Unbelievable Chocolate Cake

Smothered Pork Chops.
Yellow Cake.
Frosting.
Spare Ribs.
Chocolate Cake.
Cream Cheese Coffee Cake.

Any idea what all of the above items have in common?

Well, just between you and me, they are currently on my list (among several others) of recipes I’m searching to find the PERFECT version of. The Best Of, if you will. There are many things (like Indian food and pasta dishes to name a few) that I’ll probably always try different versions of just for the fun of it, but my “search” list includes recipes I want to know are the best so I can turn to them when the time arises and know they will not fail me.

And wouldn’t you know that this week, I’m able to cross off TWO of them! The magical frosting that still visits my dreams was detailed yesterday and now today I’m letting you in on the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made.

I first made this cake nearly eight months ago for my son’s birthday but wanted to make it several more times to ensure it really is the best. And it is! Hands down, it beats any other homemade chocolate cake I have ever made. Moist (unbelievably so!), dense with chocolate flavor but with a perfectly light and tender cake crumb, and with the perfect balance of sweet and rich chocolate, this cake was taken to new heights slathered in my new favorite frosting.

So perfect and so decadent and delicious, this is the only chocolate cake I need to worry about from here on out.

Actually, I probably should be worrying more about the effect of this chocolate cake on my thighs. Ignorance is bliss, I say.

One Year Ago: Oatmeal Pancake Mix
Two Years Ago: Chicken Tikka Masala

*Update (10/6/10): Several of you have mentioned that you had issues with this cake spilling over the edges of the cake pan while baking. Ugh! That’s annoying. While I haven’t had the same issues, enough of you mentioned it that I want to put a note here to watch your cakes closely. You may want to judge the batter in the cake pan by only pouring it 2/3 full and using the rest of the batter for cupcakes, just to make sure you don’t have a mess in your oven.

Unbelievable Chocolate Cake

Yield: Makes two 9-inch cake layers and I’ve had great success making it in a 9X13-inch pan (I suspect cupcakes would work out great, also)

Unbelievable Chocolate Cake

This cake is best made in cake pans that have sides at least 3-inches high so it doesn't overflow while baking.

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 2 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 ¼ cups warm water
  • 1 ¼ cups buttermilk
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, making sure the baking rack is in the middle of the oven. Prepare your cake pans by cutting out a piece of parchment or wax paper to line the bottom of the pan. Grease the pans, place the parchment or wax paper in the bottom of the pan and lightly grease again. Dust the pans with flour (or cocoa powder if you don’t want the white dusting on the finished cakes). Set the pans aside.
  2. Using a fine mesh strainer, sift together the cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add the eggs, yolk, warm water, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Mix on low speed (with a handheld mixer or in the bowl of an electric stand mixer) until smooth, about 3 minutes.
  3. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake the cakes for about 32-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean or with moist crumbs. Do not overbake! Remove the pans from the oven and set the pans on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Gently run a thin knife around the edges of the pans and unmold the cakes, removing the parchment paper liners from the bottom of the cakes. Let them cool completely, top sides ups, on a wire rack.
  4. Trim the tops of the cake layers with a long serrated knife to make them level. Frost as desired (I highly recommend this life-changing frosting).
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/the-best-chocolate-cake/

Recipe Source: adapted slightly from Martha Stewart Living The New Classics

238 Responses to Unbelievable Chocolate Cake

  1. Kim in MD says:

    I couldn’t wait to see what cake you made to go with that frosting! This looks TO DIE FOR! I love that you are on the hunt for “the best” recipes. I always think there is a better recipe , and I spend so much time looking for new ones and testing them. From now on- if you say it is “the best”, that will be the recipe that I turn to! Thanks for doing the research for me, Melanie! :-) Have a great weekend!

  2. Ah! I want a huge slice of this.

  3. Jeanette says:

    that looks delicious! i can’t wait until you find the best cream cheese coffee cake! :) oh, and i agree with “Kim in MD”

  4. Mindy says:

    Looks delicious! I love that you are searching for PERFECT recipes. I’ll be checking back to see if you find them. :)

  5. I thought the common thing between all those dishes was Southern classics! I’m so excited to see all these perfect recipes! Thanks for sharing! :)

  6. Looks like I will be making a chocolate cake with vanilla frosting next week! Luckily, this is my husband’s favorite combination!

  7. there is something to be said about a classic moist chocolate cake made from scratch!

