Home · Recipes · Layer Cakes · Cakes · Layer Cakes · Classic Chocolate Cake Classic Chocolate Cake Author: Maryanne CabreraPublished: Feb 19, 2020Updated: Apr 28, 2023 View Recipe3 ReviewsThis post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy. This classic chocolate cake recipe makes a two layer 8-inch cake or a three layer 6-inch cake. It is frosted with a simple chocolate American buttercream and decorated with rainbow sprinkles. It’s hard to beat a classic! This post is the first in a series of basic cake recipes and tutorials. More classic cake recipes to follow include: yellow cake, white cake, and sponge cake (aka gateau genoise). We’re starting with my favorite go-to classic chocolate cake recipe! Easy Chocolate Layer Cake with American Buttercream No matter what the occasion or season, it’s always a good time for chocolate cake! This easy to make chocolate cake is perfect for novice bakers. It’s a fool-proof cake that anyone can successfully make. The cake batter can be mixed together by hand, using an electric hand mixer, or a traditional stand mixer. It’s a rich cake with intense chocolate flavors. It’s not overly sweet, and perfect with a glass of milk or an ice coffee! Cake Ingredients For best results, measure dry ingredients by weight using a kitchen scale. Measuring by weight ensures consistent results. However, if you prefer volume measurements (such as cups), please measure flour using the stir and spoon method. This chocolate cake is made with standard all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, and large eggs. In addition, you will need: Cocoa Powder: There are several choices of unsweetened cocoa powder to choose from: natural cocoa, Dutch-processed cocoa, or black cocoa. For this recipe, I used natural cocoa powder from King Arthur Flour Espresso Powder: Espresso powder is the not-so-secret ingredient that helps to intensify chocolate flavored desserts. Optional, but HIGHLY recommended. Oil: Choose a neutral flavored oil such as grapeseed oil, avocado oil, or vegetable oil. Oil will ensure the cake is soft and moist. Melted butter may be used, but the resulting cake will not stay as moist as oil. Vanilla Extract: Always use high quality pure vanilla extract. None of that imitation vanilla, unless the recipe specifically calls for it, like in these Birthday Cake Madeleines. Whole Milk: Low fat or reduced fat milk may be used in place of whole milk. Use canned evaporated for a sweeter alternative. Sour Cream: The fat from sour cream aids in flavor development. It also helps to keep the cake moist. Alternative options include full-fat Greek yogurt or creme fraiche. Easy Chocolate American Buttercream American buttercream is a simple mixture consisting of softened butter and powdered sugar (also known as confectioners’ sugar). It is often flavored with vanilla. This chocolate buttercream recipe is naturally colored and flavored with unsweetened cocoa powder. For a richer version, you may use melted unsweetened chocolate. Add tablespoons of milk as needed to the buttercream to achieve the perfect spreadable consistently. American buttercream is sweet and thick. Try Chocolate Swiss Buttercream for a less sweet and more airy buttercream. Recipe Variations This classic chocolate cake uses standard chocolate American buttercream. Swap out the frosting for a totally different experience! Make this Caramel Fig Chocolate Cake during peak fig season. This Espresso Chocolate Cake can be enjoyed year round and it’s the perfect celebration cake for coffee and espresso lovers. Use this chocolate cake recipe to make this Chocolate Spider Web Cake for Halloween or anytime you’re feeling spooky! Step-by-Step Cake Assembly Instructions This chocolate cake recipe makes either three 6-inch cake rounds or two 8-inch cake rounds. Step 1: If necessary, level cake layers using a long serrated knife. Otherwise, this cake recipe bakes up fairly flat and even surface. Step 2: Place one cake layer on cake stand or serving plate. Step 3: Spread buttercream into an even layer. Use about 1.25 cup buttercream for 8-inch size cake. Use about 0.75 cup for 6-inch cake. Step 4: Stack next cake layer on top. Repeat adding layer of buttercream if making a three layered 6-inch cake. Step 5: Spread a thin layer of buttercream all over cake to seal in crumbs (crumb coat). Chill for 15 minutes. Step 6: Add a second, thicker layer of buttercream all over the cake. Simple Cake Decor Option: Fit a piping bag with a medium or large star tip. Fill piping bag with any remaining buttercream. Pipe little dollops of stars along the perimeter of cake top. Decorate with sprinkles as desired. Expert Tips Cake is easier to slice when cold. This will result in cleaner slices. Allow cake slices to sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before serving to allow cake and buttercream to soften. Recipe FAQs How to store cake leftovers? Store assembled frosted cake in the fridge for up to 24 hours before serving. Use an airtight container to store sliced cake in the fridge for up to 3 days. It is important to use an