Unbelievable Chocolate Cake

Smothered Pork Chops.
Yellow Cake.
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.


  • 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


  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).

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

297 Responses to Unbelievable Chocolate Cake

  1. Mel says:

    Gianna – I’ve never used kefir so I’m not sure how it would work as a substitution. I can’t taste the flour in the magical frosting…it’s delicious. Also, I’ve never used coffee in this recipe but have seen other recipes that do so I’m sure you could try it.

  2. monica says:

    Can this cake be made into a yellow cake by just leaving out the cocoa powder?.
    also would I still use buttermilk or can I use 2% percent milk for a yellow cake version? the formula for this chocolate cake is so wonderful, it never gets dried out, the perfect texture , crumb & moisture stays, no matter how long it stays in refrig.

  3. Mel says:

    Monica – I don’t think that would work, although if you feel daring, go ahead and try. I’ve only ever made this as the chocolate version.

  4. Laurie says:

    This is indeed a delicious cake! I tried it as a 9×13″ today, and it took about 52 minutes. (I lost track of exactly how many times I checked and reset my timer, but it was definitely more than 47 minutes!) :o) I baked it in a glass 9×13″ pan and the finished cake is almost to the brim on the edges and even higher in the middle! Maybe all the baking soda and powder make it a super-riser? OR, just thought of this–I used milk and lemon juice to make the “buttermilk”… I wonder if people who have had trouble with it rising too much and spilling over are all using lemon juice or vinegar to make buttermilk? And it works a little like a child’s baking-soda-and-vinegar-volcano experiment?? A little extra chemical reaction rising? Hmm… now I want to buy real buttermilk and compare the rising action!

  5. Casey says:

    Ooh I have been looking for a perfect homemade chocolate cake recipe!! I have recently started making cakes as a little side business and I’m wondering if this would be dense enough to be stacked and covered with fondant? A lot of recipes I’ve tried are way too soft and sink when I do this. Also I discovered a homemade ‘cake release’- equal parts of flour, shortening, and vegetable oil, brush it in your cake pans and your cake will fall out every time!! And it stores nicely in a Tupperware. 🙂 thank you for all of your fabulous recipes!! We live in a tiny town and a bunch of us young moms get together once a week for lunch and a playgroup and we are always talking about what Mel posted!!! We love you! 🙂

  6. Mel says:

    Casey – I haven’t covered this with fondant but I think it would be plenty sturdy for fondant. That’s a great tip about the cake release! Good luck with your cake business!

  7. Amber Newkirk says:

    I have made this cake and it is so moist and soooooooo good. It tastes better than the box mixes and is just as easy to make. Thanks for the recipe.

  8. Marian says:

    I do not normally leave comments, however I just finished making this recipe into cupcakes with the “magic” frosting and they really are the BEST I have ever had! The frosting is absolutely worth the extra time! Baked them at 350 for 18-20min

  9. Tina Kaur says:

    Hi there ,

    Ive just made this cake, and it does indeed taste amazing, the texture is great, too, however just one little problem, it crumbled and broke as I was trying to take it out of the cake pans, should I have let it cool in the pan for a bit first? : ( Any tips for next time?? The recipe is amazing!

    • Mel says:

      Tina – do you think you could have overbaked it by a bit? I think your idea of cooling in the pan for 5-10 minutes could definitely help, too.

  10. Casey says:

    Have you ever used the dutch cocoa powder for this? I was just curious because that is all I have, and didn’t know if I would be ok to use that or if I would need to go buy the regular. Thank you!!

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

  12. Candace says:

    This cake looks so good! I know you posted this recipe awhile, but hope you can answer a question for me.

    I am planning to make a chocolate cake for my son’s 2nd birthday party which is this weekend. Would this magic frosting work for decorating with Wilton tips? I am not an experienced baker so don’t really have a go to frosting recipe and this one sounds like it might be perfect as it does not sound overly sweet. I imagine if it would not be the greatest for decorating, I could always frost the cake with it and make a buttercream for the rest. Your thoughts are appreciated! So glad I found your blog. I will be checking it out on a regular basis for sure!!

  13. Candace says:

    I just noticed you note on the frosting recipe that if it’s chilled for an hour or so you think it would pipe well. If anyone has tried please let me know! I am doing a train theme and am new to cake baking. I should have done more research and tried some recipes in advance.

  14. Laurie says:

    I am not a cake decorator, but I have tried the icing. It is a totally different kind of icing than I was used to. The batch that I made did not work for piping even after being chilled. It was just too thick. I would not bother trying that icing again.

