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This Chocolate Cake Recipe is the most quintessential, classic chocolate cake that you need in your recipe box. Made with simple pantry ingredients and frosted with a delicious chocolate frosting, it is truly the only recipe you will ever need for chocolate cake. Of course you can frost this with any kind of frosting (like Cream Cheese or Vanilla Buttercream) but the original chocolate is a great choice.
If you’re looking for my egg-free, Vegan Chocolate Cake, you can find that recipe here.
Chocolate Cake | A Classic Recipe
If you follow me on instagram, you will know I’ve been making this recipe again and again…doing everything I could to get it *just* right and after seven tries (and ten others, thanks to some devoted readers who agreed to be recipe testers) I’m so excited to share this truly AMAZING Chocolate Cake Recipe that I am going to be shouting about from the rooftops.
My husband is probably the toughest critic because he is the chocoholic in the family but after trying this final version, he shook his head, smiled and said “Yup, this is it. It’s SO good.” While I struggled with getting this cake moist enough and chocolatey enough, I finally got the combination just right and am truly so proud of this recipe. I hope you make this chocolate cake this weekend and love it. Well, I hope you love ALL my recipes you try, but this one (and maybe my cheesecake recipe) are ones that hold special places in my heart. Ha!
Main Ingredients Needed
Ordinary pantry staples come together to create this amazing chocolate cake. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Flour + Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder – flour fills out the cake and the cocoa gives us that clean chocolate flavor.
- Baking Powder + Baking Soda – both are used for the optimal amount of raise.
- Salt – to balance out the sweet and bring out that chocolate flavor.
- Buttermilk – this helps keep the cake moist. If you don’t have buttermilk use milk and white vinegar (1 1/2 cups of milk and 1 1/2 teaspoons of white vinegar).
- Vanilla – for flavor.
- Instant Coffee Granules– this is an optional ingredient, but a little certainly goes a long way! I recommend adding 1 teaspoon to your batter. You can’t taste coffee in the finished cake, but absolutely helps in getting that rich, chocolate flavor. I used Folgers Instant Coffee Crystals and they worked perfectly.
- Vegetable Oil – used for moisture
- Sugar – to sweeten.
- Eggs + Egg Whites – used for structure and texture. The egg white addition helps keep the cake light.
Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder Versus All the Others
After testing and re-testing this chocolate cake recipe, I have found the best cocoa that will give you the best chocolatey flavor is Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder. Regular unsweetened cocoa powder is a little more acidic while Dutch processed is neutral. This just has to do with the way the cocoa beans are processed. While both kinds of cocoa powder will definitely work in this recipe, I liked the Dutch-Processed best. Ghiradelli has a great Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder that I’ve been using and it is fabulous. I would highly recommend it.
How to Make Chocolate Cake
For full details, including increments, see the printable recipe card down below!
Step 1: Preheat Oven and Prepare Pans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line three 8-inch round baking pan with parchment paper and/or spray well with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. (See notes)
Step 2: Prepare the Dry + Wet Ingredients
In a large bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt together to combine. Set aside.
In a liquid measuring cup, stir buttermilk, instant coffee granules (if using) and vanilla together. You want to stir to dissolve the coffee granules. They will slowly dissolve over the course of 5-10 minutes as they sit in the buttermilk and as you add them into the chocolate cake batter. Set aside.
Step 3: Make the Cake Batter
In a large bowl, mix oil and sugar together until combined. Add in the eggs and egg white, one at a time, until mixture becomes lighter in color. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix again briefly.
Alternate adding in flour mixture with milk mixture, being sure to start and end with flour. Scrape the sides and mix again to ensure a smooth batter.
Step 4: Bake and Cool
Using an ice cream scoop, divide chocolate cake batter evenly between baking pans and smooth the tops. Bake 22-30 minutes in the lower 2/3rds of the oven. Cake will be done when a toothpick comes out clean or mostly clean with a few moist crumbs.
Cool 15-20 minutes in cake pans before trying to invert on cooling racks. Once you can handle the warm pans with your bare hands, you can flip them out. Cool completely before frosting and decorating.
Frosting Your Chocolate Cake
If you’re making this recipe as a two or three layered cake, you’re going to want to make sure your cakes are completely cooled before frosting. Since the majority of frostings are butter based, that butter can melt if your cakes are too warm. So the first step in having success is making sure they are at room temperature.