  8. LinC says:

    Looks yummy! Did you use regular cocoa or Dutch processed cocoa (sometimes called extra dark)?

  9. Katy says:

    Of course, now I MUST make this cake and the frosting. I have been craving cake for a while so I think I must no longer fight the temptation and enjoy :)

    I do the same thing, look for the best, and once I find it I stop experimenting. I have a “favorite” chocolate cake, but I could be persuaded there is a “best.” Will certainly try this.

  10. Beth says:

    Mel, you are killing me! I made the buttermilk cinnamon rolls the other day (delicious) because I had some buttermilk left that was about to expire. I still have enough to make this chocolate cake, so I clearly need to make this as well. I need to either stop going to your blog or stop buying buttermilk (I’ll choose the latter).

  11. Diane Riedel says:

    This looks so delicious! I’ve printed out the recipe to team with the frosting recipe you supplied yesterday. I can hardly wait to make this. Thanks so much for sharing. :)

  12. Anything with cream cheese has got to be good and this one looks fantastic!

  13. Suzanne says:

    I am also looking for the best yellow cake, preferably with a spectacular chocolate frosting with the bumps in it…don’t know what the bumps are, but they are always so good. My research thus far has been typical ingredients: butter, eggs, flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, vanilla, and the only varying factor being milk or buttermilk. I’ll be checking in to see what you come up with.

  14. Jeanette says:

    Made this tonight with your magical frosting ( i made cupcakes though) . It was so yummy!

  15. Oh my this looks soooooooooo rich and heavenly!

  16. Veronica says:

    I am sooo happy that you did all the work to find the perfect cake and now all I have to do is use the recipe! I’m so excited to add another “best” to my recipe collection. It certainly looks perfect and I will be trying it out next time I need a chocolate cake!

  17. Mandy says:

    I have that cookbook and don’t believe I have ever made a thing out of it. :/ I have used the MS baking handbook more times than you can imagine. Looks like I need to christen her blue book and give this recipe a go. Will do the icing as well, I am super picky abt icing. I usually scrape it off so I HOPE this one lives up to the rave review yo have given it. I need an amazing recipe. Thanks for the wonderfulness of your blog. :)

  18. Kelly says:

    Ooooo, you’re killing me Mel! As sad is it sounds, I’ve never had a homemade chocolate cake that compares to the specific brand of cake mix that I mentioned in my comment yesterday either. I’ve been cutting back a lot on processed foods, though, so it would be great if this recipe compares! I will definitely be trying this soon. And regarding your disagreement from yesterday, I’m sure I’ve just had a LOT of bad homemade frostings – if I knew you in real life, I bet you could change my mind :)

  19. I’m not a chocolate cake fan, but I just wanted to leave a quick comment and let you know that that is a beautiful picture! Just perfect! :)

  20. Elizabeth says:

    Mmmm, I know this cake is good because I have a version of it on my site too..although mine has coffee instead of water. SO GOOD! So moist, so light and fluffy and rich in flavour. Yep, this one is a keeper! As for that frosting, I have heard of this “cooked” frosting before but never made it…maybe it’s time to switch up my old standby frosting for this one?? Cake seaon is here, so it’s on my list!

  21. Carlee says:

    What are the odds? I came to your website to see if I could find a great cake to make for my daughter’s birthday today. And immediately staring me in the face is this beauty. Thanks! I’ll let you know how it turns out :)

  22. I love baking with buttermilk, makes it so moist. I will put this on my cakes to try list :)

  23. Gina Colby says:

    Making this right now, into cupcakes. I used powdered buttermilk because it stores in the refrigerator so much longer than the regular stuff. I’ll let you know the verdict when it’s done. :)

  24. Ava says:

    Oh my! I just made this cake and it is so good! I didn’t use your icing because I was in the mood for cream cheese, but next time I will!

  25. Carlee says:

    ok! So this IS the best chocolate cake!! It was a huge hit. My mother and mother-in-law both said it is their new favorite cake! Thanks!!

  26. You’ve convinced me that I need to try this next time I’m looking for a chocolate cake recipe! Beautiful pictures!!

  27. Anna says:

    Now you have me doubting my favourite chocolate cake recipe.
    I’ll have to make this and compare, but I’m sure this recipe won’t let me down.