  15. Gen says:

    Happy Thanksgiving Mel! Hope you had a good one. 🙂 I was looking for a cake recipe to bake for thanksgiving dessert and as always I went
    to your website for recipes that never fail me. I baked this in a 9 x 13 pan. At first it looked like it was going to overflow but it never spilled. It just puffed up but stayed in the pan. I just had to increase the baking time to 50 mins. I am not sure wether the high altitude affected the baking time or maybe because I used a glass bakeware like pyrex. Still it turned out really moist and yummy. I made it with your frosting. My kids said its the best cake ever. My husband even had two big slices! Definitely going to make this over and over again
    . Thanks Mel! 🙂

  16. Gen says:

    I made the chocolate frosting with your ultimate chocolate cake. I sunstituted white vinegar plus milk for the buttermilk and used half a cup of bittersweet chocolate chips and half a cup of semi sweet chocolate chips for the chocolate flavor that was called for at the end of the recipe. It was perfect! My kids were licking the frosting right from the bowl. It turned out like the color of the wendys frosty ice cream and taste almost like it only in frosting form. My daughter even commented that its like a frosty. Thats how fluffy it is. This was so good and its now our family’s favorite cake and frosting. Thank you Mel! 🙂

  17. Alisa says:

    This looks so delicious! Do you know if it’s dense enough to work with fondant?

    • Sarah says:

      The cake is surprisingly dense enough to work with fondant. I love the moist texture of the recipe and I decided to try it in a three layer cake with raspberry filling, buttercream, and homemade fondant. Usually I go with a denser cake, but it always seems too heavy when eating it. This recipe held up well to the buttercream, layers, and fondant with decorating on top of it. I did freeze it after dirty icing it and I put an additional layer of buttercream and then fondant a few days later.

  18. Mel says:

    Alisa – I’ve never used it with fondant (I’m definitely not a fondant expert) so I honestly don’t know. Sorry!

  19. Rachel Russell says:

    Made for daughter’s 9th birthday dinner and this- is-the-best-chocolate-cake-in-the-world. Paired with the mint icing from the your Andes mint cupcakes- and it was FABULOUS. Also made the chocolate mint filling from the Andes cupcakes and chilled a bit and it worked so well as a filling between the layers. Really want to try your magical frosting- but am afraid with the ‘cooking’ part . . but this was so heroic – am going to give it a go in Jan for my son’s birthday. THANK YOU!

  20. Christine says:

    This is the 3rd year I have used this recipe for my daughters birthday and my mom’s birthday! I make the Magical frosting to go with it to, and make the chocolate version of the magical frosting to go with my moms. It is so worth the little extra work!!

  21. Christine says:

    Oh and I also dyed the frosting pink for my daughters cake this year and it looked great!

  22. Mona Flores says:

    This is absolutely the best chocolate cake recipe! Thank you many times over for the chocolatey goodness, the tender crumb, the ease of making it. It’s the best and you did not exaggerate. The frosting is just as wonderful! I, the veteran of many a dense and disappointing scratch cake, salute you with my floury hand and doff my baker’s cap to you!

  23. Megan says:

    Do you think this would work well in a bundt pan since you can’t line it with parchment paper? Do you have any tips of how to adjust recipes for using bundt pans

    • Mel says:

      Megan – I’ve never made it in a bundt pan. Most cakes (besides the few that have unusually been great) tend to dry out in a bundt pan, in my opinion, especially if the recipe wasn’t written to use one. But you could always try it. Good luck!

  24. Gianna says:

    I have made this recipe many times in a Bundt pan.
    I make the whole recipe ( have tried cutting a little bit of the water because it is SO soupy ) and prepare the pan diligently . I spray every nook and cranny with with oil , then flour pan with a mixture of white flour and cocoa powder.

    Baking time needs to be increased, I check every extra 5 minutes. Make sure you leave cake in pan on z cooling rack for 10 minutes before removing to continue cooling!!
    I still have times where some cake will stick.

    Let me tell you, the Bingo fans always look forward to this cake( with white frosting)!!

  25. Haley says:

    Look fabulous, Mel! Do you think I could substitute canola oil for the vegetable oil or no?

  26. Mel says:

    Haley – absolutely! I use canola oil all the time and it works great.

  27. Carol says:

    I made this cake and frosting for my girlfriend’s birthday this week. It was fantastic. thank you, Mel!