airtight container because the buttercream will absorb the smells and flavors of your fridge. Use a small piece of wax paper or parchment paper to cover exposed cake slice to prevent cake layers from drying out. How far in advance can I make chocolate cake before serving it? Cake layers can be baked up to a month in advance. Cool to room temperature. Then, tightly wrap in plastic wrap. Freeze for up a month. Defrost at room temperature.Cake may be assembled up to two days in advance. Store in the fridge until ready to serve. Can I substitute cocoa powder with melted chocolate? This classic chocolate cake recipe works best with cocoa powder. Use this death by chocolate cake recipe if you prefer to use melted unsweetened chocolate bars. More Chocolate Cake Recipes Red Wine Chocolate Cake Chocolate Hazelnut Cake Chocolate Butter Mochi Cake Classic Chocolate Cake 5 from 2 votes Classic Chocolate Cake with simple chocolate American buttercream. Yield: two 8-inch cake layers or three 6-inch cake layers Prep Time: 20 minutes minutesCook Time: 30 minutes minutesAssembly: 30 minutes minutesTotal Time: 1 hour hour 20 minutes minutes Servings: 10 slices Print Recipe Pin Recipe Rate Recipe IngredientsChocolate Cake:▢ 2 cup all-purpose flour (260 g)▢ ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (40 g) *▢ ½ Tablespoon instant espresso powder▢ 1 teaspoon baking powder▢ 1 teaspoon baking soda▢ 1 teaspoon kosher salt▢ ½ cup grape seed oil or vegetable oil▢ 1 ¼ cup granulated sugar (250 g)▢ 2 large eggs room temp▢ 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla paste▢ ⅔ cup whole milk (150 g)room temp▢ 1 cup sour cream (240 g) room tempChocolate American Buttercream:▢ 2 cup unsalted butter (450 g) softened, room temp▢ 6 cup confections sugar (680 g)▢ 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (80 g) ▢ ½ teaspoon kosher salt▢ 8 Tablespoon whole milk Instructions Chocolate Cake:Preheat oven to 350°F. Line three 6-inch cake rounds or two 8-inch cake rounds with parchment paper. Lightly grease and set aside.In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or using an electric hand mixer), beat together oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until well combined.On low speed, alternate adding dry flour mixture and milk. Add about 1/3 of flour mixture. Mix on low speed until almost incorporated. Follow with 1/2 of milk. Mix on low speed. Repeat adding another 1/3 of flour and then remaining 1/2 of milk. Scrape down bowl as needed to ensure thorough mixing. Add sour cream and remaining 1/3 of flour. Mix on low speed until there are no longer any streaks of dry flour.Divide batter among prepared cake pans. Level batter. Bake for 25-28 minutes until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Rotate cakes midway through baking to ensure even cooking.Allow cake to cool in pan for 5 minutes. Run mini offset spatula around perimeter of cake to loosen from pan. Unmold cake. Let cake layers cool to room temperature on wire rack.Chocolate Buttercream:In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or using an electric hand mixer), cream butter until smooth. Add confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and milk. Mix until buttercream is smooth.Assembly:Level cooled cake layers, if desired. Place one cake layer on cake stand or serving place. For 8-inch cake: spread about 1 ¼ cup chocolate buttercream over cake. (see notes for 6-inch cake). Place second cake layer on top. Spread another 1 ¼ cup buttercream on top. Spread a thin layer of buttercream around the sides of cake to seal in the crumbs (crumb coat). Place in the fridge and allow to chill for 15-30 minutes to set buttercream.Coat cake with final thicker layer of buttercream. Fit a piping bag with a medium or large star tip. Fill bag with any remaining buttercream. Decorate the top of cake with piped star boarder. Garnish with sprinkles as desired. Store cake in the fridge until ready to serve. NotesIngredient Notes: I used natural cocoa powder from King Arthur Flour. I also recommend the unsweetened cocoa powder from Trader Joe’s. Other cocoa powder options includes: Dutch-processed cocoa or black cocoa. These will produce slightly different results. Instant espresso powder highlights and intensifies the chocolate flavor. You may omit if you cannot find this ingredient. Canola oil, vegetable oil, or melted coconut oil can be used in place of grapeseed oil. Melted butter can also be used, but will result in a less moist cake. Assembly Notes: For 6-inch cake: use about 3/4 cup buttercream for layers. NutritionCalories: 998kcal | Carbohydrates: 126g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 56g | Saturated Fat: 29g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 152mg | Sodium: 543mg | Potassium: 330mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 98g | Vitamin A: 1378IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 120mg | Iron: 3mg Author: Maryanne Cabrera Course: DessertCuisine: American Did you make this recipe?Show us on Instagram! Tag @littleepicurean and hashtag #littleepicurean.