Chocolate Cake: The best one everrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

At last............... No, I'm not singing Etta James, but at last,  I have found my chocolaty chocolate cake recipe. The one I have been waiting for all this time, I have found THE chocolate recipe, my go to chocolate recipe, the one I know I will make when I have my chocolate cravings, the one I'll dig into to with absolute no restraint. I have been waiting for you all my life and here you are, MY FAVOURITE CHOCOLATE CAKE.

It was my birthday last week....... :) Yayyyyyyy. And now I have to wait a whole year for it to be here again........ Boo  hoo. ......I looove my birthday. With each passing year, I get more excited about my birthday, totally disproportional to the number on the cake, but that's me. I get excited like a little kid in the days running up to my birthday. The smiles are extra wide, the mornings just seem happier and there is no need for that alarm clock to wake up early. Too bad my birthday just passed me by... Sigh...

So it's become a tradition these days at home, that I bake my own birthday cake. My family figured that since I am the baker in the family, I might as well bake my own birthday cake. And honestly I love the idea. Though I went thru 100s of ideas of what I should bake, from elegant scroll work, to damask stenciling, to butter cream flowers, I finally realized that I really really wanted just a super chocolaty chocolate cake. I mentioned to you earlier about my healthy eating plan, and since I've been sticking to it mostly, I just wanted to indulge in some totally decadent cake, because................ it's my birthdayyyyyyyyyy..... And so after I looked up scores of recipes, I finally decided to go with the cocoa buttermilk cake from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours.  This book is a treasure pile of recipes and it is one of the 10 books you'll find in my kitchen library., one of my 10 favourite books.

The recipe is easy to follow. What I love about Dorie Greenspan's recipes is that it reads like she's in the kitchen with you. Every little detail is written in the recipe, whether the mixture will curdle, bubble, splatter, every little step is there in the book, so you know at all times if you'r recipe is on track. So you can blindly follow her recipe, knowing very well that it is tried and tested.

Now in all the excitement of the birthday, answering calls, and jumping around just because it was my birthday, I forgot to click a picture of my cake... I know........ but it was my birthday!!!!!!!!!!! you can forgive me. When I cut the cake and tasted it I knew I wanted to share this recipe with my readers as a birthday special, but then again, forgot to get a picture. Then I ended up parceling a large chunk of the cake for my niece and nephew, coz I knew I'd end up eating all of it by myself otherwise. So when I finally sat down to writing this post the next day, all I had remaining was one massive wedge of the cake, so here you go.

The cake makes quite a large cake, of 2 , 9 inch cakes, though I used 2 , 8 inch cake pans and it turned out just fine and quite a big cake, and you can cut out beautiful chocolate wedges for like 10 -12 people. It's got layers of intense chocolate cake, matched with a great chocolate butter cream frosting.

I started with buttering 2, 8 inch pans and dusting them with flour, and setting my oven to pre heat at 175 C. Also, as the recipe suggests, I cut out a round of baking paper to line the bottom of the pans. No worrying about lifting that cake out now.

Then quickly I got all my ingredients ready. Flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, buttermilk. The recipe also suggests optionally using melted chocolate, so I skipped that bit. I used super fine sugar for this cake. You could use castor sugar as well. Also since it's difficult( read as impossible) to get plain buttermilk in any store, I used this little tip I read sometime ago. To make plain milk into buttermilk, all you need to do is add some vinegar to plain milk, mix it and let it stand for about 10-15 mins, about 1 tbsp for every 1 cup of milk. So when I have a recipe that needs buttermilk, I first start with making the buttermilk, so I can give it enough time to curdle while I get the other ingredients ready and prep the cake pans.

Then to make life easier, you can just whisk all the dry ingredients. Yes, I prefer this to sifting flour and baking powder into a bowl, only to have my kitchen dusted in flour. So in a bowl, I whisked together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and an inkling of salt.

Then in a separate bowl, the usual butter and sugar creaming together bit. Then the eggs. The recipe uses 2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks, so quite rich I know, but I had set my heart on this recipe and I didn't want 2 extra yolks stand in the way. Then the vanilla, buttermilk and dry ingredients. That's batter ready. I divided the mixture between the 2 pans and then it was baking time. The batter was quite thick, so I used a knife to spread and flatten it out in the cake pan. About 30 mins later I had the cakes ready.

As the cakes cooled, I took them out of the pan and let them cool on a board, while I got to making the frosting. The recipe was for a chocolate malt buttercream, I skipped the malt bit of it. I'm generally not a fan of buttercream frosting , I prefer fresh cream icing, but this chocolate buttercream was yummmmmmm. Did I mention, it had melted chocolate in it, maybe that's why...  I skipped the malted milk powder mentioned in the recipe and also reduced the amount of butter and sugar.
I let the cakes cool completely, before I frosted them. To layer them and get an even top, using a serrated knife I cut the dome that had formed on top of the cake. I also sliced one cake into two layers and sandwiched them with a generous amount of frosting. I used the remaining frosting on the top and sides of the cakes. I just spread it around in a rustic sort of way and it was perfect for me. No fussing over clean edges and even icing on the sides.

I made the cake a day in advance and let it sit in the fridge overnight, but brought it to room temperature before cutting it and serving. Do not serve the cake straight from the fridge, the soft and creamy layers of the cake are best tasted at room temperature. So make your cake a day in advance, refrigerate it, and keep it out of the fridge for an hour or before you serve it.

Here's the recipe:

Cocoa Buttermilk Birthday Cake

Adapted from Baking: Dorie Greenspan

For the cake:
2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

226 gms butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

For the frosting :
150 gms chocolate
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp boiling water
175 gms butter
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 to 2 cups icing sugar.

1. Butter  2, 8 inch pans and dust with flour. Line the bottom of the pans with a round of baking paper.
2. Pre heat the oven to 175 C
3.Whisk the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
4. In a separate bowl, beat the sugar and butter till creamy.
5. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the yolks, one by one, beating for 1 minute after each addition.
6, Beat in the vanilla.
7.Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
8. Divide the batter between the cake pans and bake for about 30 minutes, till the cakes start to pull away from the sides of the pan.
9. Let the cake cool for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and invert them onto a board and let them cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting:
1.Mix the cocoa powder and boiling water
2.Melt the chocolate with half the brown sugar in a bowl, set over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from heat.
3. Whisking the melted chocolate mixture, gradually pour in the hot cocoa mixture till it blends
4.In a large bowl, whisk the butter till soft, add the remaining brown sugar and beat for 2-3 minutes
5.Beat in the vanilla extract and then the chocolate mixture.
6. Gradually add the icing sugar, enough to make it as sweet as you like.

To assemble the cake:

Sandwich the cakes with the frosting and use the remaining frosting to cover the sides and top of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for at least one hour to set the frosting . Bring the cake to room temperature before serving.


  1. Maybe too complicated for me just yet

  2. De... Little extra effort but great results.... Give it a try... :)

  3. Ok I want to try this out, without the frosting though. Will it still turn out ok?

  4. I made this for Kyle 's 2nd birthday. And it just awesome. I skipped the frosting & did a simple chocolate ganache... It was so good!

  5. Hi Rona,

    I would like to know which chocolate you used for frosting.

    1. Hi Ceelia,
      I used regular milk chocolate to make the frosting. Regular chocolate and brown sugar make a great combination. Hope this helps. When you do try this recipe, click photos of your cake and email them to me or send to me on my Facebook page. Thank you.
      Happy Baking


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