  28. Meg says:

    Just made this for my son’s birthday tomorrow- the middle sunk, although it was done in the middle, but it tastes delicious. Hopefully I can mask the dip with lost of frosting:)

  29. catherine says:

    I love this recipe, but I’m having the sinking problem too. The edges are perfect and the center comes out wrinkly and sunken quite a bit (and if I cook it longer, the edges burn). I’m going to keep trying, and maybe leave out some liquid or increase the temperature?

  30. Mel says:

    Catherine – do you live at a high altitude?

  31. catherine says:

    Mel – thank you so much for your response. I live at about 4,500 feet. I found the King Arthur’s Flour high altitude instructions that you linked to somewhere else – would you suggest that I start trying those?

    Also, I saw on your list of favorite things that you use a grain mill. Have you tried substituting any of the flour in this recipe? Or do you think that wouldn’t work?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Catherine – yes, I think the King Arthur tips could help a lot. I have never substituted whole wheat flour in this recipe. If you did want to try it, I’d suggest using whole wheat pastry flour (it has a lower protein content and subs better in cakes and lighter baked goods).

  32. catherine says:

    Thank you again!

  33. Jill says:

    I made this for my son’s birthday and it was so yummy!!! I made it again today in a jelly roll pan (for a science project) and I had about 2 cups of batter left. I’m baking that in the wilton ball shaped pan (also for the science project). Anyways, I just wanted to comment so that people would know how to bake it in a jelly roll pan. Thanks for the fantastic recipe!

  34. Kathy says:

    This is the best cake! And unfortunately I have eaten a lot of chocolate cake to know that! I made this for daughter’s second birthday along with your magical frosting. Everyone loved it! I cannot stop taking little bites of it (which I’m sure adds up to a huge piece). I think I will have to send it to work with my husband just to get it out of the house!

  35. Diane K says:

    I have more dutch cocoa than regular cocoa – do you think that would be an okay substitution? Any suggestions for high-altitude baking (about 4800 ft)? I was thinking of copping out and just using my cake mix but this looks so dang tasty.

  36. Diane K says:

    Oops, I didn’t realized there were two pages of comments (though I should have! if it’s so tasty!), so I found you already answered the dutch cocoa question. I’m excited to try it!

    • Tash says:

      not sure is anyone mentioned this already but if you are going to use dutch processed cocoa, you need to adjust the amount of baking soda you use.

  37. Shannon says:

    I made this tonight. The batter was a little runny, but not really an issue. I decided to bake the cake in a springform pan and it started leaking a bit, so I had to line the pan with foil. I also put some of the batter in a large muffin tin, just to make a mini smash cake. The mini cake came out great. The middle of the other cake sank in the middle, and I baked it much longer than it called for. The flavor is great and the cake is moist, but I think it will fall apart when I try to frost it. I’m not sure if it’s the size cake pan I chose, or what…but I’ve never had this problem before, and I bake a lot! I’m going to give this recipe another go tomorrow and see if I can figure it out.

    • Mel says:

      Shannon – I wouldn’t recommend baking this cake in a springform pan. It really does turn out better if baked in traditional cake pans. Good luck!

  38. Shannon says:

    I made it again this morning and it came out great! I used 9″ pans and had no issues…so it must have been the springform pan.

  39. Jessie says:

    Thank you for this recipe! I’ve never baked a cake from scratch before, but decided to make an attempt. After being informed that they usually turn out really dry, I chose your recipe from a handful I found online that claim to be moist. I had someone with much more experience helping me, and she was really surprised that it expanded so much. In fact, it kind of exploded all over her oven! However, the cake was DELICIOUS! So moist and rich, it was an absolute hit. I didn’t try your frosting, because it was a little above my skill level, but I will have to make it sometime since the cake was so good. I just made an easy chocolate butter cream frosting, which still complemented it well. Honestly, this cake would have still been delicious with no frosting at all. I’ll definitely use larger pans next time I make it though.

  40. Lisa Clark says:

    Best cake I’ve ever had and I’ve worked for two different bakeries!! Amazing!

  41. Sarah says:

    By far the best cake I’ve ever made – and maybe even tasted ever. I love it – and so far I have only sampled the slice I cut off the top for layering! Can’t wait to cut into it and serve it at my daughter’s 1st birthday. She’s never had chocolate…and in my eyes, this cake is a perfect first taste! I was nervous the batter seemed really thin (?) – but regardless if that was normal or not, it turned out perfect! Oh …and I had forgotten to get buttermilk, so used the old milk/vinegar substitute…again, seemed to work just fine with excellent results. Thanks!!!