  28. Kristen says:

    Made them into cupcakes. YUMMM!!!! Wish I had had time to make the magic frosting so went to my fall back of homemade cream cheese frosting. DIVINE anyway! I usually doctor up my cake mixes and while I love them, you can tell this is soooo much better! Rich, but not too rich, and super moist. This is definately now in the pile as a staple. Thanks once again for not letting me down! Words can not describe how you have changed my life. I thought I was a good cook, but you have just made my life so easy. I get requests for my recipes all the time and now I just refer them to your blog. I haven’t had a bad thing yet.

    • Mel says:

      Kristen – so glad that you loved this recipe! I can’t wait to try it as cupcakes like so many others have done. Thanks for your kind comment!

  29. Brye says:

    I think I need to buy taller cake pans. I have the ones that i got for my wedding with the normal shorter sides and as this baked i was so nervous it would bake over. It did a little and the middle sank so tonight i am headed out to get taller cake pans and try the cake tomorrow but it’ll be yummy to snack on tonight!! :)

    • Mel says:

      Brye – I actually just updated the recipe after I saw your comment. I didn’t have issues with the cakes baking over but I have heard from several who have so thanks for adding your feedback. I hope the cake ended up turning out ok!

  30. Brye says:

    OH MY GOODNESS MEL!! I will link to my blog when I get the post up but this cake was AMAZING!! and I don’t usually say that. It wasn’t over sweet. It wasn’t too crumbly. It was the perfect birthday cake and the frosting!! Heaven. I had to send some of the cake with the inlaws because I would have eaten all of it! Thank you so much. I love your blog and have tried tons of your recipes and I love them!! I also made the skillet chicken with mexican green rice and it was a huge hit!YOU ROCK!!

    • Mel says:

      Brye – I’m so happy you were ecstatic with the result of this cake. I loved it for all the reasons you did – not overly sweet but so moist and rich. Glad you liked the skillet meal, too. Your in-laws are awfully lucky to get the leftovers!

  31. Naomi says:

    I just made this as cupcakes for my baby’s birthday tomorrow and had to sneak one. Oh wow. I don’t know why I am surprised but these are so good. Beyond anything I have ever eaten! Just wanted to add that I cooked my cupcakes for 16 minutes and the recipe made 36. Thank you for sharing everything you do!

  32. Mel says:

    Naomi – thanks for your notes on adapting these to cupcakes. I’m glad you loved these and hope your baby does too!

  33. Emily says:

    i made this cake WITH the AMAZING {!!} frosting yesterday for a big family bday celebration. oh my, it was divine. thank you for sharing.

  34. grace says:

    wowza. i’m hesitant to admit that chocolate cake is close to the bottom of my list of desserts-i-must-consume, but it’s on there. and with that frosting, well, it automatically moves up. :)

  35. Veronica says:

    I’m doing a happy dance, Mel! Thank you so much for sharing this. I truly did NOT think I could ever replace my cake mix cakes b/c even the best scratch cakes were still not better and they were so much more work! This one is a little more work, but worth it b/c it’s better than the cake mix cakes! I waited to comment until the day after just to make sure it stayed moist after storing 24 hours and it’s still perfect. Score!

    • Mel says:

      Veronica – I’m so happy this cake lived up to your expectations! It’s hard to trump those darn cake mixes but I’m thrilled this stayed moist a day later and that you loved it!

  36. […] by Veronica Miller, with help from this recipe, and The Cake […]

  37. Charlotte says:

    Made this cake and frosting last night for my husband’s birthday and it was divine! I love the texture (and taste!) of the cake. That frosting is so weird to make and I was surprised by the outcome. It looked funky as I was adding in the butter and just like magic it comes out white and delicious! I have tried so many homemade frostings and this is the one, my search is over. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Mel says:

      Charlotte – I agree that the frosting is crazy – you wonder if it will ever come together! I’m so glad the cake and the frosting was a hit!

  38. Nicole C says:

    Thank you for a delicious cake! this is probably the best chocolate cake i have ever had, my husband agreed (and he doesn’t even like cake)!
    mine did fall a little in the middle, but this is probably due to high altitude (live at 7500 ft). i used a similar frosting to the one you recommended and all was delicious!

