Who wants my chocolate cake recipe?! Yes, I'm boasting, but my recipe is a crowd-pleaser for a reason - well, many reasons! It's rich, moist, and full of chocolatey goodness. And it's extra special with buttermilk as the secret ingredient. It's a simple yet perfect birthday cake, dessert, or even a snack. I mean, do you need a reason to make a chocolate cake this good?!
Chocolate Cake Recipe
Not only is this chocolate cake recipe delicious, but it's also very easy to make and suitable for beginners. It's a no-brainer recipe, but wait till you have a bite! It is everything you need from a chocolate cake… It's "THE" chocolate cake, a blank canvas for any filling or frosting you will add, or perfectly enjoyed just as it is. The reward is much higher than the small effort you put in!
Ingredients for Chocolate Cake Recipe
- Flour 1 ⅓ cups - Use all-purpose flour for this chocolate cake. It gives a perfect consistency, with the right balance of airiness and density.
- Natural cocoa powder ½ cup - Only use natural unsweetened cocoa powder for this chocolate cake, and use the best one you can get. Hershey's and Ghirardelli are my two favorites. Important: Do not use Dutch-processed cocoa in this recipe; it won't work well with the baking soda.
- Baker's sugar 1 cup - The amount of baker's sugar (caster sugar) in this recipe is perfect for me - not too sweet, leaving a hint of pleasant cocoa bitterness. But feel free to adjust the amount of sugar to your liking. Or why not experiment with different types of sugar?
- 1 cup buttermilk - Buttermilk is one of the reasons why this chocolate cake recipe is so good. Buttermilk helps to keep the cake super soft and moist with a velvety crumb.
- 2 eggs - Use two large eggs, at room temperature, for this chocolate cake recipe. Lightly whisk the eggs until just mixed but not foamy.
- Melted butter 120g (4 ½ oz) - Butter enriches this delicious chocolate cake recipe. You can substitute it with the same amount of neutral-flavor oil if you prefer.
- Baking soda 1 teaspoon - For the leavening agent, use baking soda (bicarbonate of soda). It reacts with the natural cocoa powder, resulting in a beautiful reddish tone, the signature of the classic chocolate cake.
- Vanilla essence 1 teaspoon - Enhance the flavor with vanilla extract. You can never go wrong with vanilla in your chocolate cake.
- Buttercream frosting - optional for decoration.
How do you make a chocolate cake from scratch? Read on below for step-by-step instructions.
- The prep work - Preheat the oven to 350°F | 175°C. Grease a 9-inch x 2 ½ -inch deep (23cm x 6cm) round cake pan with softened butter or cooking spray, then line the bottom with parchment paper.
- The dry mixture - In a large mixing bowl, sift the all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda. Then, stir in the sugar and make a well in the center.
- The wet mixture - In a jug or another clean bowl, combine the buttermilk, melted butter, beaten eggs, and vanilla essence. Stir gently until incorporated.
- Making the batter - Pour the wet mixture into the dry mix. Beat with an electric mixer on high speed for 1 minute or until the batter is thick and creamy. (You can also use a hand whisk. It takes quite a lot of elbow grease, though the result is still worth it!)
- Baking time! Pour the chocolate cake batter into the greased and lined pan. Then, bake for 40 - 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Be patient… Take out the pan from the oven. Allow the cake to cool for 5 minutes before turning it onto a wire rack. Please don't cut your cake immediately, as it will crumble like crazy. Let it cool completely to room temperature (30-40 minutes). And don't frost your cake while it's hot or warm; the frosting will melt into a mess. I know it's hard not to dig in, but - as cliché as it sounds - patience is a virtue!
Best Chocolate Cake Recipe Tips
How can I Make my Cake Soft and Moist?
Here are some tips to ensure that your chocolate cake is soft and moist every time:
- Ingredients temperature - ensure that the ingredients are at the correct temperature. For this chocolate cake recipe, take the eggs out of the fridge for at least 30 minutes before starting to bake. This will ensure that the eggs will be at room temperature.