  42. michelle says:

    I made this for my daughter’s birthday cake and it was delicious; thank you! I love using buttermilk for baked goods, too.

  43. Kim M says:

    Definitely sub the coconut oil for the vegetable oil! DELICIOUS chocolate cake!

  44. Karisa says:

    I made the cake and the frosting, and man, I cannot figure out what everyone sees in this? The chocolate cake was okay, but not worth making again. But the frosting! For all the work, and raving, I expected better. Do you use unsalted butter or something? It’s like eating very light, fluffy butter! If I made it again I would for sure cut out some salt!

  45. Nicole H. says:

    Made this cake for my 4 year old’s birthday party. It was super moist and delicious. I really could have eaten it without frosting at all but thought that would be frowned upon by other party attendees. I didn’t have any issue with it spilling in the oven and I used all the batter. Also I made the magical frosting, and while I do love butter cream frosting, it was nice that this wasn’t as sugary. I also put those butterflies from Hello Cupcake on top, it was super cute. Thanks!!

  46. Army of 7 says:

    This looks like the perfect cake for my son’s birthday this weekend. Reguarding the overflow issue, I have a question, do you use the same measuring cups for the wet & dry ingredients? I assume you use a dry scoop for the flour & a seperate cup measurement for the liquids. Just wanting to be sure before I begin. Thanks 🙂

    • Mel says:

      Army of 7 – no, I definitely use the liquid measuring cups for the wet ingredients and regular ol’ measuring cups for the dry.

  47. Army of 7 says:

    Thanks! The cake turned out perfectly with no overflow issues!

  48. Ray says:

    Mel this is a great recipe. I made this yesterday for my husband on fathers day and we all loved
    it. It was the right amount of sweet and moist. Thank you for sharing!

  49. [email protected] says:

    I made this yesterday for my grandson’s 12th birthday…FABULOUS. I frosted it using the vanilla magical frosting……the perfect combination!

  50. Ashley T. says:

    LOVE this chocolate cake! It’s SO moist, especially if you freeze it before decorating & eating it. I used this for a wedding cake and the guests said it was the moistest, most delicious cake. And, it’s 10 times better than any “dressed-up” box mix. Thanks so much for this chocolate cake recipe! I won’t use anything else again!

  51. Tash says:

    The cake has a nice texture but against my better judgement i added the amount of baking soda and salt as it was written in the recipe and it was too much. Based on the acidic ingredients (buttermilk) and the amount of flour used, the cake is left with about 1 1/4 tsp of un-neutralized baking soda. I will give it a try again making my own adjustments.

  52. Aubri says:

    Mel – I have made this cake several times, but it never fails to fall in the middle. It doesn’t go all the way down to the bottom, but probably falls half way down in the middle. I use 9 inch pans (Fat Daddio Brand), and have never had a problem with a cake sinking in them before. I have used different types of cocoa and brand spankin’ new baking powder. I’ve tried baking it a bit longer…and also at a little lower temp for longer. Ug. I love it so much. It has such great flavor and texture, but I don’t feel like I can ever make it for a special event, or make it if I really need it to look pretty. Any ideas what I’m doing wrong?

    • Mel says:

      Aubri – that’s frustrating! I’ve never had this cake fall so I’m not sure what would be causing it to happen. Usually when cakes fall, I recommend baking for longer which it sounds like you’ve tried. It really shouldn’t fall if the batter has baked all the way in the middle – is there any way to add a few more minutes to the baking time to see if it helps? Also, while it’s baking, check (without opening the oven door – look through the window) to see when the cake has fallen – during the middle of baking or is it at the end? Or is it after you remove it from the oven? If it is falling during the end of baking or when you remove it from the oven, that’s almost a sure sign it needs to be baked longer.

  53. Laurie says:

    Mine always falls in the middle, too, but I just even it out with extra icing. 😉

  54. Ashley T. says:

    Aubri & Laurie —

    The first time I made this, mine fell in the middle too! So I asked a friend who’s a pastry chef, and she said cakes can fall if you’re overmixing them. Which I sometimes tend to do. Since then, I haven’t mixed them as long as I used to and they haven’t fallen since. Hope this helps!