    • Mel says:

      Nicole – that’s great that this cake was a hit with you and your non-cake-loving husband. I think you may be right about your cake falling due to high altitude…

  39. […] Cake: Adapted from My Kitchen Cafe’s Best Chocolate Cake Recipe ***Makes about 30 large muffin sized cupcakes*** To Prepare: Preheat oven to 350˚F and line or […]

  40. Leticia W. says:

    Made the cake for the new year with ganache as the topping (will try the magic icing later this month) and it came out of the oven in a perfect shape, was moist and rich without being overly sweet. I served a freshly warmed slice from the oven with the melting chocolately ganache on top and 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream to my husband (who is very picky) and he enjoyed the whole ensemble. I now have a recipe that I consider to be my favorite….thank you for sharing this awesome find.

  41. Veronica says:

    I made like my fourth one of these in the last month yesterday for a birthday cake order (I use it as a base for my mocha crunch cake), and it got rave reviews. I like that it makes a little extra batter b/c I always have enough leftover to make a 4″ cake or a few cupcakes for my husband and I to enjoy, even if I’m making the cake for an order. :) This cake is just perfection-thanks again for sharing it.

  42. Christine says:

    Made cupcakes out of this for my daughters birthday last month and they were wonderful! I froze half of them and used them today for my moms birthday and they were just as good!!! Thank you so much for this!

  43. Julianne says:

    BEST chocolate cake ever. Made 1/2 batch two weeks ago and made one 8×8 round pan. Then made 1/2 batch tonight and made about 14 cupcakes. I baked the cupcakes for about 25 minutes (I saw someone baked theirs at 16 minutes…don’t know if my oven is off, but 25 mins was about right for us). FABULOUS. The cake and cupcakes haven’t lasted long enough to make a frosting for them, but this recipe stands on its own. AND, I think it’s a true test of a cake mix if it is even better the next day…and this one is. And so, thank you for now converting me to non-store-bought chocolate cake forever.

  44. Hillary says:

    I am thinking about making this cake for my son’s 2nd birthday this weekend, but I’m making him an airplane shaped cake and it needs to be in a loaf pan. Do you think I can just increase the time and lower the temperature to make it work in a loaf pan, or should I just go with a pound cake?

  45. […] source: cake recipe from My Kitchen Cafe, frosting and glaze by Veronica […]

  46. AnnetteBrunette says:

    Wow Mel, I made this cake with your magic frosting today for some friends we had over for dinner and everyone was really liked it. I normally only make dessert about twice a year because I don’t usually eat it and my desserts never turn out right, but this turned out so well, even I think I know how to bake now! Thanks again!

  47. Lucy says:

    This cake was so delicious. It makes a lot! I made 24 cupcakes and an 8-inch round single layer cake out of this recipe. It was so very delicious and we had a lot to share with friends! The thing that amazed me is that it is not much more work than a mix. It is all made in one bowl with beaters, just like a mix. Thanks a million!

  48. Heather Miller says:

    This is what my husband picked to have for his birthday tonight and it was delicious! I made the magical frosting for it and I couldn’t stop it eating it! So good! Thanks for the recipe! It was my first made from scratch cake:) and I’m so glad it turned out!

  49. Anissa says:

    I made this cake a couple weeks ago. It kicked my butt. I did 2 9″ cake pans and had the overflow problem. Actually, I put only one of the pans in the oven cause it’s was my parents old ghetto oven and it wouldn’t fit two pans. And the oven door has no window. So yeah, I didn’t realize it was completely spilled over until well into the 25th minute of baking. What was even more bizarre, was how the cake was cooking. It was still soupy, except for a little around the edges and right in the center. I should have taken a pic and sent to you, cause it’s kind of unbelievable. The center had a 1/2″ thick cooked layer floating on top of the soupy batter underneath and it looked like a squiggly brain pattern. SO FREAKING WEIRD.
    I’ve baked my fair share lately and have never seen anything like it. So we split the remaining batter that was on the counter into three pans, put it in the oven and tried again. We also increased the temp on the ghetto oven. This seemed to do the trick and those three pans cooked okay.
    BUT, and it’s a big BUT, the taste of the cake that did bake correctly, was AMAZING. Hands down the best I’ve had in a long long time. So anyway, I won’t let this recipe beat me! I don’t like failing! :) I’m going to try again in my more reliable oven at home and watch it like a hawk. Here’s to better luck this next go around.

