Perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe

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Chocolate Cake is one of our favorite desserts. Not every day is a chocolate cake kind of day, but when it is, oh boy do I have the most perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe for you!

Perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe with Chocolate Buttercream from shewearsmanyhats.com

For years I could not wait to order dessert when we were dining out for a special occasion. I would always go for the chocolate cake. Chocolate cake is really great! Except that it really wasn’t really great most of the time. Over and over again I found it to be overly sweet, almost too sweet to eat (if you can imagine that), or a bit dry. A dry cake is not a good thing at all. So I began to opt for other desserts to enjoy when out and about, because if you are going to enjoy something indulgent like chocolate cake, it better darn well be worth it, right?

Perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe with Chocolate Buttercream from shewearsmanyhats.com

Enter this scrumptious Chocolate Cake Recipe. Adapted ever so slightly from the Velvet Cocoa Cake Recipe from Martha Stewart, this fabulous cake recipe creates a perfect chocolate cake that is oh so rich and chocolatey without going overboard. It really is perfect! With a slightly dense, velvety texture this cake pairs perfectly with a light, fluffy Chocolate Buttercream and a big cold glass of milk! Because chocolate cake plus milk are one smart and delicious match.

Perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe from shewearsmanyhats.com

How to Make the Perfect Chocolate Cake

  1. The cake preparation is basic enough. Begin by preheating the oven, preparing two 9-inch** round cake pans by coating with butter and then flour. (Other cake pan sizes may be used, but be sure to adjust bake time as needed, until cake is done.)
  2. Whisk together all-purpose flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a large bowl, and set aside.
  3. In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together butter and sugar on medium-high speed until totally combined and smooth. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl at least twice during mixing. It will take about 5 minutes to thoroughly beat together the butter and sugar.
  4. Mix in beaten eggs and vanilla extract. Beat together and continue to beat for a few minutes until fluffy. Be sure to stop and scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl at least once.
  5. In thirds, alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk into the butter mixture. Stop mixing twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  6. When batter is done, divide the batter between the two prepared baking pans. Bake until toothpick, wooden skewer or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Bake time will take about 30-35 minutes. Cool cake in pans for 10 minutes. Invert onto cooling racks and allow to cool completely.
  7. Once cake has cooled completely, frost and serve. Or see notes below about freezing layers. This chocolate cake recipe is shown frosted with a decadent fluffy American Chocolate Buttercream Frosting: Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe from shewearsmanyhats.com

Tips for the Perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe

  • Be sure to thoroughly beat the butter and sugar together, otherwise known as “creaming.” The creaming process helps to aerate the batter which results in a lighter cake texture. Read all about creaming butter and sugar over at King Arthur Baking.
  • The recipe below mentions stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl. It may seem unnecessary, but taking the time to stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl, ensures a thoroughly mixed batter.
  • Flour with a lower percentage of protein content makes for a lighter cake and tender crumb. For this cake recipe I like to use White Lily Enriched Bleached All-Purpose Flour as it contains a smaller percentage of protein content than most other all-purpose flours, at about 9%. Flour specified as cake flour works nicely for this recipe, like King Arthur’s Unbleached Cake Flour, which contains about 10% protein.
  • One tip I wouldn’t skip if time permits is to make the cake layers ahead of time by at least a day or so, or up to a month. Let layers cool completely, then wrap cake layers separately in two layers of plastic wrap, insert into a large freezer ziptop plastic bag, remove any extra air and store in the freezer for up to two months. Freezing the layers helps to create a more moist cake with a lovely texture. It really does work nicely. I now try to plan ahead to allow extra time for freezing. And if I’m really on my game, I’ll go ahead and make a double batch of cakes to have another ready to go for sharing with a friend because you never know when someone else is going to need a chocolate cake to brighten their day.

How to Make a Quick and Easy Buttermilk Substitute

This chocolate cake recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk. Are you out of buttermilk? In a pinch you can make a buttermilk substitute for this cake recipe in about 10 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup of whole milk, stir to combine, then let it sit until it thickens and slightly curdles. It takes about 10 to 15 minutes to thicken up. For this recipe you will add 1 1/2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice (or vinegar) to 1 1/2 cups of milk.

Perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe from shewearsmanyhats.com

More delicious cake recipes you will love:

Perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe with Chocolate Buttercream from shewearsmanyhats.com

Perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe

Perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe from shewearsmanyhats.com

Perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe

Yield: 2 (9-inch) round cake layers
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

A perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe for any special occasion. Make ahead a freeze layers for a moist cake every time.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour*
  • 3/4 cup good cocoa powder (sift to remove any lumps)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1  1/2 sticks or 6 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Butter and flour two 9-inch** round cake pans.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together butter and sugar on medium-high speed until totally combined and smooth, stopping to scrape down bowl at least twice; about 5 minutes.
  4. Add beaten eggs and vanilla. Beat together, stopping to scrape down bowl once. Continue to beat on medium-high for 1-2 minutes until fluffy.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in thirds, alternating with buttermilk; stop to scrape down bowl twice.
  6. Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake at 350-degrees F until toothpick, wooden skewer or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Invert onto cooling racks; cool completely.
  7. Once cool, frost and serve. Or to store in freezer, wrap cake layers separately in 2 layers of plastic wrap, insert into a large freezer zip-top plastic bag, removing extra air and store in freezer for up to 2 months.

Notes

Adapted slightly from Martha Stewart’s Velvet Cocoa Cake.

*I like to use White Lily Enriched Bleached All-Purpose Flour as it contains a smaller percentage of protein which makes for a lighter cake and tender crumb. Flour specified as cake flour works nicely too.

**If using another cake pan size, adjust bake times accordingly. Bake until cake is done and a toothpick, wooden skewer or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.

***If time permits I recommend freezing the layers as noted above. It helps create a more moist cake. As noted above, freeze layers separately wrapped in 2 layers of plastic wrap and inserted into a zip-top freezer bag for up to 2 months.

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Originally published September 4, 2015.