slice of chocolate cake being removed from the cake on wood background

This homemade chocolate cake has melted chocolate in the batter and makes the best chocolate layer cake. Frost this moist chocolate cake with homemade chocolate frosting that’s creamy and fluffy! 

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe Ever

Every baker needs a 2 layer chocolate cake in their recipe book! 

This chocolate cake is rich with chocolate flavor thanks to the real melted chocolate in the batter, it’s moist, and topped with a creamy chocolate buttercream frosting. 

It’s the kind of cake you’ll want to make for birthdays, holidays and family dinners. 

In the post we will cover:

  • Why use hot water in chocolate cake
  • How to properly measure flour
  • How to prepare a cake pan
  • Recommended cake baking tools
  • How to bake flat even cakes
  • How to make this cake ahead of time
  • Total time required to make this cake
  • How much frosting to put in between cake layers
  • How to make gluten free chocolate cake
slice of chocolate cake on its side on dark blue plate on wood background

Chocolate Cake Ingredients

  • all purpose flour: flour is necessary to build the cake structure 
  • unsweetened natural cocoa powder: adds chocolate flavor and reacts
  • baking soda & baking powder: leavens & lifts the batter
  • salt: just a pinch to balance the sweetness and enhances the other flavors
  • unsalted butter: adds fats
  • granulated sugar: adds sweetness and flavor
  • bittersweet chocolate baking bar: adds REAL chocolate flavor
  • eggs: binds the batter together by providing structure
  • buttermilk: adds moisture and acidity 
  • hot tap water: blooms the cocoa powder

This recipe yields about 5 cups of batter. I used 2 & 1/2 cups of batter in each 8 inch cake pan. 

Why Use Hot Water in Chocolate Cake?

The hot water intensifies the chocolate flavor of the cocoa powder through a process called blooming. This means the chocolate cake will have a more intense chocolate flavor once it’s baked. 

whole chocolate cake with chocolate shavings around the edge on wood background

Chocolate Frosting Ingredients

  • unsalted butter
  • unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • powdered sugar
  • heavy cream
  • salt
  • vanilla extract

Butter, cocoa powder and powdered sugar make up the bulk of the frosting. Heavy cream is used to make the frosting extra smooth and creamy.

How to Properly Measure Flour

  1. Fluff the flour with a fork
  2. Use a spoon to scoop the flour into your measuring cup
  3. Use a butter knife to level off the flour in the measuring cup

Sticking the measuring cup straight into the bag of flour will result in too much flour to be packed into the cup, which can result in dry cake.

how to prepare a cake pan collage

How to Prepare a Cake Pan

I recommend greasing your cake pan with butter or shortening, not non-stick cooking spray. Liberally butter the entire pan. I find that butter works better to grease the pan to ensure the cake doesn’t stick. 

Place your hand inside a ziplock bag or paper towel, use 1/2 tablespoon of butter or shortening and liberally butter the pan. The bag or paper towel will prevent the butter from getting all over your hands. 

For super easy cake removal, cut out a circle of parchment paper that is the same size as your pan and place it in the bottom of the pan after you buttered it. I trace the bottom of my springform pan onto the paper, then cut it out. 

close up of homemade chocolate cake with chocolate shavings sprinkled around the edge of the cake

Recommended Cake Baking Tools

How To Bake Even Flat Cakes

I use bake even cake strips around the outside of my springform pans to ensure that my cakes bake with flat even tops. It works every time and a 2 pack is about $10 on Amazon! 

You can also use a cake leveler or serrated knife to level your cakes before assembling them. 

How To Make Moist Chocolate Cake Ahead of Time

Make the cake layers, allow them to cool completely, then wrap them well in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 days. Alternatively, you can freeze them for up to 3 months. 

Chocolate buttercream can also be made ahead of time. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 days. When ready to use, allow the buttercream to come to room temperature and briefly beat with a mixer. 

slice of chocolate cake being removed from the cake on wood background

How Much Frosting Between Cake Layers

 For an 8 inch 2 layer cake chocolate cake I recommend 3/4 to 1 cup of frosting between the cake layers. The remaining frosting will be used to frost the sides and top of the cake. 