  55. catherine says:

    Hello Mel!
    Can’t wait to try this cake combo. Do you know if this cake is sturdy enough to cover in fondant? I’ve ready that some people have had success with carving it, so I assume covering in fondant should be ok. Thank you!!

    • Mel says:

      Catherine – I’ve only ever used fondant once or twice so I can’t be 100% sure but I use this cake for all my other decorating and it holds up just fine.

  56. Sandra says:

    Hi mel this cake sounds very nice but I was wondering if this cake could be covered in fondant to use for a christning cake

  57. Ashley T. says:

    Catherine & Sandra:

    I’ve covered this cake in fondant a few times and it works very well. I usually cover it when the cakes are frozen which makes it easier. Sometimes, instead of using buttercream as my crumb coat under the fondant, I use chocolate ganache. Once you get the ganache smooth (which is very easy to do), it will harden. This gives you a perfectly shaped cake to cover the fondant with. Hope this helps! Happy baking 🙂

  58. Laura says:

    Do you have any recommendations on cooking at high elevations? I generally don’t eat/bake cake but I’m living in Colorado now and I wanted to be a good mom and make this for my daughters birthday. Just don’t want it to be flat. Thanks in advance. Looks great.

    • Mel says:

      Hi Laura – I’ve googled baking at high altitudes before and there are a lot of websites dedicated to it. Usually the rule of thumb is to add a few more tablespoons flour and adjust baking temperature (sometimes decreasing by 25 degrees). You might try looking online for other tips (I live at low elevation right now so I’m not an expert on it).

  59. amy jelenko says:

    This cake is truly the best chocolate cake. Light, but moist. My only recco – substitute coffee for the water. brings out the chocolate flavor! Also – the magical frosting is amazing, and the lemon bars truly are perfect. thanks for these great recipes!

  60. Vanessa Cragun says:

    I seem to be the only one that doesn’t know why the oil is separated. Is the half a cup for greasing and the 2 tablespoons for the cake?

  61. connie g says:

    OK, my daughter & I made both the cake and frosting today. O.M.G.!! My arteries clogged a little more, but this is truly a delicious combo. The cake is perfectly moist & the frosting is not too sweet. I followed directions exactly, except for adding 2 tablespoons of confectioners’ sugar, and it was wonderful.

    Thanks so much.

  62. Sarah says:

    The cake is good and very moist. Not in love with the frosting. The chocolate cake made with quinoa, and the whipped cream frosting, is the best chocolate cake on this site!

  63. Justin says:

    Hi Mel, One of my combine crew turned 19 today, he had to work all day harvesting we got in at midnight and I thought lets make a cake so after discovering their were not box cake mixes to Mels kitchen we went naturally. He was very happy as were the rest of the crew. You should gain a few more followers in new market, custom combiners and farm crews. We were out of eggs had to use yogurt??? I think Melissa taught me that, it worked so if I just made that up well that’s my contribution to baking… thanks

  64. Katrina says:

    This looks amazing! I can’t wait to frost this with your whipped chocolate frosting!

    Two Questions: (Sorry, I’m a beginner baker)

    1. Do you think it’ll still taste good even after refrigeration; straight from the fridge? I know cold cake is usually dry and loses its moisture and fluffiness but I have to refrigerate it if I will be frosting it with whipped cream.

    2. Can I cut the sugar by 25% or will it lose its texture/moisture/etc.?

    Thank you so much, Mel! Your blog is so inspiring and mouth-watering haha 😀

    • Mel says:

      Hi Katrina – I have refrigerated this cake a lot and it seems to do quite well as long as the frosting completely covers the cake and kind of seals it in. If you can, I’d try to take it out about an hour before serving. I’ve never tried decreasing the sugar so you’d have to experiment with that. Good luck!

  65. angie says:

    YUM, YUM, YUM, YUM!!!! this was my first chocolate cake from scratch, so easy, so simple, so utterly unbelievable:)
    I made on small subsitution coconut oil or vegetable oil, cause it was all I had.

  66. Mercedes says:

    This is the most awesome chocolate cake recipe I have ever used….certainly lived up to the best of category. I made this for my son’s third birthday and it was wonderful. I just made a half batch for cupcakes today, and just wanted to say it came out great, and I got about 16 cupcakes out of that. Just be careful and not overfill, I went about three quarters full and they came out perfect!

  67. Ainsley says:

    I’ve made this quite a few times. Each time it was in two round pans every time except for the last. I made it as a sheet cake so each slice gets more icing. Cooked for 32 minutes in a half sheet pan. Came out great!

