The Perfect Chocolate Cake

filed under: Chocolate Cakes on November 10, 2013

The Perfect Chocolate Cake recipe paired with a Perfect Chocolate Buttercream then decorated with simple rosettes. This is the perfect cake!


Chocolate Cake Recipe

No matter how you decorate this chocolate cake recipe with chocolate buttercream it will taste delicious! This recipe (and the many variations) has been around for many years. This is my version and one that we have been making for many years with great success!

Chocolate Cake on Cake Stand

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe

What makes this recipe the best? First off, it is inspired by Hershey’s chocolate cake recipe which is the same recipe my grandma used. They added coffee to their cake which does magical things to chocolate. Second, this is truly a MOIST and flavorful chocolate cake. Is there anything worse than dry cake? Nope. You will never have that problem with this recipe!

The Perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe and Perfect Chocolate Buttercream on White Cake Stand

I used two 8-inch pans for my cake, but you can also use 9-inch pans. If using 9-inch, you will want to decrease the bake time by up to five minutes. And don’t forget to use GOOP to prepare your pans… it is the BEST!

Do you have to have coffee in this perfect chocolate cake recipe?

1. No, you cannot leave it out.

2. I mean it.

Ok, ok, so you can if you want. But here is what the coffee does… it enhances the flavor of the chocolate. The cake does not taste like coffee at all… it simply tastes more rich.

If you simply must not use coffee, you can substitute hot water.

Overhead of Chocolate Cake with Rosette Frosting

How to Make a Chocolate Cake

First, I recommend reading through the ingredients and making sure everything is out and ready. The eggs and buttermilk should be room temperature so getting them out of the fridge ahead of time will solve that for you. (Same with the butter in the chocolate buttercream recipe.) Here are some egg substitutes you could try if needed.

Make sure dry ingredients are sifted and measured properly. When measuring flour, get out your container or bag. Open it and use a fork to stir it, or sift it, loosening it up. Spoon the flour into a dry measure cup then use the back of a knife to level the cup off. (Or you can measure your ingredients on a scale.)

Use the proper tools. For instance, this recipe used a stand mixer. You can use a hand-held mixer (or even stir by hand) but make sure the ingredients are fully mixed and incorporated before moving on to the next step in the recipe.

Use the best quality ingredients if you are able! Dark cocoa’s or high-quality cocoa, fresh eggs, and good quality vanilla make a difference! Feel free to upgrade to all organic ingredients. When it comes to substitutions though, I do recommend making the recipe as-is first, then altering it to make it yours. If you are making adaptations at a higher altitude, be sure to check out my High Altitude Baking Tips.


Homemade Chocolate Cake Recipe with Pieces Missing on Cake Stand


This is one of the best chocolate cake recipes I have ever had the pleasure of eating.  It’s moist and fudgy but still has a light cake crumb.  It’s got a depth of flavor (which I would attribute to the coffee) and a distinct rich deep chocolate essence.

Piece of Chocolate Cake on Plate with Raspberries

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake

I am often asked how to make this recipe gluten-free. I recommend a good quality gluten-free flour that can be used interchangeably with all-purpose flour. This recipe is best when gluten is used, but will still taste delicious with gluten-free flour.

Double Chocolate Cake Recipe

One of my favorite ways to jazz up this cake is to add chocolate chips to it. My favorite option? Mini chocolate chips! They add the perfect texture and bursts of chocolate. One fun trick when doing this is to add a semi-sweet or dark chocolate chip. For instance, if you are using standard cocoa powder (as the recipe is written) then add semi-sweet chips. If you are using dark cocoa powder or dutch process, try adding milk chocolate chips.

Chocolate Cake with Fruit on Top

Chocolate Wedding Cake

Folks often ask if this is like bakery chocolate cake, or if it can be used in wedding cakes. Yes and no. The flavor and consistency are very similar to a bakery chocolate cake except that it is MORE moist in my experience. Can you make a wedding cake with this recipe? Well, that really depends on the type of wedding cake you are making. The highest I have ever stacked this cake is 4 layers, so I cannot speak its’s durability beyond that. If you are covering this chocolate cake recipe with fondant it may not stand up because of the moisture level.

I made my cake in two 8-inch round cake pans and then divided each layer in two. This made for a 4-layer chocolate cake.

4.99 from 66 votes
The best recipe you will ever try!
The Perfect Chocolate Cake
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
55 mins

This rich and decadent chocolate cake has been around for decades and is always a crowd-pleaser! Perfectly moist, rich, and flavorful.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: The Perfect Chocolate Cake
Servings: 12 slices
Author: Amanda
  • cups (210g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup (90g) good quality unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (240g) buttermilk, room temperature
  • ½ cup (112g) vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons McCormick pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (237g) freshly brewed hot coffee (I use decaf)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and spray two 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray.

  2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl and mix until combined.
  3. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With the mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into two 8-inch round prepared pans and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out mostly clean (not wet).

  5. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
4.99 from 66 votes
Grandma's Classic Recipe!
The Perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Prep Time
15 mins
Total Time
15 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Amanda Rettke
  • 2 c unsalted butter 4 sticks at room temp.
  • 7 1/2 c powdered sugar or one 2lb bag
  • 1 c good quality cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. table salt
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c whole milk or heavy cream
  1. ***THIS RECIPE IS FOR A CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM ROSE CAKE. You may need to halve this recipe if you are not making buttercream roses!***

  2. Place room temperature butter and vanilla into a stand mixer and beat at medium-high for about three minutes. You want it to appear lighter and fluffier.

  3. While butter is in mixer add powdered sugar, cocoa, and salt to a bowl and mix with a whisk. (sift)
  4. With mixer off, add in one cup of the powdered sugar and cocoa mixture. Turn mixer on to low and then slowly add in remaining powdered sugar mixture, one cup at a time.