Total Time Required

  • 15 minutes to prep the batter
  • 35-37 minutes to bake
  • 1+ hour to cool the cake completely
  • 5 minutes to make the frosting
  • 10-20 minutes to assemble and frost the cake

How to Make Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

I have made this cake multiple times with King Arthur’s Gluten Free Measure for Measure Flour with great success. You can also try another brand of gluten free all purpose flour. Be sure to measure the flour properly. 

slice of chocolate cake standing up on dark blue plate on wood background

More Chocolate Desserts

Homemade Chocolate Cake

Homemade Chocolate Cake

Yield: 8 inch 2 layer cake
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes

This homemade chocolate cake has melted chocolate in the batter and makes the best chocolate layer cake. Frost this moist chocolate cake with homemade chocolate frosting that’s creamy and fluffy!

Ingredients

CAKE

  • 2 & 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 & 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 oz bittersweet chocolate baking bar, melted & cooled
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 & 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup hot tap water

Chocolate Frosting

  • 4 sticks (2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

Chocolate Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º F. Grease two 8 inch springform pans with butter (butter the sides and bottom) and line each pan with a parchment paper circle for easy cake removal. Set aside. 
  2. Rough chop the bittersweet chocolate baking bar into smaller pieces, place in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 2 minutes on 50% power. Stir and repeat until melted. Set aside to cool. 
  3. In a mixing bowl combine the all purpose flour, unsweetened natural cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside. 
  4. In a separate mixing bowl beat the butter and granulated sugar with an electric mixer for 2 minutes, until pale and fluffy. Add in the eggs and cooled chocolate, beat again, 30 seconds.
  5. Add in half of the buttermilk, beat for about 20 seconds. Add in half of the dry ingredients, beat. Add the remaining buttermilk plus the hot water, beat just until the liquid is mixed in then add the remaining dry ingredients and beat on low speed until combined. 
  6. Evenly divide the batter between the 2 pans, with 2 & 1/2 cups of batter in each pan. If using bake even cake strips, secure them around the outside of the pans. 
  7. Bake both pans on the same rack in the center of the oven for 33-37 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Baking times will vary depending on your oven and size of pan you’re using. 
  8. Allow the cakes to cool for 20-30 minutes in the pans before removing them and allowing them to cool completely on a cooling rack. 

Chocolate Frosting

  1. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter on high for 3 minutes. 
  2. Sift in the cocoa powder and 3 cups of powdered sugar. I like to sift these in because it helps break up clumps, creating a light and fluffy frosting. Beat the frosting on low speed until combined and thick.
  3. Mix in 3 tbsp of heavy cream, vanilla extract and salt. 
  4. Add in the additional powdered sugar (1-2 cups), mix on low. If the frosting is too thick, beat in an additional tablespoon of heavy cream. 

Assemble

  1. If needed, level the cooled cakes using a cake levered or serrated knife. Spread a small amount of chocolate buttercream on the bottom of your cake plate / stand, this acts as “glue” to prevent the cake from moving. Place one cake layer over the frosting. Measure 3/4 to 1 cup of frosting and evenly spread that on top of the first layer. Top with the second cake layer and spread the remaining frosting around the sides and top of the cake. I use about 1 cup of frosting on the top of the cake. Top with chocolate curls if desired. 
  2. Slice and serve. Cover leftover cake tightly with plastic wrap and store on the counter for up to 3 days. 

Notes

For a 3 layer cake, divide the batter between 3 pans, about 1.6 cups per pan.

How To Make Ahead of Time

Make the cake layers, allow them to cool completely, then wrap them well in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 days. Alternatively, you can freeze them for up to 3 months. 

Chocolate buttercream can also be made ahead of time. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 days. When ready to use, allow the buttercream to come to room temperature and briefly beat with a mixer. 


How to Make Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

I have made this cake multiple times with King Arthur’s Gluten Free Measure for Measure Flour with great success. You can also try another brand of gluten free all purpose flour. Be sure to measure the flour properly. 

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