  50. Shannon says:

    I just made this cake last weekend for my Husband’s Birthday. I also have the Martha Stewart book this recipe is in so I read through it too. The cake turned out to be the best homemade cake I’ve made yet!!! My Husband said this cake is way better than any other Chocolate Cakes I’ve made! We just finished the last of it today(tuesday) and I baked it Saturday and it was still moist and not at all dry!! I also made the Magical Frosting that you recommend with it and it too turned out great!! I did not have any spill over problems, I used two 8″ round cake pans ( mine are Williams Sonoma, the regular ones, not the new non-stick) and I’m pretty sure they’re 2″deep. The pans were full to the top when they baked up, but I kept watching just in case, but they baked up beautiful in those pans, about 40 in my electric convection oven. I kept checking to make sure I wouldn’t over bake them! I also used Valrhona cocoa powder for a real “devils food” chocolate flavor and also greased and dusted the pans w/it to keep the cakes a dark chocolate color. This is a recipe I will make again for sure!!!
    BTW, I’m also the gal who emailed you about the 1st Rhubarb Festival in Osceola, WI coming up the 1st weekend in June! Thanks for such great recipes and your lovely site!

  51. […] Cake Recipe – Mel’s Kitchen Cafe […]

  52. Melody says:

    I used two 9″ round cake pans, so if people are having difficult with their cakes running over, it’s probably because they’re using 8″. This recipe is *perfect* for 9″ pans.

  53. Jnl2211 says:

    My tried and true recipe has been replaced :) it turned out so moist and delicious! I do make it a bad habit to add extra oil although I know I didn’t need it. I made cupcakes and they turned out beautifully! Thanks for sharing such a wonderful recipe.
    p.s I never write reviews/comments. I just had to share my excitement though :)

  54. Jnl2211 says:

    Also, I didn’t have buttermilk so I used 2% milk with 1 1/4 tablespoons of vinegar added…just let it sit for about 5 minutes and viola! A nice buttermilk substitute.

  55. Jaime says:

    I made this into a 3 Layer cake with wonderful, successful results!

  56. Jnl2211 says:

    I made chocolate mousse filled cupcakes with your “magic” frosting out of this recipe….heavenly!

  57. Beth says:

    By far the best chocolate cake ever!!!! Better then any bakery or homemade cake I have even eaten. I am not an experienced baker either and it is so easy to make! I will never make another chocolate cake again! All my friends and family want the recipe!

  58. Beth says:

    Just to add …. I made this into a molded airplane shape cake for my son’s birthday but cutting and carving up (2) 9×13 cakes and it worked great for it! I frosted with my own butter cream recipe. Thanks so much for the recipe!

  59. Kelly says:

    I had the same problem with the cakes spilling over, even though I hadn’t used all the batter (I reserved some to avoid spilling over!) and had to bake the cakes a bit longer. I live at sea level. I wonder if it has something to do with the type of pans I used– foil ones rather than hard sided ones?
    Still yummy, but a big pain.

    • Mel says:

      Kelly – pans can make a huge impact on the outcome of the cake. My cake pans are at least 3 inches deep and I’ve made a note that if your cake pans aren’t that high, you might want to split the cake into 3 pans or use leftover batter to make cupcakes. But I am with Jnl2211 – I haven’t had the spillage problem ever and so it probably is due to the type of cake pans you are using. Foil pans aren’t as insulated and sometimes cause the cake to bake unevenly. Sorry for the mess!

  60. Jnl2211 says:

    That’s so strange, I’ve made this recipe at least 20 times and I’ve never had that problem. Don’t give up! This recipe is so worth figuring out what went wrong!

  61. Deb says:

    Hey Mel – My sister’s birthday is over the weekend and she requested “chocolate cake with vanilla frosting”…no surprise, I find that exact combo here :) I’m salivating at the thought of making these. Quick question – I want to make them ahead if possible…would you recommend I freeze the cake and then make the frosting the day of, or can I make the cake and frost it and then freeze it already decorated? Thanks! Can’t wait to report back on the results!!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Deb – this cake fares great being made ahead and frozen. I wrap each cake round in a double layer of plastic wrap and throw each one in a freezer ziploc bag. I take them out about an hour before I want to frost them so the chill is coming off but they are still firm. I would definitely recommend making the frosting the day of, if you have the time. I’ve never frozen the cake already frosted and I have a feeling the frosting would have a tendency to “weep” – develop bubbles of moisture on the surface – if thawed and the texture might be a little funny. Good luck! This is one of my favorite cake/frosting combinations ever!

