The Best Chocolate Cake Ever

September 10, 2012 — 101 Comments

best-chocolate-cake

I should have known that Ina Garten had the best chocolate cake recipe all along; she is, after all, a goddess. There have been a few times in the past when I thought I had found The Perfect chocolate cake recipe, but every time I thought I had found my go-to, I started to get consistently bad results. Weird textures and sunken tops and what-not. I was a little skeptical when I read all of the glowing reviews surrounding this cake; everyone, and I mean everyone, said it was The Best Chocolate Cake Ever. And that it was easy to boot! Can one recipe really deliver all that? It turns out that the answer is a resounding Yes! Ina really does have the best chocolate cake recipe: it is a snap to make (no whipping, no careful folding, no fancy ingredients, just mix-mix-pour) and it produces a cake that is moist and rich and perfectly springy. My dad gave it perhaps the best compliment a cake can receive when, with eyes as wide as saucers, he stared at me quite dumb-founded and said, “What?! You made this from scratch?!” High praise indeed.

The Best Chocolate Cake Ever
(aka Beatty’s Chocolate Cake, aka Ina Garten’s Chocolate Cake)
I have a favorite chocolate frosting recipe that I use for everything, and it worked beautifully with this cake. I highly recommend it! I chose not to make the chocolate buttercream included in the recipe from  The Barefoot Contessa because it contains a raw egg and that grossed me out!
best-chocolate-cake-1
1 3/4 cups flour, plus more for dusting cake pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup hot, strong coffee*
Preheat oven to 350Β°F. Butter two 8″ cake pans and dust with flour. If you wish (but I didn’t and it turned out just fine), you can butter each pan, line it with a circle of parchment paper, and then butter and flour the pans. Combine all dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix until combined. In a small bowl, combine buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Pour buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients and beat just until smooth. Add coffee and mix just until incorporated. Divide batter, which will be incredibly runny, evenly between the two pans. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until a toothpick stuck in the center of each cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pans for 10-15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Frost cakes as desired (click HERE for my favorite recipe for chocolate frosting).

*I almost forgot my asterisk! We don’t drink coffee, but adding coffee to chocolate cake deepens the chocolate flavor and really makes it sing, so I don’t like skipping that or adding water instead (blah!). So I use Pero, which is just an instant beverage powder that is made from malted barley and chicory and smells vaguely coffee-esque. It can be found near the teas, coffees, and hot cocoas at the grocery store.

101 thoughts on “The Best Chocolate Cake Ever”

  1. This recipe is very similar to the hersheys recipe black magic cake. Also for the buttermilk add lemon juice to the milk and you have buttermilk

    1. Hi! I’ve never tried this recipe with cupcakes, but usually you bake them at the same temperature (350°F) for 18 minutes. Make sure to check them for doneness (they might need 2-3 more minutes). And generally a cake that makes 2 8″-layers will also make 24 cupcakes. Good luck!!

  2. Hi Lulu, want to bake this in a 9″ by 3″ pan and add a layer of a moist vanilla cake. Pls any advice on the quantity of batter to use and do you have a lovely moist vanilla cake i could use. pls will appreciate your response. I have a birthday coming up next tomorrow and everybody is expecting i bake something delish…

  3. This is the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made. And, it’s the easiest! We actually just made 30 cupcakes and they are perfect. I will make it as a cake fr an upcoming party. But we used Hershey’s cocoa and I feel it wasn’t as flavorful as it could be. What kind of cocoa did you use? I’m so pleased with this recipe that I will go the extra mile to get the best cocoa for the recipe. Thanks!!!!

    1. Update on my cupcakes: after eating these all weekend, I must say they are absolutely perfect and I even plan on using the same Hershey’s chocolate next time!!!! When I first tasted them I admittedly scarfed down a few really hot. They need time to sit, get to room temp, and allow the flavors to deepen. I topped with a light vanilla whipped cream frosting and they are OUT OF THIS WORLD!!! The search is over! This is my chocolate cake recipe for now on! I already have plans to make them again as cupcakes next week and then as a birthday cake this spring. My daughter told me these are the very best cupcakes I’ve ever made (and I bake a lot!) oh and a plus, it’s the easiest cake I’ve ever made too! Thanks Lulu!!!

