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!

Grandma's Classic Recipe!

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

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.

The Best Ever Chocolate Cake and Best Ever Chocolate Buttercream

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.)

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


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.

NO FAIL Chocolate Cake! This is the recipe people will ask for again and again!

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 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.

5 from 49 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 Rettke
  • 1 3/4 cups (210g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons McCormick pure vanilla extract
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (112g) vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (240g) buttermilk (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (90g) good unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (237g) freshly brewed hot coffee (I use decaf)
  1. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl and mix until combined.
  2. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.
  3. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With 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 at 350°F, until a cake tester or toothpick comes out mostly clean (not wet).

  4. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
5 from 49 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.

I always forget #2!


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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  • Teri says:

    Can I get this recipe rewritten. Every time I click on recipe link I just get the frosting recipe not the cake recipe.

  • Jennifer Buck says:

    Hi, the recipe isn’t coming up, only the buttercream. Thanks!

  • Sarah says:

    Hi I can’t seem to find the chocolate cake receipe, I only can see the frosting.

  • Olga says:

    Cake recipe is great! I have a question about the buttercream frosting, whenn to add heavy cream? That step is missing, or heavy cream is added to ingredients list by miatake? Thanks

  • Debbie says:

    Omg just saying so delish just made it fir my hubby his b’day yummo ty

  • Mona Darwish says:

    Really you are perfect and amazing ♥️

  • Tina says:

    Olga, step #5. It says to add milk, but you may substitute heavy cream for the milk like it explains above.

  • Valli dawson says:

    Thank you so much for your Perfect chocolate cake recipe! My husbands birthday is feb 10th and I’ve been wondering about making him a cake! (As opposed to store bought!) I’m not the best baker, but as long as it tastes good, he’ll be happy.
    Thanks again

  • Alida de Villiers says:


  • patrice montgomery says:

    I am making this cake and frosting tomorrow

  • Donna Myers says:

    I would love love love a recipe for a pound cake that is very moist but has a crusty top. I had one but unfortunately I lost it. All your recipes look so good!

  • Cathy says:

    Hi Amanda. Can’t wait to try this chocolate cake. Did I mention I love chocolate? My son’s birthday is next week and I want to make him a vanilla cake with a nice crumb. Thinking of possibly adding some Fruity Pebbles cereal into the batter (his absolute favorite cereal). Any suggestions? Also thinking of using your short cut Swiss meringue icing to fill and frost it. Thank you for always sharing your great recipes and looking forward to your tips for my son’s birthday cake. 😊

  • Marie Cusumano DePinto says:

    Your recipes are really very good. I’ve been an excellent cook for many, many years even took some classes… I cook everything from desserts to homemade pasta. I enjoy watching your show your pleasant and I just love the recipes… Keep it going girlfriend… Marie Cusumano DePinto

    • Amanda Rettke says:

      Thank you SO much, Marie!

  • Nora McCready says:

    They are not kidding when they say this is the PERFECT chocolate cake recipe! I am a teacher and one of my students selected this recipe for our cupcake cookoff. Generally I find homemade cakes to be “heavy” in texture and dry-espcially when its students learning to bake. This recipe made the BEST cupcake of the 4 types of cakes the kids made. The buttercream chocolate was amazing as well but I’m happy to eat the cake all day long without frosting 😍

    • Amanda Rettke says:

      Love this Nora!!

  • Jane says:

    I absolutely love this cake recipe for the ding dong cake!

    If using this recipe for a sheet cake, how long would the bake time be? I want to make mini ding dong cakes!

    Thank you!

  • Joy says:

    can I bake it on a 9×13 pan for how long? and at what Temp?

  • Pam says:

    How yummy. I’ve sent this to my sister because she loves chocolate sooooooo much. This is another recipe to definitely make. Thank you again for another wonderful recipe ❤️❤️

  • John Hughes says:

    Love these recipes

  • Sandy Preston says:

    Is there a way to make the Perfect Chocolate Cake by substituting the sugar with sweetener? My husband, who is diabetic type II, looked at the cake, & said “if it has sugar in it, that our son & I can eat it, because he can’t eat it!” I have tried to make cakes without sugar before & they always care out flat & rubbery. Any helpful suggestions?
    Thank you,
    Sandy Preston

  • Rhonda Jones says:

    Could I get the recipe for the sourdough starter

  • Diane Robertson says:

    Amanda, are there any changes needed for high altitude bakers?

  • Kristi Christensen says:

    We are gluten free and dairy free in our house with the exception of butter. No one is allergic to that. I have subbed bob mills gluten free flour in this recipe and it turns out perfect. Also I use unsweetened organic almond milk plus one tablespoon lemon juice in place of buttermilk and I believe this is the best cake I’ve ever eaten. People cannot tell that it is a gluten free cake.

    • Amanda Rettke says:


  • Charmaine says:

    This has been my go to chocolate recipe for years…thank u

  • Susan says:

    Can I make this into cupcakes , and if so what you’d the time and temperature be

    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      Hi, Susan! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. We have not tried making this recipe as cupcakes, but generally, most cake recipes can be made as cupcakes. However, you will need to watch the baking time because the cupcakes will take less time (up to half the baking time) compared to the cake. The cupcakes are done when a clean toothpick comes out with a few crumbs on it, but not wet batter. Let us know how they turn out and have a great day!

  • Maja says:


    Does this recipe call for Dutch process cocoa or non dutched?


    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      Hi, Maja! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. Look for unsweetened cocoa for this recipe. I hope this helps, and have a great day!