    This is now my go-to chocolate cake recipe. Thanks so much for sharing this and the frosting that goes with it! I think it tastes a lot like an Oreo together, and Oreos are one of my favorite things ever. Again THANK YOU.

  68. Old Man Dave says:

    I’ve made this cake several dozen times using a glass 13×9 pan. I set the oven tempurature to 340* and bake for about 57 minutes. As soon as the toothpick comes out clean, its out of the oven. I let it sit in the pan for about 20 minutes and it pops right out of the pan when inverted without crumbling.

  69. Hilary says:

    Hi Mel, I was wondering how you think this would fare in a ten inch round pan… time?? Thanks so much!! I am not kidding you when I say literally every meal we eat comes from you. You are such a blessing.

    • Mel says:

      Hilary – I would start checking the cake 10 minutes before the stated time in the recipe just to be sure it doesn’t overbake. Good luck!

  70. Brinestone says:

    This has become THE cake recipe for our family. My BIL came for dinner on his birthday on Sunday, and because of the season, I tried it with peppermint buttercream frosting, which was delightful. The dark, rich flavor of the cake held up well to the minty frosting. I really can’t ruin this!

  71. Chad says:

    My wife discovered your website and decided to compare your cake to my grandmother’s recipe. Yours is very good but not sure I’m ready to convert. I’m perhaps a bit biased. That being said, she showed me your website (she has tried a few cookie recipes) and was surprised to find out I knew you back in the days before your Internet fame. Anyway, it was fun to see pictures of you and your family after all these years. Been a few years since BYU and those crazy college years. Glad you guys are doing so well.

  72. Anonymous says:

    Hi! How many cups of batter does this recipe yield?

  73. […] recipes so you can find them over at Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. I used Mel’s recipe for Unbelievable Chocolate Cake and Fantastic {Easy} Buttercream […]

  74. Diana says:

    I made it the other day and I loved it so did the kids and everybody else. this is one that will be making all the time thanks for sharing

  75. nosh says:

    Hi ! I have made this cake 4 times now and everytime i have the same problem. The top gets crusty and i have to take off a whole layer 🙁 its such a moist and fluffy cake inside. When ever im baking it the sides bake quicker and sink a bit and middle is fine . Except the crusty layer on top. This time i made cupcakes and had no such problem. No crust. Any tip i can try to help the cake not form that hard crust . I dont over bake i think. Maybe not grease the sides of pan?

    • Mel says:

      nosh – What brand and size of pans are you using? Also, sometimes buttering the pan instead of using nonstick cooking spray can help (but usually I only notice the crustiness on the sides of the cake not necessarily the top). I am sorry it hasn’t turned out for you!

      • nosh says:

        Its a 9 by 13 inch.dark colour pan. Do you think it will help if i use the light color pan ? Which ones are better for cakes if you can let me know . THANX A LOT for all your help.

        • Mel says:

          nosh – Yes, usually light-colored aluminum pans heat more evenly and don’t darken the crust. I try to stay away from nonstick bakeware (but I use nonstick cookware like skillets all the time).

  76. Ang says:

    Would coconut oil work in place of vegetable oil?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Ang – I haven’t tried it in this cake but I’ve used it in other breads/cakes and it works great so I definitely think it is worth a try.

  77. Cathy says:

    Hi Mel,
    As a general rule I don’t post comments. I stumbled on to your site and have made numerous things over the past month, with good success. This cake and the associated Magical frosting turned out so wonderfully well that I feel an “atta girl” is deserved. Thank you for posting this recipe.
    Inland northwest addition: I often add frozen huckleberries to chocolate cake. Just a sprinkle on top of the frosting before serving.

    • Mel says:

      Thanks, Cathy! I’m so happy you loved this cake and other recipes you’ve tried. I’d die to be close to huckleberries – love the suggestion of adding them to chocolate cake!

  78. Aubri says:

    I have made this cake probably 10 times and it fell every single time. I tried a few things on the high altitude ingredient guide from King Arthur flour, and it finally turned out perfectly! I was so excited, I screamed out loud when it came out of the oven looking so lovely! I made it in 2 9 inch rounds and split those in half, then filled all of the layers with chocolate whipped cream and then poured some ganache over the top. To.die.for. This will be my go to chocolate cake. No more mixes. Thanks Mel!

