Learn how to make chocolate cake with this easy recipe that can be used for chocolate cupcakes, chocolate sheet cake, or a chocolate layer cake! This recipe results in a moist, fluffy, and intensely chocolate cake.
Classic Chocolate Cake Overview
- Skill Level: Beginner
- Techniques Used: Blending Method for Cakes
I love having classic recipes in my back pocket that can be used for all kinds of occasions. This is my favorite chocolate cake recipe. It results in a cake that is moist, fluffy, and intensely chocolate in flavor.
What I also love about this cake is that it is so incredibly easy to make. You can mix the cake and have it in the oven in less than 15 minutes! I use this basic chocolate cake for sheet cakes, layer cakes, and cupcakes!
How do I make a Moist Chocolate Cake?
This chocolate cake is incredibly moist and that is due to the oil in the batter. Oil does not solidify at room temperature the way butter does, which results in a very moist chocolate cake.
The other important thing to keep in mind to ensure you do not end up with dry cake, is to not over-mix your batter. You want to mix just until the batter comes together and there are no lumps of dry ingredients. If you mix for a long period of time the gluten will overdevelop, resulting in a tough and dry cake.
Why do you Add Coffee to Your Chocolate Cake?
I like to add hot coffee to my chocolate cake for two reasons. The first reason is that hot liquid blooms the cocoa powder, which gives it more depth of flavor.
The second reason I add coffee to my chocolate cake is that it intensifies the chocolate flavor. Your cake will not taste like coffee, rather it will have more richly chocolate. However, you can substitute the hot coffee with very hot water if you prefer.
How to Make Chocolate Cake
To make this basic chocolate cake we will be using the blending method. This is the easiest mixing method for cakes and only requires a few steps.
Step 1: Prep
Always measure out all of your ingredients before you start baking and preheat your oven. You can also prep your pans. This cake can be made into a sheet cake, a 2-layer cake, or cupcakes.
Step 2: Mix Dry Ingredients
In a large mixing bowl, mix together all of your dry ingredients until well combined.
Step 3: Mix Together Wet Ingredients
In a separate mixing bowl mix together all of the wet ingredients except for the hot coffee or hot water. Mix together until well combined.
Step 4: Mix the Cake Batter
Mix together the wet ingredients (minus the coffee) with the dry ingredients. As soon as the two are starting to come together, slowly pour in the hot liquid while continuing the mix.
Mix just until the ingredients are completely incorporated. You don’t want to over-mix the batter or your cake will be dry.
Step 5: Bake the Cake
The batter will be very liquidy, but don’t worry it will bake into a beautiful chocolate cake! Pour the batter into your prepared pans and bake.
To check if the cake is done, gently press in on the center. It should feel firm but bounce back when pressed in on.
Step 6: Cool and Frost
Transfer the cake to a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting. I love to use my classic chocolate buttercream frosting to frost this cake.
- 2 cups (240 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (105 grams) natural cocoa powder (*see note for using dutch processed)
- 2 1/4 cup (445 gr) granulated sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 TBSP (15 ml) vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup (158 ml) milk, room temperature (preferable whole milk but any milk will work)
- 3/4 cup (178 ml) vegetable oil (or another neutral flavored oil like canola or avocado oil)
- 1 1/2 cup (355 ml) very hot coffee (or very hot water)
- PREP: Preheat the oven to 350 F (177 C). Prepare your baking pan. This recipe will make 1- 9x13" (22 x 33 cm) sheet cake, 2- 9" or 8" (22 or 20 cm) round layer cakes, or about 24 cupcakes. If making a sheet cake or layer cakes, butter the tin well and then line with parchment paper if desired. Parchment is optional but will help the cake release more easily. If making cupcakes, line the tin with cupcake liners.
- MIX DRY INGREDIENTS: In a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well combined.
- MIX WET INGREDIENTS: In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla extract, milk, and vegetable oil. Do not mix in the hot coffee or water at this point, leave it on the side.
- FINISH MIXING BATTER: Pour the wet ingredients (minus the coffee or hot water) into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Use a hand mixer or the paddle attachment on the stand mixer to start mixing the ingredients on medium/low speed. Gradually pour in the hot coffee or hot water while the mixer is running. The heat from the liquid will bloom the cocoa powder and make it taste more chocolatey. The cake will not taste like coffee.
- BAKE: Pour the batter into your prepared pan. Bake at 350 F (177 C). A sheet cake will take about 35-45 minutes. Layer cakes will take 25-30 minutes, and cupcakes will take 18-25 minutes. Pull the cake out of the oven when it is firm but springs back when gently pressed in on the center.
- COOL: Cool the cakes completely on a cooling rack before frosting. I love pairing this cake with my simple chocolate buttercream frosting or my whipped chocolate ganache.
- STORE: Store the cake covered in foil or plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days.
If you do not have natural cocoa powder, you can use dutch processed cocoa powder but omit the baking soda and increase the baking powder to 1 TBSP.