Your Classic Chocolate Cake

Classic Chocolate Cake
It’s National Chocolate Day. Time to celebrate with some classic chocolate cake.Now for those of you that don’t know, I am on a lifelong quest to find THE BEST of all of your classic recipes from chocolate chip cookies, to blueberry muffins, to banana bread. There are so many variations of each of these recipes out there, but I know there must be some divine combination of ingredients that culminate in ultimate perfection for each recipe.
At this point in time I think I may have found THE chocolate cake. This recipe was discovered through and chosen as reigning king by my willing band of taste testers several years ago. It is my go-to for birthday parties, anniversaries, and even weddings.

I would describe this classic chocolate cake recipe as a devil’s food cake-style cake. It is moist, deep in chocolatey flavors, yet airy in its texture. However this cake is no lightweight. Despite its airy texture, this cake is solid and can hold up to carving or any other shape you choose to bake it as.

For today though, let’s keep it basic.

This cake uses hot coffee to bring out the deeper flavors of the chocolate. This is a little trick I like to apply to most of my chocolate desserts. It always seems like a waste to add flavorless hot water to a recipe.It is very important to sift your dry ingredients in any recipe requiring cocoa powder. Cocoa powder is extremely fine and has a tendency to clump. When you add clumpy cocoa powder to large amounts of liquid, you end up with, well, clumpy batter.
The surface of this cake manages to remain fairly flat throughout the baking process which is a good and a bad thing. Good because there is less to cut off to even out the cake for stacking. Bad because there is less to snack on while stacking.

Tip: Try using toothpicks to mark your layers when you cut them in half. This way, if you cut the cake unevenly you can easily line up the cake again when you start stacking.

Keep stacking!

Crumb coat your cake by frosting a thin layer around the whole cake. Pop it in the refrigerator until the frosting is set and slap on a final coat of frosting. This will leave your final coat smooth and crumb free!


Your Classic Chocolate Cake

Yield: Makes two 10” rounds OR two 8” rounds and about 24 cupcakes


  • 1/2 cup (85 grams) good quality semisweet chocolate morsels
  • 1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
  • 3 cups (594 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups (312.5 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (123 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, shaken
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • Chocolate swiss-meringue buttercream recipe


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 10” by 2” cake pans. Line bottoms of pans with rounds of parchment paper and grease paper (I used baking spray).In a small bowl, combine hot coffee and chocolate morsels. Give the coffee a minute to melt the chocolate then stir until the mixture is smooth.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer beat room temperature eggs until slightly thickened and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a stand mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held).
  3. Slowly pour in oil, buttermilk, vanilla. Beat until combine. Slowly add melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture to wet ingredients and beat on medium speed until combined (no visible clumps of flour).
  4. Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean or cake bounces back when touched, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes. If making 8” cakes and cupcakes, bake both in the oven at the same time at the same temperature reducing baking time to 45-50 minutes for the cake and 15-18 minutes for the cupcakes (no need to grease cupcake tin if using liners).
  5. Let cakes cool completely in pans on racks. Run a knife around edges of pans and flips layers out onto rack. Pull back parchment and continue to cool. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature or up to a week well wrapped in the freezer.
  6. Frost cake with this chocolate swiss-meringue buttercream. Celebrate milestone.

Tips on assembling: 

Use a cake board. You can buy them from your local craft store or make one by cutting a cardboard circle and covering in foil. This makes your cake easier to move around during the frosting and decorating process. Another plus: no ugly slice marks on that pretty little cake platter of yours.To evenly cut cake layers, first make sure your cake is cool. I even like to place the cake covered in plastic wrap in the freezer for about 10 minutes to give it stability. Place cake on rotating stand and hold serrated knife horizontally. Keeping the knife in the same place and slowly pressing inward, make tiny sawing motions while rotating the cake.Did cut evenly? Don’t worry. I’ve probably cut 6 bajillion cakes and maybe about 10 evenly. Try sticking a toothpick in the side of each layer, one right above the other so you have a marker when you remove the top half to frost. This way it can be placed right back where it came from no matter how many times you spin the cake around.

Crumb coat your cake. Crumb coating is a thin layer of frosting around the cake meant to hold in all of the crumbs. You then refrigerate the cake to harden up the frosting so when you put your final layer of frosting on your cake it will be gorgeous and appear crumb free.

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