I have been searching for a great chocolate cake recipe for years. For my 18th birthday, my mom made an amazing chocolate cake. It was perfect. It was everything that a chocolate cake should be. Unfortunately, the recipe didn’t seem to survive past that day. Losing that recipe was a tragedy. It set the bar for chocolate cake in my eyes. It took me almost a decade to recreate that perfect chocolate cake. I tried at least a dozen recipes and none of them lived up to my expectations. Until now.
I have found it. My search has ended. I now have THE recipe. If you have ever seen the movie Matilda you will surely remember the scene where the boy is forced to eat the most delicious looking chocolate cake ever. I feel just like that boy when I eat this cake. It is my Matilda chocolate cake for sure.
This cake is moist and has the perfect crumb. I cannot imagine making a chocolate cake using any other recipe. It is so easy to make and puts doctored cake mix recipes to shame. I’m eating a piece of the cake as I’m writing this, drooling all over my keyboard. It is insanely delicious. A decades search was worth the wait. Every…decadent…bite. Who wants cake?
I’ve created a video to walk you through every step of making this cake, including the frosting. I have my own cooking show on YouTube. Sure, I gave it to myself, but it’s still awesome. Be sure to check out my channel and subscribe!
I’ve gotten a ton of feedback on this recipe over the years. Scroll down for a full list of Tips, Tricks, and FAQs. The response to this recipe has been enormously positive. I love seeing all of your pictures and hearing all of your stories about making this recipe and loving it! It really is the most amazing chocolate cake!
The journey to landing on this final recipe started when I was only 18 years old. My mother made an amazing chocolate cake for my birthday and then lost the recipe. For years I sought after that recipe, making cake after cake after cake. I ended up altering recipes, jotting down notes, and testing cake after cake. This was long before I was ever a food blogger. I tested and tested until I landed on this version. Everyone agreed that this was it. This was the cake I had been looking for all those years.
TIPS AND TRICKS AND FAQ
Q: Can this recipe be made into cupcakes?
A: Why yes it can! They are baked at 325 degrees for 20-22 minutes and this recipe makes about 36 cupcakes. You should check out my peanut butter filled cupcakes with whipped chocolate ganache.
Q: Can I make this recipe into only two layers?
A: Yes you can, you’ll need to divide the recipe by 2/3rds. I realize that there are 4 eggs in this recipe so that’s the hard part. Just use 3 eggs. But no, I won’t do the math for you. I truly believe that the most amazing chocolate cake must be 3 layers.
Q: Do I have to use buttermilk? What is buttermilk? Is there a buttermilk substitute?
A: Yes, buttermilk is necessary for this recipe. It has to do with the way it interacts with other ingredients. Buttermilk is the liquid leftover after churning butter. For a quick buttermilk substitute, add 1 tablespoon of either white vinegar or lemon juice to regular milk and let stand 5 minutes before using. It will get clumpy.
Q: Do you have a substitute for eggs?
A: There are numerous options for substituting eggs in baking recipes. You can always try using one of those.
Q: Can I use a different pan size?
A: You are certainly welcome to try, but you’ll need to adjust cooking times and be careful as to how much you fill the pan. This recipe is written for 9-inch round pans, which is a standard size and is meant to be eaten as a 3 layer cake.
Q: Can I use a different frosting?
A: You certainly can! The frosting recipe included here is my favorite go-to, but I also often use a whipped chocolate ganache which I’ve included in my chocolate cupcake recipe. You are also welcome to use any other frosting recipe that you like.
Q: Won’t the hot water cook the eggs?
A: No. It won’t. You aren’t using boiling water and you shouldn’t.
Q: Can I substitute coffee for the hot water?
A: Yes you can. I simply don’t prefer the addition of coffee to my chocolate cake.
Q: What kind of cocoa powder did you use?
A: I used Hershey’s Unsweetened Cocoa Powder in order to use a brand that is most widely available to my readers. I’m also fond of using higher quality cocoa powders like Ghiradelli’s or cocoa powders from specialty chocolatier shops, but those are pretty pricey. I don’t recommend using cheap store brands.
Q: How did you get your frosting so dark?
A: I used half Hershey’s Special Dark Unsweetened Cocoa powder to achieve the dark looking frosting.
Q: Can I make this recipe gluten free?
A: Use gluten free flours at your own risk. Not all gluten free flours are equal and most don’t work as a straight forward substitute for all-purpose flour. I have not tested any gluten free flours in this recipe as I do not have Celiac’s disease.
The Most Amazing Chocolate Cake
For The Most Amazing WHITE Cake click HERE.
- butter and flour for coating and dusting the cake pan
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 1½ cups unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1½ cups buttermilk
- 1½ cups warm water
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Butter three 9-inch cake rounds. Dust with flour and tap out the excess. (see cooking lesson below)
- Mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a stand mixer using a low speed until combined.
- Add eggs, buttermilk, warm water, oil, and vanilla. Beat on a medium speed until smooth. This should take just a couple of minutes.
- Divide batter among the three pans. I found that it took just over 3 cups of the batter to divide it evenly.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes until the cake meets the toothpick test (stick a toothpick in and it comes out clean).
- Cool on wire racks for 15 minutes and then turn out the cakes onto the racks and allow to cool completely.
- Frost with your favorite frosting and enjoy!
Chocolate Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting
I have made this cake with all sorts of frostings. We love a good whipped chocolate ganache on it. I’ve tried malted chocolate frosting, nutella frosting, and even vanilla. But my favorite is this chocolate cream cheese buttercream. This is the frosting used in the photos you see here. I used an extra dark cocoa powder in the frosting which is what resulted in that dark, almost black frosting. It is incredibly rich. I love it!
- 1½ cups butter, softened
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1½ cups unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 7-8 cups powdered sugar
- about ¼ cup milk (as needed)
- In a large bowl, beat together butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Use a hand mixer or stand mixer for best results
- Add in cocoa powder and vanilla extract. Beat until combined.
- Beat in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Add milk as necessary to make a spreadable consistency. The frosting should be very thick and will thicken even more if refrigerated.
This recipe first appeared on The Stay At Home Chef on February 26, 2013