  62. Deb says:

    Awesome, thanks for the advice, cake is in the oven now – batter tasted d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s :) Will report back on how it all goes! Thanks so much!!

  63. Anne says:

    Made this cake for dinner guests yesterday. Not only was it SO easy to put together, but it was so fabulous I had dreams about it! I highly recommend Penzey’s natural cocoa powder, which is phenomenal. I used 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar and 2/3 cup Agave nectar since I don’t use white sugar, and used coconut oil rather than vegetable oil (maybe coconut is a vegetable?), but those are the only things I changed, which is saying something for me! I made a chocolate cream cheese frosting from cupcakeproject which I altered by cutting the powdered sugar to 3 cups, increasing the cocoa to 1 cup, and added 1/4 cup plain yogurt. The frosting was very sweet, and the plain yogurt gave it an excellent zing. It did turn out very runny, almost like a ganache, but worked really really well with this cake. You could seriously sell this cake in a bake shop. I used 9″ rounds and the batter amount was perfect. My silicon rounds also didn’t need parchment or flour, just some olive oil spray.

  64. Aimee says:

    Okay. The is my new ALL TIME FAVORITE chocolate cake recipe. Seriously. I have literally thrown out the others. If I’m going to make / have chocolate cake, from now until the end of time I want it to be THIS one.

    I was looking for a new chocolate cake recipe for my husband’s birthday. The epicurious double chocolate layer cake with the coffee, buttermilk, Callebaut, and chocolate-ganache frosting was my old go-to, but honestly it is SO dense and rich and thick and heavy…well, I just wanted a deep, rich chocolate cake that was moist and dark but a bit fluffier and not so dense.

    I followed your recipe exactly – including your recipe for the magical frosting, which was indeed MAGICAL and unlike any frosting I’ve ever made before.

    Let me just say that this cake and frosting knocked off many a sock at my husband’s party this past weekend, and if compliments were dollars, I’d have made a bundle.

    This is it! This is THE ONE. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe and the frosting recipe as well – I am utterly under its spell. I practically had to ask for complete silence just so that I could thoroughly enjoy this properly, without distraction. It’s that good.

  65. Jodi says:

    I finally made this cake after seeing the recipe months ago. I LOVE this cake. In fact, I’ve made it twice in the last five days. It is AMAZING. Thank you for sharing!!

  66. Juli in VA says:

    Truly awesome chocolate cake! So moist…my family are TRUE chocolate cakeaholics & this went over VERY well. Not too dark, not too milk…Perfect chocolate flavor and texture :) Baked this for an impromptu get together to celebrate my son’s birthday with grandparents! Everyone loved it, as did I. Thanks for ANOTHER great recipe Mel…

  67. Margaret says:

    After making this Chocolate Cake for hubby’s birthday, I am a fan of your website and I will use it often. The cake was fantastic!! I used the suggested frosting and it was also a hit. I used cocoa and semi-sweet chocolate chips in the frosting.
    The cake formed a “crust” against the walls of the pan which was also a hit with the fam. I didn’t want to run out for buttermilk, so I used 1 cup of milk with 1 tsp of vinegar and 1/4 cup of yogurt.
    There was too much cake batter for my 9″ round pans, so I made 10 cupcakes which were equally wonderful. ( thanks for the “over-flowing” warning – it saved me over filling the pans)
    There was too much frosting – I will cut it down next time.
    The cake is so good, it doesn’t really need frosting.
    Thanks again.

  68. Tanya says:

    I’ve never cared much for chocolate cake because it’s usually dry and a little bland. I knew when I saw your recipe that I had to try it. I used Hershey’s special dark cocoa and it was amazing!

  69. Jessi says:

    Mel, sorry if this question was already answered; I haven’t read all the posts! Do you think this cake would be okay if the buttermilk was omitted or if something else was substituted? I’m thinking maybe not since it calls for more than a cup. I just have never used buttermilk and do not have it on hand. Thanks :)

  70. Mel says:

    Jessi – I don’t think you should leave out the buttermilk. If you are in a pinch you could try the substitution of 1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar for every cup of buttermilk called for in the recipe (mix the milk and lemon juice together and let it sit for 5-10 minutes). I haven’t tried it so I can’t guarantee the results but I know that is a popular buttermilk substitution.