- Oven temperature - avoid opening the oven door before the cake is cooked. Opening the oven too soon and letting the heat escape can cause your cake to sink.
- Sifting - sifting the flour, cocoa and bi-carb will add air and make the mixture lighter. This will assist in making your cake spongy and fluffy.
- Baking soda / bi-carb - ensure that the baking soda/bi-carb is stored in a cool, dry place with the lid securely fastened and is not past the expiry date. This will assist with the cake properly rising each time.
Frosting and Filling Ideas for Quick and Easy Chocolate Cake Recipe
This perfect chocolate cake recipe can hold a generous filling or frosting. So versatile!
- Chocolate ganache
Beautiful shiny frosting without sacrificing the chocolate goodness!
- Vanilla and cinnamon buttercream cake layers
Chocolate + vanilla? Yum!
- Chocolate and peanut butter buttercream
Add extra oomph to the buttercream with a dollop of homemade peanut butter!
- Coffee buttercream frosting recipe
The perfect pairing for the classic chocolate cake.
Chocolate Cake Recipe - How to Make Chocolate Cake:
As an Egg-Free Chocolate Cake Recipe
Eggs in this chocolate cake recipe act as a binder and give extra moisture and richness. However, if you're vegan or don't want to include eggs, you can try this hack to substitute the eggs. Replace each egg with ¼ cup of unsweetened applesauce. It's that simple! No adjustment whatsoever to the other ingredients.
As a Vegan Chocolate Cake Recipe
This simple chocolate cake recipe is perfectly convertible to suit all my vegan friends! To make the best chocolate cake recipe vegan, substitute the eggs with applesauce or powdered egg substitute, make some DIY buttermilk, and replace the butter with the same amount of neutral-flavor vegetable oil.
As a Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake Recipe
To make this best ever chocolate cake recipe gluten-free, substitute the all-purpose flour with the same amount of gluten-free flour. If your gluten-free flour mix doesn't include xanthan gum, add ½ teaspoon of the gum to every cup of flour.
What to Serve with Chocolate Cake - Best Cake Chocolate
- Brown bread ice cream - this delicious brown bread ice cream is semifreddo style; no ice cream machine needed! It makes the perfect accompaniment to the best homemade chocolate cake recipe.
- Vanilla ice cream - a scoop of classic vanilla ice cream served on the side of a slice of good chocolate cake is always appreciated.
- Butterscotch sauce - this thick and rich 3-ingredient butterscotch sauce from my sticky date pudding recipe poured over the top of a warmed slice of classic chocolate cake is delicious.
- Clotted cream - is a perfect pairing to serve with this easy moist chocolate cake recipe.
- Chocolate ganache - drizzle this decadent silky chocolate ganache sauce over the top of your cocoa chocolate cake.
Chocolate Cake Recipe FAQs
What Makes a Cake Really Moist?
Follow these baking tips to ensure a moist chocolate cake recipe every time.
- The ratio of wet to dry ingredients - if there is too high a ratio of dry ingredients to wet ingredients, a cake can taste dry. Carefully measure out all of your ingredients each time for a best moist chocolate cake.
- Buttermilk - is an excellent way of adding moisture to a cake. You can also use sour cream and plain yogurt in some cake recipes to add moistness to a cake.
- Overbake - don't overbake your cake, or it will become too dry. To check if a chocolate cake is cooked, it should come slightly away from the pan's sides. You can also check by inserting a skewer into the center of the cake; it should come out clean or with just a few moist crumbs on it. Another way to check if your cake is cooked is to press down on the cake to check that it springs back.
- Cake flour - is more finely ground than all-purpose flour and can help make your yummy chocolate cake soft, less dense, and moist. You can buy different cake flours. Some are for baking biscuits, pastries, cakes, and other types for baking sponges and steamed buns. You can also buy cake flours with and without raising agents included.
How to Store Chocolate Cakes
- If your cake has been frosted - Chocolate frosting and other frostings can keep your cake from losing moisture. Hence, you don't even need plastic wrap. Covering it with plastic wrap would only make a mess. That being said, you still need to protect your cake from dust, pet hair, and such. Store your chocolate cake under a cake keeper or an upturned bowl. At room temperature, a frosted chocolate cake will last up to 3- 4 days, and in the refrigerator, it'll last for up to 1 week, depending on the type of frosting.