After you know you’re ready to frost your cake, be sure no matter what frosting you’re using, it’s smooth, creamy and easy to spread while still holding its shape. Run a butter knife through the bowl of finished frosting and if it goes through relatively easily, you should be good to go.
If you notice your frosting has a lot of air bubbles (which makes it difficult to frost), beat it by hand with a large wooden spoon to remove as many as you can.
What Frosting Should I Use?
The best and most classic frosting to use with this chocolate cake recipe is my Easy Chocolate Frosting Recipe! I have that added to the recipe card below. However, it depends on what kind of overall product you are looking for too. Consider these other great frosting recipes to try:
Make Chocolate Cake Ahead
The best thing about making this chocolate cake recipe (and really any baked cake) is they store beautifully if you make them ahead! Here are a few storage options:
Storing at Room Temperature
Once your cake has been baked, cooled, wrap them in plastic wrap and store at room temperature overnight. Prepare the frosting then cover and store in the fridge overnight as well. When you are ready to assemble and decorate, set the frosting out at room temperature to soften for about 30-45 minutes. Give it a quick mix to loosen it up in your mixer for about a minute, then frost away! (You may have to add a splash of heavy cream or milk to bring it back to life.)
Storing in the Freezer
If you want to make this cake even farther ahead of time, consider freezing it! Baked chocolate cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. Wrap baked cake layers well in two layers plastic wrap and one layer of heavy duty foil and store flat in the freezer. To thaw, transfer from the freezer to the fridge overnight and then bring to room temperature before decorating.
Same Recipe, Different Cakes!
This Chocolate Cake Recipe will make:
- 1- 9×13 thick cake (bake for 30-40 minutes)
- 2- 8 or 9-inch round cakes (bake for 28-35 minutes)
- 32 cupcakes (bake for 15-22 minutes)
Regardless of how you bake this cake recipe, be sure to use lighter-colored baking pans (or glass). Using a darker Teflon will make the edges cook a lot quicker than the center of the cake, giving you darker, crispier edges which isn’t what we’re going for with this chocolate cake recipe.
More Chocolate Cake Recipes!
Be sure to check out the rest of my cake recipes while you’re at it 🙂
- Black Forest Cake
- Molten Lava Cake
- Dark Chocolate Cake
- Chocolate Candy Cane Cake
- Flourless Chocolate Cake
- Chocolate Birthday Cake
- Chocolate Swiss Roll Cake
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Sheet Cake
Classic Chocolate Cake
For the Chocolate Cake:
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules such as Folgers (optional)
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil or canola oil
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 egg whites
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line three 8-inch round baking pan with parchment paper and/or spray well with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. (See notes)
- In a large bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt together to combine. Set aside. In a liquid measuring cup, stir buttermilk, vanilla and instant coffee granules (if using) together. Set aside.
- In a separate large bowl, mix oil and sugar together until combined. Mix in eggs and egg white, one at a time, until mixture becomes lighter in color, about 90 seconds.
- Alternate adding in flour mixture with milk mixture, being sure to start and end with flour. Scrape the sides and mix again to ensure a smooth batter.
- Divide evenly between baking pans and smooth the top. Bake 22-30 minutes in the lower 2/3rds of the oven. If you're using two cake pans instead of three, you will need to bake this cake 28-35 minutes. Cake will be done when a toothpick comes out clean or mostly clean with a few moist crumbs. Cool 15-20 minutes in cake pans before trying to invert on cooling racks. Once you can handle the warm pans with your bare hands, you can flip them out. Cool completely before frosting and decorating.
For the Chocolate Frosting:
- See recipe notes for how much frosting you will need to make. In a large bowl, measure and add butter, powdered sugar, cocoa, salt and vanilla. Stir with beaters on low (or paddle attachment on stand mixer) to mix and break up the butter. It will still be very powdery and dry. Slowly add in the heavy cream. Once you notice the frosting start to come together stop adding the cream. You may need to add more than the amount listed. This is also normal. Increase mixer speed to medium to get rid of any lumps and create a smooth frosting. Scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl and mix again to ensure a completely smooth frosting. Chocolate frosting will be done when it can hold its shape, but you can easily move a butter knife through it. If its too thick, add more cream and mix. If you've added too much cream and the frosting is too soft, add more powdered sugar. If you notice there are a lot of air bubbles in your frosting, use a large wooden spoon to beat a lot of the air out of the frosting by hand.