  79. Baerbel says:

    Hi Mel,
    I like your blog very much and it’s time to tell you!
    Thank you for this great recipe! I’ve tried on saturday (only reduced sugar) and the cake turned out wonderful! I made a cream cheese frosting and garnished with a Black Forest-Topping.
    Greetings from Germany 🙂

  80. cakeholic says:

    Hi Mel, what is the best oils for baking? can I just use palm oil instead of others expensive oil like coconut or canola? Thank u

  81. Megan Lang says:

    I made these into cupcakes to practice with the recipe for my son’s birthday cake. He wanted a chocolate ice cream cake and I needed a firm cake to work with. The cupcakes were the perfect consistency the day after baking, and the ice cream cake turned out perfect as well! It was a real hit! Thank you for the wonderful recipe! Now I’m curious to try making it into a white cake. I might play with it a little; the moisture content is just perfect.

  82. Suzanne says:

    I made this tonight, and I seemed to have multiple issues. It sunk in the middle, almost overflowed at 2/3 filled, and I couldn’t get it out of the pan (with proper greasing/cocoa in pan and I let it cool appropriately.) It was so very crumbly. Even if I could have gotten it out of the pan, I wouldn’t have been able to ice it. 🙁 My family though it was the best tasting chocolate cake they had ever had….)

  83. Jill says:

    tried it this weekend and it was a hit!! everybody loved it. thank you!

  84. Brianne says:

    what do you think about substituting butter for the vege oil?

  85. Sannd says:

    Hi. I’m hoping to try this and wanted to know what type of cocoa is used (Dutched or natural). Also, what kind of flour (bleached all-purpose, or unbleached all purpose … Unbleached can cause dips)? Finally, how do you measure the flour…dip and sweep, lightly spooned, of sifted into measuring cup (all are significantly different….. I usually weigh ingredients!). Thanks!

  86. Andrea says:

    Umm, hello! Wowza! I made this cake for my son’s first birthday and we are still raving about it. Simply SO moist and decadent and tasty with the perfect amount of chocolate (even for the non-chocolate lovers! Which by the way is definitely not me- love me some chocolate). But I also hate this cake because I may have gained a couple pounds by sneaking more than my fair share once everyone from the partay left. Yum, so good.

  87. Maria says:

    Made this in 8-inch pans and totally overflowed. Oven was smoking like crazy but I kept cooking it. Wasn’t sure if it would take on the smoky taste…amazingly it did not! One layer fell apart as I took it out of pan (after cooling)…so, we ate it :-). Great taste. Trying it today in 9-inch. Find it strange in rereading recipe that it is for EITHER 8 or 9-inch and cooking time isn’t specified as different depending on size. Aren’t most recipes specific to 8 or 9 inch??

    • Mel says:

      Some are specific to those pan sizes – I’ve made this in both 8 and 9-inches with no problems; however, my cake pans are extraordinarily high (the edges are almost 3 or 4-inches high) so your comment is good timing as I’ll edit the notes of the recipe to be more specific.

  88. I just finished baking this cake recipe, and was watching it closely to see when or if it fell in the middle. Well, to my surprise, it didn’t, nor did it overflow over the sides. I can only tell you that I used the dry buttermilk powder, ( you add to dry cake ingredients and add the amount of water to the wet ingredients ) and make sure your eggs are at room temperature. Just for fun I may use my magic cake stripes next time. By the way I really don’t like chocolate cake, but my husband and I finished it in two days! Needless to say GREAT recipe! Thanks for sharing! Oh also the perfected yellow cake and magic frosting is also FANTASTIC!

  89. Gessica says:

    Cupcakes worked out great!!! Thanks, Mel! They are my go to from now on!

  90. LaShonda says:

    Hi Mel, I will be making this cake for Thanksgiving and was wondering if it would turn out okay if I substituted coffee instead of warm water. I’ve seen the substitution done while using whole milk, but not buttermilk. I would like to try it but worry if the cake will turn out okay?

  91. Angela says:

    Hi Mel, I’m so looking forward to trying your chocolate cake recipe! I’m planning to make a big tiered cake for my son’s birthday and I was wondering if you’ve ever had success with doubling this recipe (to save time) or if not, do you think it would be ok? Thank you and I’ve got to say I love your website 🙂

    • Angela says:

      I’m also wondering if you think I could use a 10×2.5 or 10×3 round pan (I like to cut one cake rather than stacking layers to ensure it’s even) or would it maybe not cook well in the middle? I realize I would likely need to use more batter but wondering if the recipe would hold up to this? Thank you!