  5. With mixer still on low, add in milk. Turn mixer to medium high and blend for at least two minutes.
  6. Frosting will appear very light, but it will darken as it sets.

Piece of Chocolate Cake


I want to share with you 3 AMAZING TIPS for making the perfect chocolate cake recipe.

  1. Room Temperature Ingredients. I say this all the time, but it really is important in baking. To quickly warm up eggs, place them in hot water for a minute or so. To heat up milk or buttermilk, pop it in the microwave for a few seconds.
  2. Sift together all dry ingredients. Cocoa is notoriously lumpy and you do not want lumps in your cake. Make sure you sift all dry ingredients at least twice.
  3. Do not open the oven door until cake is almost done. The cake needs to be mostly set before opening the door or the cold air could make it collapse.

Once you get your chocolate fix be sure to try the Perfect White Cake!

If you are planning on making a chocolate rose cake as well, here are some posts to help you along.

Original Rose Cake – Photograph Tutorial

Rose Cake Tutorial on Youtube

The Perfect Birthday Rose Cake

Royal Wedding Rose Cake

Gender Reveal Rose Cake

Neapolitan Rose Cake (one of my favorite cakes of all time!)

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  • Sina Hale says:

    This chocolate cake recipe sounds delicious. One question, though. Why don’t you list the ingredients in the order that they are used? Is there a reason for the order you have put them?
    I think I’ll have to rewrite the list in the order used so I don’t accidentally leave something out.

    • Amanda Rettke says:

      There was a glitch for this recipe when my blog updated. (technical stuff) I always write recipe ingredients in the order they are used.

  • Beth says:

    I make a lot of cakes but THIS recipe for chocolate cake was by far the best I’ve ever made (or eaten!) It’s so moist but holds itself together well for frosting. Thank you for sharing it. 5+ stars from me and my taste testers!

  • Andrea Manthorne says:

    This is very similar to what I call my ‘dump’ cake. It was very moist and delicious. I have made it 2x in the last week or so. Yum!

  • Evangelia Petrou says:

    We loved it!! I really liked it. It also helped my self-appreciation in the kitchen. My children can never say I can’t make a cake they enjoy!
    My husband asks for it every week! Thank you for the recipe.

  • Amelia says:

    Moist and delicious chocolate cake!! I even used the sub-par box store cocoa powder, so I bet it’d be even more fabulous with good quality cocoa powder.

  • Elizabeth Green says:

    I baked one and a half times this recipe, and used two nine inch cake pans and it turned out great! It’s so easy measuring ingredients with a scale using grams! The cake turned out perfectly, so now I have a nice cake for my grandson’s birthday! Thanks for this delicious recipe!

  • Ratna Dewi says:

    I’ve made this”s sooo delicious…tq dear.Highly recomened..

  • Carolyn walker says:

    Looks moist and yumm

  • Sheetal says:

    Amanda, I love your cakes! You always inspired me to back more things. Do you have any suggestions for eggless cake! My hubby doesn’t eat eggs. And I feel guilty when I make cakes with eggs.

    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      Hi, Sheetal! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. You could make this Chocolate Depression Cake. And, for future reference, here are a few egg substitutes you could try. I hope this helps, and have a wonderful day!

  • Elly Sithole says:

    The recipes have improved my baking skills

  • Diane s Davis says:

    My grandma made pretty much this same chocolate cake, and she told me it wasn’t the same without the coffee, and it sure isn’t! It is the best ever, and everyone asks for the recipe, and when they find out that it has coffee in it, they say, “oh, that’s what must be the secret!” I tell them they are right! She always made Bittersweet Chocolate Frosting for it, and it was out of this world!

  • Gayani says:

    I tried this recipe and the result was simply an incredibly moist, delicious chocolate cake! Absolutely love it and will be my one and only go-to chocolate cake recipe from now until eternity!

  • Geneva says:

    Would this be sturdy enough to use as a wedding cake or would something need to be added to make it more dense?

    • Amanda Rettke says:

      It’s not very sturdy… unless chilled. It’s a very moist cake.

  • Eunel Lim Mayagma says:

    Ma’am so very nice

  • Nirasha says:

    I would just like to find out what the c in the ingredients list for the frosting is? Is it perhaps cups?

  • Mel says:

    No buttermilk. Is there a homemade recipe I could use to make 1 cup,?

  • June Alward says:

    Can I make The Perfect Chocolate Cake in a 9×13 ? Would I need to change anything to do ot ?

  • Sammie says:

    It has been a great experience trying out your recipes thank you so much

  • Marilyn says:

    I too would like to know if this would make a 9×13 cake.

  • Brenda garcia says:

    can I use the batter for cupcakes?

    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      Hi, Brenda! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. We have not used it for cupcakes, but readers have stated they love using the batter for cupcakes. You may also like this chocolate cupcake recipe. Have a wonderful day!

  • Olivia says:

    I am 10 years old and made this cake for my dads birthday today. It’s the first cake I have ever made and everyone said that it was the best cake they have ever had! I love it.

  • Marie B. Anders says:

    I will be giving this recipe a try. It, like so many of your others, sounds delicious. I would like to also make it with just a basic yellow batter. A restaurant we used to go to many years ago called this an Old Fashioned Cake.

  • Jillian says:

    Would you recommend making this cake but using your Whipped Vanilla Buttercream recipe for the frosting? I wanted to make this for Christmas but want to add a little color as I frost.

    • Amanda Rettke says:

      You certainly can!

  • Eve says:

    This is the best chocolate cake I have made and tasted. To date I have probably made it over six times. I will never use another chocolate cake recipe. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Susan says:

    The BEST chocolate cake! It’s so easy to pull together last minute and is perfect every time. Thank you for the recipe.