Traditional recipes

Cocoa Layer Cake

Cocoa Layer Cake



  • 1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (spooned into cup to measure, then leveled)
  • 1 cup lukewarm water, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour (spooned into cups to measure, then leveled)
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature, beaten to blend


  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/3 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Special equipment

  • 3 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 11/2-inch-high sides

Recipe Preparation


  • Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 350°F. Butter three 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line with parchment paper rounds; butter parchment. Whisk cocoa and 1/2 cup warm water in small bowl. Whisk buttermilk and 1/2 cup water in another small bowl. Sift flour, baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat both sugars and butter in large bowl until pale yellow and fluffy (mixture will appear granular), about 5 minutes. With mixer running, gradually add beaten eggs, then beat until smooth and fluffy, about 15 seconds. Add cocoa mixture; beat to blend. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk mixture in 2 additions, beating to blend after each addition. Divide batter among pans (about 1 3/4 cups each).

  • Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, reversing pans halfway through baking, about 18 minutes. Cool completely in pans on racks.


  • Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, and 1/2 teaspoon (scant) salt. Gradually stir in cream. Stir until mixture is very hot and just begins to simmer at edges. Reduce heat to low; stir 1 minute to let flavors blend. Transfer to medium bowl; stir in vanilla (frosting will resemble chocolate sauce). Chill until just thickened, stirring occasionally, about 1 1/2 hours. Let stand at room temperature.

  • Run knife around cake sides. Carefully invert 1 cake onto plate (cake is very tender); peel off parchment. Spread with 1/2 cup frosting. Invert second cake onto palm of hand. Position cake 2 inches above frosted cake layer. Carefully slide cake onto first cake layer. Peel off parchment. Spread cake with 1/2 cup frosting. Repeat with third cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Do AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome; let stand at room temperature.

  • Cut into wedges and serve.

,Photos by Christopher Griffith

Nutritional Content

One serving contains: Calories (kcal) 619.0 %Calories from Fat 46.2 Fat (g) 31.8 Saturated Fat (g) 19.6 Cholesterol (mg) 129.8 Carbohydrates (g) 84.2 Dietary Fiber (g) 4.6 Total Sugars (g) 59.8 Net Carbs (g) 79.6 Protein (g) 6.4 Sodium (mg) 317.8Reviews Section

Recipe Summary

  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 ounces red food coloring
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 1 ½ cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Grease two 9 inch round pans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Make a paste of cocoa and food coloring. Set aside.

Combine the buttermilk, salt and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the shortening and 1 1/2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the cocoa mixture. Beat in the buttermilk mixture alternately with the flour, mixing just until incorporated. Stir together baking soda and vinegar, then gently fold into the cake batter.

Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To Make Icing: In a saucepan, combine the milk and 5 tablespoons flour. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Set aside to cool completely. Cream together butter, 1 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla until light and fluffy, then stir in the cooled milk and flour mixture, beating until icing reaches spreading consistency.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

Mix on low speed for 30 seconds to combine.

Add the eggs, oil, and sour cream.

Mix on low speed until combined.

Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes. Then, reduce the speed to low and gradually pour in the hot water (be careful to pour very slowly so it doesn’t splash). The batter will be soupy. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl mix again until evenly combined.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans.

Bake for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool the cake layers in the pans on a rack for 10 minutes. Invert the cakes onto a wire rack, remove the pans and cool completely.

While the cakes cool, make the frosting.

Make the Frosting

Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl.

Cook in the microwave in 20-second intervals, stirring in between, until it’s about three-quarters of the way melted. Stir, allowing the residual heat in the bowl to melt the remaining chocolate completely. (If necessary, place the chocolate back in microwave for a few seconds.) Set aside to cool.

In a food processor, combine the butter, confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder and salt.

Process until smooth, about 30 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Then add the corn syrup and vanilla.

Process until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the lukewarm melted chocolate.

Pulse until smooth and creamy, 10 to 15 seconds. Do not overmix.

When the cakes have cooled, place one cake layer on a serving plate. Using an icing spatula or butter knife, spread about 3/4 cup of the frosting over the first layer. Top with the second layer, then spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake, swirling decoratively.