  71. Jen says:

    mmmmm….mmmm…mmmmm! I made this cake, along with the life changing frosting for my husband’s birthday yesterday and it was THE BEST! I am a terrible cook and baker and since I’ve found your blog I’ve had renewed hope that maybe I can become better at it. In the past I’ve had to beg my husband for a compliment but since I starting making your recipes, he’s been dishing out the compliments left and right! :) I always tell him it’s one of your recipes :)

    Anyway, back to the cake! It was to die for. seriously. Thank you so much. I think I had about 10 people tell me, “oh, that cake is SO good! did you make it??” Thank you, Thank you!!!!

  72. Kelly says:

    This cake looks delicious! But I have one question, how long does the cake stay good for? I need to make and ice the cake a few days ahead of time. Do you think that would be a problem? And would you recommend leaving it in an airtight cake container in the fridge, or leave it in the fridge uncovered? Thanks!

  73. Mel says:

    Kelly – I’ve made this the day before with no problems but that’s the farthest in advance I’ve made it. If it will be completely frosted and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, that will help the freshness but I would try not to make it more than two days in advance.

  74. Strawberry says:

    Ooh-la-la!
    This looks scrumptious!
    I want to make it, with the milk and lemon substitute for buttermilk and with the Magical Frosting recipe!

  75. Jenny says:

    I just made cupcakes with this recipe. They are wonderful! this is my new favorite chocolate cake recipe. Thank you!

  76. Traci says:

    Mel, omg, Thank you for such an amazing Chocolate Cake recipe, I have never been one to bake, my gram was the baker lol but I LOVE to cook but decided to take a stab at baking when I came across your site. I made this cake yesterday and my husband raved over it!! I sent a piece over to my elderly neighbor who makes chocolate cake from scratch and she praised the cake so much, saying what an amazing taste and how unbelieveably mosit it was!!! Thanks!!

  77. Julie says:

    I made this cake today in a Wilton Elmo cake pan. I didnt have to use all of the batter as it would have spilled over I think…although when I took it out the middleis sunk in a bit. Do I put it back in to bake longer? We live in Az and elevation is not high so thats not a factor. Help?

  78. Mel says:

    Julie – how much did the middle sink? Just slightly, like a small indent, or did it sink nearly all the way to the bottom of the pan? It’s probably too late to put it back in the oven if it sank that much but chances are you might have needed to bake it slightly longer. If it is only slightly sunk, it should be fine, especially because with a specialty pan like that, you’ll be turning the cake out to frost and the sunken part will be on the bottom.

  79. Kassie says:

    I use homemade (wrap wet papertowels in aluminum foil and wrap it around the pan) bake rite strips when I bake my cakes so they bake flat. I was a little worried about the amount of batter in the pans, but with these I didn’t have any problem at all.

  80. Amy says:

    I made this for the first time for my Mother In-Law’s birthday with your vanilla buttercream frosting. I have never made a chocolate cake from scratch, and now I don’t think that I will ever make boxed cake again. This is so incredibly moist and delicious. Just amazing. And I made it in a 13×9 pan. I probably had to bake it at least an additional 10 minutes. It really took a while for the middle of it to bake! Worth every minute of waiting though!

  81. bec says:

    Hey mel ,
    I was wondering if you could make cake pops out of this chocolate cake recipe :) thanks

  82. Mel says:

    Hi Bec – I’ve never tried it but I don’t see why not. Good luck if you try it!

  83. sarah says:

    Hi! I just took the pans out of the oven! They smell good! Yum! The only problem I had was that one pan needed to stay longer (the toothpick came out with chocolate goo). It’s weird how the other one cooked perfect but the other one that needed extra time, the middle sank a little bit. Maybe it’s my oven.

  84. Sarah says:

    I just need to comment again. My co-workers couldn’t stop talking about the cake. I frosted it with cappuccino swiss meringue and it turned out fabulous!! Thank you so much! Everyone wanted the recipe so I printed this and shared. I can’t take credit, you know! =)

  85. Samantha says:

    I am wanting to try this recipe or the vanilla cupcake recipe. However, I am wanting a marble sheet cake. Any suggestions? The finished cake is going to be a number one shaped birthday cake.

  86. Mel says:

    Samantha – I haven’t made this into a marble sheet cake mostly because I don’t have a really great go-to white or yellow cake besides the homemade yellow cake mix. If you want a tried and true marble recipe, you might want to google a specific recipe. Good luck!