- If your cake hasn't been frosted - After cooling to room temperature, wrap your bare cake tightly with plastic wrap. At room temperature, it'll last for 3-4 days. In a refrigerator, it'll last for up to 1 week. And in the freezer, it'll taste fresh for up to 3 months!
Is Chocolate Cake Better with Oil or Butter?
You can make many chocolate cake recipes with oil instead of butter.
- Taste - Adding oil rather than butter will give a good chocolate cake recipe a slightly different taste profile. Experiment with oil such as coconut oil - not only will it be the fat source for the recipe but also a flavor enhancer. Chocolate + coconut = delicious!
- Texture - By adding oil instead of butter, you can achieve a cake that is more spongy, tender, and has a fluffier texture. If you want a firmer cake, such as a tiered wedding cake, you will want to add butter rather than oil.
- Cost - Oil is generally much cheaper than using butter as one of the chocolate cake recipe ingredients.
Can I Freeze a Chocolate Cake Decorated with Frosting?
You can freeze a frosted, fully decorated cake. Put your cake in the freezer uncovered for 4-5 hours, or until entirely ice-solid. Then, transfer it into an extra-large plastic bag or gently wrap it in plastic or aluminum foil. Put the cake back into the freezer, and store it for up to 3 months.
To thaw, carefully uncover the cake, put it under a cake keeper, then let it sit in the refrigerator overnight.
Note: Not all fillings or frostings, such as meringue-based frosting, are ideal for freezing.
What if I Don't Have Buttermilk?
The acidity of buttermilk is essential to make this chocolate cake recipe extra soft and moist. However, if you don't have buttermilk on hand, don't worry. My article on types of milk features a buttermilk section with a DIY recipe for you!
Chocolate Cake Recipe
- 9-inch x 2 ½-inch deep (23cm x 6cm) round cake pan
- 1 ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda bi-carb soda
- ½ cup cocoa powder natural
- 1 cup baker's sugar caster sugar
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 eggs room temperature
- 120 g butter (4 ½ oz) melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- buttercream frosting optional for decoration
- Preheat the oven to 350°F |175°C. Grease a 9-inch x 2 ½-inch deep (23cm x 6cm) round cake pan and line with parchment paper.
- Sift flour, cocoa, and baking soda in a mixing bowl. Stir in sugar. Make a well in the centre.
- Heat the butter in a heatproof bowl in the microwave for 30-seconds or until melted. Put aside to cool slightly.
- In a jug combine the buttermilk, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla. Pour into flour mixture.
- Using an electric mixer, on high speed, beat for 1 minute or until the batter is thick and creamy.
- Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to rest in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- One cake vs individual muffins – follow the instructions in the recipe for making the cake mixture, but instead grease a 12-hole muffin tray. Pour the chocolate cake mixture into each muffin mold and bake for 20-25 muffins.
- Cocoa - it is best to use natural unsweetened cocoa powder for this recipe. The Dutch-processed version won’t work as well.
- Room temperature eggs – take your eggs out of the fridge 30 minutes before starting to bake.
- Baking soda / bi-carb – always check the expiry date of your baking soda before you start to cook and make sure the container is always stored in a cool and dry place.
- Sifting – always sift the dry ingredients to ensure that your cake is light and fluffy.
- Vegan and dairy-free option – use soy-based milk and make your own buttermilk. Substitute in plant-based butter and replace the eggs with either applesauce or powdered egg substitute.
- Gluten-free option – substitute the all-purpose flour with the same amount of gluten-free flour.
Chocolate Cake Recipe - In Conclusion
With ingredients most likely already available in your pantry and with a taste this good, I guarantee you'll make this chocolate cake recipe at least once a month! An upcoming birthday for someone special? Hosting a party? Attending an office gathering? An at-home anniversary dinner? In need of a mood booster? Make this chocolate cake recipe!