Reviews ( 20 )

Real Simple Frosting Recipe • 1 1/2 pounds (24 ounces) semisweet chocolate, chopped • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (3 sticks), at room temperature Melt the chocolate in a medium bowl set over (but not in) a saucepan of simmering water, stirring often, until melted. Let cool to room temperature (do not let it solidify). Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy. With the mixer running, slowly add the chocolate and beat until combined and smooth.

I would like have the frosting recipe that is on the cake shown. Please email me with the frosting recipe. I cannot imagine you posting a cake recipe without the frosting recipe shown to ?

makes 12 LARGE cupcakes great recipe.

Does it take 1 cup of water?? Water is not in the list of ingredients.

I have not tried but will give it a shot soon. Looks great! In the meantime you cut the recipes calories in half by making the serving 16 instead of 8 servings. I imagine that this cake could also be made in a 13 x 9 pan and no one would carve that into eight pieces! Better yet, you could cut it into 24 pieces (4 x 6) if you made it in a pan. I have been of sugar now for 3 months and feel great. Finally have the sweet tooth under control. Strangely, the portion problem is also under control and I can have a small slice ( like 1/24 of a pan) and be completely satisfied. Cured a 50 year habit in just under a month.

Really. It's CHOCOLATE CAKE. it's supposed to have a "high calorie count". LOL!!

Fantastic! This cake is so rich, dense, moist and fudgy. Just what I was looking for. I made it for a family gathering and everyone loved it. I used a basic chocolate meringue buttercream instead of the frosting suggested. And for those of you worried about calories. How often to you really eat something so decadent? Sometimes you have to treat yourself. Also, I can not see anyone eating 1/8th of this cake as a serving. I know we got AT LEAST 16 servings out of it. And yes, regular exercise is key to being able to occasionally enjoy such things!

This cake was SO INCREDIBLY DELICIOUS! It is now officially my standard chocolate cake. Dense, moist, still fluffy, and rich. It is not very difficult to make. I frosted with a homemade butter cream, and it was awesome. I ate a ton of it by myself, but like another reviewer said, it serves more than 8, and a thinner slice is more than sufficient because it is so rich (make sure you have a glass of milk handy!) Enjoy! : )

If you all would put on your running shoes and move your body every once in a while, you wouldn't have to worry about the calories so much!

I wonder if anyone has used this recipe to make cupcakes? I wonder about the difference in baking time. Oh, and if you don't like the calorie count, find another website.

I made this for Easter. It was a hit! It served many more than 8. It was very rich so a small slice was perfect. I highly recommend this and will be saving the recipe to make it again.

Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success: How to Make Chocolate Cake

  1. Step one is prep your pan! We don’t want your cake sticking to the sides or bottom, so I STRONGLY suggest lining the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper and then spraying the baking pan with nonstick spray. To make removing the cake from the pan super easy, I prefer to use a 9″ springform pan for this recipe. But a regular 9″ cake pan should work fine!
  2. Sift the dry ingredients (all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt). This helps ensure a smooth batter!
  3. Bring your eggs, milk, and sour cream to room temperature before baking! Because cold ingredients don’t bond!
  4. Be sure to stir your batter just until it’s combined. You do not want to over mix! So I actually suggest you stop mixing when you can still see the tiniest trail of dry ingredients.
  5. For an extra flavorful chocolate cake, use hot coffee in place of the hot water. It adds great flavor!
  6. Don’t over bake! Start checking on your cake at 45 minutes. It’s ready when a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  7. Place cake pan on a cooling rack and be sure to cool for at least 30 minutes in the pan, before removing and cooling on the rack completely.

Self-Rising Chocolate Cake

This fine-grained, tender cake, with its rich chocolate flavor, pleases both adults and children. Its level top makes it ideal for layer cakes.


  • 6 tablespoons (85g) butter, at room temperature, at least 65°F
  • 6 tablespoons (74g) vegetable oil
  • 2 cups (397g) sugar
  • 3/4 cup (63g) Dutch-process cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 3/4 cups (312g) King Arthur Unbleached Self-Rising Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (340g) water


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 8" or two 9" round cake pans.