  87. Brinestone says:

    I made this with great success with buttermilk powder, and it got me to wondering if I could mix the dry ingredients and put them in some sort of pretty container with a ribbon and give as a gift at Christmas. All they would need to add would be water (2 1/2 cups to account for the buttermilk), oil, eggs, and vanilla, which is, except for the vanilla, what you add to a store-bought cake mix, but this tastes so much better.

    I will be making this cake for the second time today to honor my four-year-old boy’s birthday. He wants it frosted to look like a construction zone. :)

  88. KP says:

    I would like to try this chocolate cake as a cupcake. Do you know if it gives a good amount of volume and domes nicely for piping? I’ve made cupcakes in the past that have appeared wimpy in volume as they were almost too dense and moist.

  89. Mel says:

    KP – I’ve never made this recipe into cupcakes (although I believe commenters above you have so you might look at their comments for suggestions). I have another great chocolate cupcake recipe that makes the most beautiful, domed cupcakes:
    http://www.melskitchencafe.com/2012/04/perfect-chocolate-cupcakes.html

  90. Janet says:

    I’ve made this cake several times now and it is amazing! One change I made to it was to scale it down a bit so that the measurements weren’t so odd, and to prevent the spillage issue. These were the new measurements: 1 cup cocoa, 2 cups flour, 2 cups sugar, 2 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 2 large eggs, 1 cup warm water, 1 cup buttermilk, 1/2 cup oil and 1 tsp vanilla. If you use these quantities, you can easily make a half recipe and bake it in a square pan. You can also substitute sour milk for the buttermilk, although it won’t rise quite as high.

  91. Rachel Winkler says:

    I made this tonight for our daughter Vera’s birthday party. It was fantastic! So moist and delicious. I am normally not a cake person, but for this cake, I definitely made an exception!! I got so many compliments on it and will be referring everyone to your website! Thanks for another great recipe Mel!!!

  92. Rachel Winkler says:

    Oh and I didn’t have buttermilk, so I substituted the milk and lemon juice after it sat for ten minutes and it was AMAZING! Best chocolate cake ever! The batter was pretty thin, but I used 9″ pans and it worked perfectly between the two. I used vanilla frosting and it was a great combo!! Thanks again Mel! Your blog is my go to cooking blog :)

  93. Chewy says:

    I’ve made this cake several times and it’s amazing. I’ve also made it a white cake by putting 3 3/4 cups of white flour and it’s just as amazing as the chocolate!! (plus i’ve changed this recipe so to make it even better!!!!)

  94. Ang says:

    Will this work if I don’t have a fine mesh strainer? If so, what do I do? Thanks :)

  95. Mel says:

    Any – try whisking the dry ingredients together very well. The cake might be slightly more dense from not sifting but it will probably still be fine.

  96. monica says:

    questions about this choclate cake recipe: how would substituting cake flour for all purpose affect the outcome of this cake? if i need to bake this cake in a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan would I only fill it 2/3 full as I would for a standard 9 inch round cake pan? also how long would I bake it in a loaf pan does this pan conversion increase or decrease baking time? also how much frosting would I need to frost
    a 9 by 5 loaf cake? If i just make 1/2 recipe of your best cooked frosting would it be sufficient or would I have a lot left?

  97. Mel says:

    Monica – I’ve never made the changes you are asking about so I can’t answer with 100% surety on how any of those things would affect the outcome. It will really come down to just testing it to see. I’ve never transferred this amount of batter to a loaf pan so you’ll have to judge how best to fill it and how long to bake it. I’m guessing 1/2 of the magical frosting recipe would be enough, but again, I’ve never made it that way so I can’t be 1005 sure. Good luck!

  98. Linda says:

    This looks heavenly & I’d like to make it in the 9×13 size for my niece’s birthday. Would you happen to remember how long it bakes in a 9×13 pan? Thanks so much for sharing all your wonderful recipes.

  99. Mel says:

    Linda – hmmm, to be honest, I really don’t know the exact time but I’d be willing to guess it’s somewhere between 28-42 minutes. That’s a wide range but I’d start checking on the earlier end and just keep a close eye on it.

  100. Gianna Robinson says:

    This recipe looks great!
    Two questions: Do you think kefir could be used in place of the buttermilk…and have you ever tried hot, freshly brewed coffee for the water? You can’t taste the coffee, however it lends such depth tot he chocolate. Amazing! I can’t wait to try the Magical Frosting as well! You can’t tell there is flour in it?

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