2021 at 3:26 pm
Earlier comment addressed my question but you didn’t confirm the answer: why is baking powder omitted in this recipe but not the chocolate layer cake recipe? Thank you!
ShiranAugust 12, 2021 at 5:28 am
Hi Liat, I like both recipes, but they will give slightly different results in texture and rising due to addition of baking powder. Both are good, just the result is a bit different 🙂
Evelyn COctober 9, 2021 at 2:21 pm
I make the cake & its very nice and easy. Can i know if i’m doing it in a 28cm round form, how much of the recipe should i use?
Talia @ Pretty. Simple. Sweet.October 11, 2021 at 4:55 am
Hi Evelyn, I always refer to this article when converting pain sizes 🙂