Beat together the butter, oil, sugar, cocoa, and vanilla extract until they form a smooth paste. The sugar will stay granular.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping the bottom of the bowl after each addition.

Add the flour alternately with the water, mixing at medium-low speed and beginning and ending with the flour. Once the last of the flour is added, mix briefly, just until smooth.

Divide the batter between the pans. Cakes will self-level in the oven, so there's no need to smooth the top with a spatula. However, it does help to remove any large bubbles by tapping the cake pans firmly on the counter 7 or 8 times.

Bake the cakes for 30 to 35 minutes, until their tops spring back and a cake tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean.

Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, run a spatula around the edges to loosen, and turn out onto a rack to cool completely. Frost and fill as desired our Super-Simple Chocolate Frosting is a great choice.

Chocolate Cake

This chocolate cake uses butter for flavor and a bit of oil for a never-fail moist crumb, ideal for celebrations. With more of a milk chocolate, rather than dark chocolate flavor, it's perfect for kids.


  • 2 1/4 cups (269g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (64g) unsweetened cocoa, Dutch-process or natural
  • 1 3/4 cups (354g) granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons (113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (64g) vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (227g) milk
  • 1/2 cup (113g) coffee or water
  • 4 large eggs


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour your choice of pans: one 9" x 13" pan, two 9" round pans, or three 8" round pans.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa, and sugar into a large mixing bowl.

Add the butter and mix at low speed for 1 minute. With the mixer running, add the oil and continue mixing until the mixture looks sandy, about 30 seconds more.

In a large measuring cup, combine the vanilla with the milk and coffee(or water), and add all at once to the dry ingredients. Mix for 1 minute at low speed, stop and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, then mix for 30 seconds more.

Take it a step further

How to tell when cake is done

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well at medium-high speed between additions.

Scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl, and mix for 30 seconds more. The batter will be thin.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan(s) of your choice. Smooth out the tops of the layers with an offset spatula.

Bake for 34 minutes for a 9" x 13" pan, 28 to 30 minutes for 9" layers, and 24 to 26 minutes for 8" layers.

The cake is done when the top springs back when very lightly touched in the center, and the edges just begin to pull away from the edge of the pan. A cake tester inserted in the center will come out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven and let cool completely in the pan(s) on a rack before turning out of the pans to frost.

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Chocolate Cake Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar (500 grams)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp (2 sticks, 226 grams)
  • 4 large eggs, room temp (224 grams)
  • 1 tsp baking soda (6 grams)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder (6 grams)
  • 1 tsp salt (6 grams)
  • 1 cup hot water (237 grams)
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temp (240 grams)
  • 1 cup black cocoa (100 grams)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (390 grams)

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 2 cups (or 4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (452 grams)
  • 1 cup unsweetened baking cocoa, sifted (100 grams)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (3 grams)
  • 6 cups powdered sugar (750 grams)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (115 grams)
  • 1 1/3 cups of melted dark chocolate, cooled (232 grams)

Cocoa Layer Cake - Recipes

2 cups Zulka granulated sugar

3 large eggs, room temperature

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Frosting: 3 cups heavy cream, 1 ½ teaspoon peppermint extract, ¾ cup powdered sugar, ⅓ cup Instant Chocolate Pudding Mix

Toppings: Peppermint Patties, Peppermint Candies, Sprinkles

Grease 2 8 x 2 inch round cake pans with butter and flour or cooking spray.

Combine sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.

Beat in eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, batter is going to be very thin.

Pour 2 cups of batter into each 6 inch pan or divide evenly between the two 8 inch pans.

Bake 6 inch cakes for 30-35 minutes and 8 inch cakes for 40-45 minutes until toothpick comes clean from center.

Cool in pans for at least 10 minutes and loosen from sides of pan before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Whip frosting ingredients together in a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on medium high until light and fluffy about 4-5 minutes.

Add about 1½ to 2 cups of frosting to the top of one of the layers of cake, spreading evenly over it, then topping with the second layer of cake. Use a frosting spatula to generously frost the outside of the cake. Serve within 2 hours or store in the fridge for up to 24. Top with candy just before serving.

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