      • Mel says:

        Hi Angela – yes, I’ve doubled this recipe before and it works great. Also, it would work just fine baking in a larger pan (adding more batter to fill about halfway) but usually if I bake in a pan larger than 9 inches I use one of those metal baking nails that you put in the center of the pan before pouring in the batter so it bakes evenly (I have the ateco brand). If you don’t have those, you might decrease the baking temp by 25 degrees so it bakes a bit longer at a lower temp.

  92. Angela says:

    Hi Mel,
    I hope you get this in time but either way it’s a good question for the future:). I’m making my son’s big birthday cake tomorrow morning and was wondering if you’ve used unbleached all purpose flour (that’s what I use for most of my baking but not sue if the difference matters) or if you’ve used unbleached cake flour or a combination of the two. I’m also wondering if using fat free buttermilk matters since that’s all they had at the store (not sure if important to look at another store). Thank you so much and can’t wait to see how it turns out!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Angela – I always use unbleached all-purpose flour so that should work just fine. I haven’t used cake flour in this recipe because quite honestly, it is soft and tender without it but you could experiment. I don’t know how the fat-free buttermilk will fare – I use low fat when I make it. Good luck!

  93. Angela says:

    I’ve got to say that this recipe definitely deserves the title… it is truly “unbelievable”! I made it for a 3 tier birthday cake (covered with buttercream and then fondant) and it was amazing! So moist and delicious! My husband even said it was better than a box cake (he used to believe box cake was better than homemade because it’s tough to get that tender moist crumb). I won’t need to be testing it with cake flour because as is, it’s perfect. Thank you so much!

  94. Britany says:

    My son was wanting a marbled cake for his birthday. I was wondering if you think it would work if I marbled this chocolate cake with your perfected yellow cake? Any experience marbling cakes? 🙂 I noticed that this cake bakes just a bit longer than your yellow cake so I’m not sure if it’d work. Help!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Britany – I’m not an expert at marbling cakes; I’ve done it a time or two a long time ago with recipes specifically intended for that. I’m not sure these two recipes together will make for a good combination – the chocolate cake has a very thin consistency whereas the yellow cake has a thicker batter. I think for marbling to work well, you should use recipes where the batter is the same consistency – does that make sense?

  95. Nic says:

    Made this cake (1/2 recipe, in 9×9 pan) subbing a mixture of Greek yogurt & milk for the buttermilk and used hazelnut oil. Topped with Nutella cream cheese frosting. A new favorite! Thank you for posting. 🙂

  96. Ruby says:

    How many medium sized eggs should i use for this recipe?

    • Mel says:

      I’m not sure – you might try googling the equivalent of medium eggs to large eggs and see how many you should substitute.

  97. Kerri says:

    Mel, I have to leave a comment. This was AMAZING. I made a caramel version of the magic frosting by using brown sugar (I had to add lots of powdered sugar at the end to get the right consistency, but the flavor was ridiculous) and my husband and I couldn’t believe how great it was.

    You have become my go to recipe source. I check your website before I go anywhere else and I honestly have never been disappointed.

  98. Kris says:

    AMAZING! The cake and suggested frosting….both amazing. The only thing that made it better were the strawberries and grapes that my 4 yr. old wanted to decorate it with for his birthday. 🙂 Thanks to the reviews, I baked mine in three 9 inch rounds and it worked perfectly. (My rounds are only 1 3/4″ deep.) Thanks for a myriad of great recipes. I try 4 or so new recipes each week from your website and I’ve not been disappointed yet.

  99. Daniel says:

    I made this cake, it turned out absolutely delicious and perfect, just like Mel said it would, I did make a few changes though. I added about 1/4 of a teaspoon more than the recipie stated and folded the batter by hand. I didn’t have any buttermilk on hand so I used lemon juice and whole milk, It turned out great even though the lemon reacted with the baking soda. I also traded the vanilla extract for half strongly brewed tea and half strongly brewed coffee, I also changed 1/4 of the water for coffee.
    * the batter turned out pretty wet but the result was great
    * I put a pan of water under the cake to assure that it is baked evenly
    * I put cocoa powder in whipped cream and made a mousse to put on top of the cake, it was delicious
    I give this recipie a five out of five
    Thanks Mel

  100. Aurora says:

    Hi Mel,

    I kind of skimmed through your comments to see if this question already came up, but I didn’t see anything. Is recipe good for making and stacked/Tiered cake? Making a 6″ cake stacked on top of a 9″ cake.

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