The Basics: Chocolate Cake

I used to think that baking cakes from scratch was a very scary thing. However, like any skill, practice makes perfect, and once I got over my fear of cakes, I learned they're actually quite simple to make!

There's an easy three-part technique that applies to most cakes. You start by blending sugar with butter, then you add eggs, and finally some liquid and some flour. You put it in the oven, wait, and then you have a cake. See? When written in its most basic form, a cake recipe is totally uncomplicated!

This recipe for an amazingly dense and delicious chocolate cake is one that you should master. It's moist, rich, and everything you could want in a chocolate cake. To give it a try, get the method now.

Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Cake


  1. For the cake
  2. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  3. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  4. 2 teaspoons baking soda
  5. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  6. 1 cup hot brewed coffee
  7. 1 cup unsweetened cocoa
  8. 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  9. 1 cup light brown sugar
  10. 1 cup sugar
  11. 3 eggs
  12. 1 cup buttermilk
  13. 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  14. For the frosting
  15. 8 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  16. 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  17. 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  18. Pinch of sea salt
  19. 2 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  20. 3/4 cup sour cream


  1. Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and dust them with cocoa powder. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the hot coffee and cocoa powder together. Set aside.
  4. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on low speed for 1 minute. Then add the sugars and beat on low speed for 3 minutes until light and fluffy.
  5. With the mixer running, add the eggs, one at a time. Then add the buttermilk and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined.
  6. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the chocolate-coffe-mixture, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. When the mixture is almost combined, turn off the mixer and finish mixing by hand (to avoid overbeating). Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
  7. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. Make the frosting: Melt the chocolate and butter together in the top of a double boiler set over simmering water, or in short bursts in a microwave, stirring until thoroughly melted and combined. Set aside to cool.
  9. In a standing mixer fitter with the paddle attachment, combine the chocolate-butter mixture, vanilla extract, and sea salt on low speed. Slowly add the powdered sugar and continue beating on low speed until the ingredients are combined.
  10. Add the sour cream, increase the speed to medium, and beat until thickened, around 6 minutes. Use immediately and then put the cake in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to set the frosting.

Makes 1 two-layer cake.

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