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 70 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 70 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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  • Victoria Kolawole says:

    Pls what is the quantity of coffee to be use and its its be desolve in water? If yes, what quantity of hot water?

    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      Hi, Victoria! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. Use 1 cup of freshly brewed coffee in this recipe. If you are making one cup of coffee, you would generally add 1-2 tablespoons of ground coffee to the water. You could also substitute hot water for the coffee if you don’t have any brewed coffee on hand. Have a great day!

  • allison says:

    is there a substitute for buttermilk?

    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      Hi, Allison! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. We have not tried a substitution for buttermilk in this recipe, but we do have a few homemade buttermilk recipes if that helps you out. Have a great day!

  • Stella says:

    Hello, thanks for the receipe. I really want to try it out but at what point should the chocolate chips be added? Thanks

    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      Hi, Stella! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. Fold in the chocolate chips (up to 2 cups) after adding the coffee (right before pouring the batter into the pans). Have a great day!

  • Jody says:

    I love all the little things you say that makes the cake just Scrumptious! Thank you so much for sharing

  • Tracy L House says:

    I have made this cake 100 times. It’s delicious and always turns out so good. However tonight it collapsed in the center completely. What did I do wrong? Oven temp was right. I didn’t open the door. A double checked my ingredients. The only real difference is I doubled the recipe; could that have had some affect?

  • Maya says:

    Stating that it’s the perfect chocolate cake is not a lie. I made this cake last week, and not only was it super easy to make, it was the probably one of the most delicious cakes I ever made and ever tasted. Even after a few days in the fridge (covered) it stays moist and delicious. Definitely on my list of recipes to keep!

  • vicki says:

    This really is the perfect chocolate cake! I’ve made this twice already and the second time I halved the recipe to bake in a 9 inch square pan for like a small sheet cake and it still turned out amazing 🙂 The texture is fantastic; Super moist, soft and not too sweet. Thank you!!

  • Teresa says:

    Hi! I’ve tried this recipe, sift the ingredients, check the oven temp, but the center collapse 🙁

    the flavor is great but i’m not sure what happen…


  • Roseanne Macisaac says:

    Just love your recipes, amazing!!!!!!!!!

  • Carol Payne says:

    Hi , living in UK. Buttermilk. Is not on most shelves. What’s a good substitute. We have whole milk. Single cream double cream or whipping cream. Soft cheese. Any your cooking temperature is different setting to ours. And we don’t have a lot of your products. But I try.

  • louise says:

    The photo shows a 3 layer cake but the recipe says 2- 8 inch cake pans. I had to cook the 2 layers for at least 50 minutes. Should it be 3 -8 inch pans?

    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      Hi, louise! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. For the pictures, we actually doubled the recipe to get four layers. I hope this helps, and have a great day!

  • Trina says:

    What is the best way to store a cake after being made? How long does a cake last for?

  • Sherry says:

    I have made this cake as written many times and it is excellent. However, my husband would like it as a 9×13 for his birthday this week. Is this enough batter for this size and how long should it bake?

  • Suzi King says:

    I made this for my boss. He is 75 and never had a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. He LOVED it.

  • Tiffany says:

    This cake was great. This was the first time I’ve added coffee to chocolate cake and now I have to do it every time. Thank you

  • Maureen says:

    Hi! Do you know if this is enough batter for 3 6inch layers? Thank you!

    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      Hi, Maureen! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. There should be enough batter for 3, 6-inch layers. However, we have not tested that, so I can’t say how baking time would be affected. Let us know if you try it, and have a wonderful day!

  • Jenn says:

    This is honestly the best chocolate cake recipe ever!! It is the only one I use now! I even make it gluten free (Robin Hood Gluten Free All Purpose Flour Blend) and it comes out so soft and fluffy every single time! You can’t even tell it’s gluten free! It makes wonderful cupcakes too!! Thank you Amanda for such a wonderful recipe! ❤

  • Robin says:

    I recently moved to Denver area and would like to know if there are any adjustments for high altitude baking this recipe?

    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      Hi, Robin! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. Here are some high-altitude baking tips that might help. Have a wonderful day!

  • Joey says:

    Question and please don’t take this the wrong way . It’s the perfect chocolate cake but it has American buttercream I’m just a student wouldnt Italian buttercream tastes better and not so heavy

    • Amanda Rettke says:

      You can use whatever frosting you prefer.

  • Dj says:

    Thank you so much Amanda I don’t need to go buy over and over to bake chocolate cake thank you so much

  • Margaret Malykhina says:

    Delicious! Everyone loved the chocolate cake. Instead of a regular hot cup of coffee I subbed for one hot cup of Americano and I did a cream cheese frosting instead of the buttercream.

  • Susan Martin says:

    Hi Amanda! I love and use a lot of your recipes! I have a question on the Perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting…I made it today (Wednesday) and want to know if it needs to be refrigerated? I plan to frost the cake either tomorrow or Friday………thanks!

    • Amanda Rettke says:

      Hi Susan – yes, I would refrigerate. I like to place plastic wrap snuggly right on the top of the frosting to keep it moist. Then just make sure it comes to room temperature before you need to use it! 🙂

  • Gisele Thibault says:

    I made this cake exactly like the recipe says and cut it to make 4 layers. Served it the following day. It was moist, rich and one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever had. It also got rave reviews from my guests. I’ll definitely make this cake again!

  • Harsha says:

    Hi what if I don’t have extra large eggs. I can use 3 normal size eggs?

  • Parvathy says:

    As I am vegetarian, I would like to know whether there is a good egg substitute which you would recommend for this cake…
    Thanks in advance

    • Elizabeth Keeney says:

      Hi, Parvathy! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. Here are some egg substitutes you could try. Have a great day!

  • I Am Baker Logo

    Brand new recipes that people find kinda acceptable.