  4. I just made this cake and i HAD to leave a review! Oh my lawd is it absolutely amazing!!! So moist and delicious. I did do a couple things differently…I used almond milk with vinegar instead of the buttermilk, i made it as 1 cake instead of 2, and i only did 1 1/2 cups sugar. Holy moly it is the best cake ive ever made!! This is for my sons birthday party and i was a little nervous as i have failed with cakes many many times. But this one is a keeper for sure! And the funniest thing?? I HATE CAKE!!!! I never even ate it at my own birthday party…But this….THIS cake i’ll be eating for sure!!!

  5. I made both the chocolate cake (for my daughter’s birthday) and the Carmelitas (just for fun) this past weekend. Both came out great. My son said I’d out done myself πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Jennifer. Hopefully I’m responding to this in time for it to be helpful! I think it would work in a 9×13 pan. Most boxed cake mixes make either a 9×13″ cake or 2 8″ round cakes. Because this recipe is supposed to make 2 8″ round cakes, it should be just the right amount of batter for a 9×13″ cake too. Bake it at the same temperature, for maybe a little longer. I would start checking it at 30 minutes, and check every 5 minutes after that. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

  6. Thanks Lulu. I used a 9×13 pan and baked it for 30 min and used your recipe for the frosting. It was AWESOME!!!! That frosting is to die for πŸ™‚ Will definitely be a ‘go-to’ cake recipe for me. I was so very happy with the way it turned out and so was my family. Super delish!!!

  7. This cake turned out PERFECTLY! I love the consistency of this recipe. The only thing I did differently, is that for chocolate cakes I grease my pans with Crisco and dust heavily with cocoa power instead of flour. Thanks!

    1. Good tip! I have to say, I’m super lazy when it comes to greasing cake pans, and I usually hold my breath when I’m turning the cake out. I’m usually OK, but every once in a great while, disaster srikes, lol!

  8. Not a torte, not a mousse, not a pudding, but a cake which actually tastes of chocolate: fluffy and light enough to eat at tea time, rich enough to serve with a dollop of creme fraiche for dessert.

    1. Hi susberry. I wouldn’t recommend making the whole recipe if you only want one 8.5″ layer. I think there would be too much batter and it would overflow in your oven! You could cut the recipe in half and do one 8.5″ layer, or make the whole recipe two pans and just freeze one for another time.

  9. HELP!
    Just took this delicious smelling cake out of the oven ad realized I forgot the sugar! How can it be salvaged/ fixed? I made a 9×13, and had considered trying the oreo frosting recipe you have. Would anything be sweet enough to counter the missing sugar in the cake? Party tonight πŸ™

    1. That’s the worst! So sorry. I don’t think any frosting will make up for the missing sugar if you serve it as a cake. You could try cutting it into cubes and making a trifle or using it to make cake balls. I don’t think the missing sugar would be as noticeable in either of those. Good Luck!

  10. Hi Lulu,
    I need to bake – probably three 9X13 cakes – and sculpt one into a dolphin for my daughters upcoming birthday party. Can you tell me if this cake lends itself to being frozen if made a few days in advance and sculpted? Thanks so much

    1. So it froze quite well but freezing did take away something….I tasted it before I froze it so I know :-). Also while frozen I could sculpt it, but the moment it got even a little thawed out, it became difficult. I made gray MM fondant to cover this cake (for the dolphin) – so to answer the question below – I found that this cake is a little delicate for fondant. Or maybe my fondant was too thick, I dont know. I’m not a pro by any means . Thanks Lulu. The cake was delicious!

    2. Ronnie, thanks for the update!! I’m not too surprised that it’s not quite as good after being frozen or that it’s a little delicate for fondant. I’ll just have to eat it fresh and covered in buttercream! πŸ˜‰

  11. Hi Melissa! When I found out at the family reunion that you are Lulu the Baker, I knew I was familiar with your blog to an extent, but I couldn’t remember which of your recipes I’d tried before. Then today as I was about to make my go-to chocolate cake for our treat tonight, I realized that I needed to print off a new copy of this recipe. I was pleasantly surprised when I clicked on my absolutely favorite chocolate cake (and I can be picky) that I pinned on Pinterest a while ago and found that it was one of yours! I also use the Pero and find that it works out great. At any rate, I made sure that I subscribed to your blog so that I can keep up what you’re baking!
    Rebecca

  12. LuLu, My Mom (huge chocolate lover) is coming to visit on her birthday in two days. I’d like to make this cake with your suggested frosting but you said the butter makes it harden quickly. Any other frosting suggestions that are good to decorate with?

    1. Hi Nicole! If you make the frosting using the recipe I link to, you should be fine. The frosting I grew up with hardens quickly, but this version is much easier to work with, and very delicious and fudgy! I just made both the cake and the frosting for my son’s 3rd birthday earlier this month and they were fantastic together. Good luck!!

      1. OMG!!!!! This cake was a HUGE hit!!!! Never making chocolate cake any other way! The coffee really hit it off so for for those thinking to skip it, DONT! My Mom LOVED her 60th birthday cake LuLu! I subbed with almond milk in the icing and got scared because the texture was not normal. It had tiny lumps in it but I didn’t have enough time and sucked it up. We ate the cake 3 DAYS later and it was AMAZING! So moist and the icing really complimented the rich cake. Thank you for sharing this recipe that I now must share with my Mom πŸ™‚

  13. All I have are 9″ cake pans. Will these do? How should I adjust cooking times if so? Can’t wait to make this! πŸ™‚

  14. Hello,

    Just wondering if you have any recommendations for making this cake two days ahead. Do you think wrapping tightly and in the fridge would work and maintain it?

    I have made it before twice with frosting and twice with whipped cream and cocoa, it has been a star every time i make it.

    Thanks,

  15. I just baked this with my niece for Thanksgiving. The directions were easy to follow – I can’t wait to see how it turned out!

  16. Hi Lulu!
    I’m planning on using this recipe and your vanilla cake recipe for a super tall layer cake for my sons first birthday party this weekend. Can I use this same recipe for 9″ circle pans? Also, do you use cake flour or all purpose flour? Can I use coconut oil for the oil? THANK YOU!

    1. Hi Cristin! Yes, you can use this chocolate cake recipe with 9″ circle pans. They’ll bake slightly faster, so watch them carefully. I use all-purpose flour (if it doesn’t specify, it always means all-purpose, at least in my recipes!). And I don’t really have any experience baking with coconut oil. Sorry! Good luck—it sounds amazing!

  17. Hi Lulu! I’d like to make the cake as part of a special dinner for two. I have some smaller-diameter pans, about 6ΒΎ x 3ΒΌ or thereabouts. Can you let me know how I could adapt the recipe for a smaller, two-layer cake?

    The cake sounds so wonderful and I’m excited to try it!

    1. Hi Carolyn! One thing you could do is just make the full recipe, fill your pans to about 2/3 or 3/4 full, and use the rest of the batter to make cupcakes! You could alternately make 2/3 of the recipe. Either way, if you want to use smaller pans, you’ll want to check the cakes earlier for doneness, as they’ll bake faster in smaller pans. Good luck!

  18. This recipe (along with the best chocolate frosting) is awesome! I made it for a coworker’s birthday and will be making it again for my mother’s 90th birthday! Super special cake for a super special lady’s milestone birthday!

    1. Hi Linda. You should be able to make this recipe in a 9×13″ pan for a single layer cake without having to double it. The baking time will have to be adjusted, but otherwise it should work just fine. And yes, I would think you could make it ahead and keep it tightly covered at room temperature. Alternately, you could refrigerate it and let it come to room temperature either before frosting or before serving. Best of luck!

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