Chocolate Layer Cake Recipe

Photo of my nutella chocolate cake, made with my go-to chocolate layer cake recipe

When I think about chocolate cake, I want the cake layers to be moist. I want them to be packed with chocolatey flavor, and to have a soft texture.

The baker in me also wants the cake layers to have structure, so that they don’t fall apart as you try to frost them.

I also wanted a chocolate cake recipe that could be carved for sculpted cakes!

The Perfect Chocolate Layer Cake Recipe

That’s how this recipe came to be. I had been playing around with different chocolate cake recipes for years, and they all were delicious. 

Each recipe had some of these attributes, but none of them had it all.

Was it greedy to demand so many things from one chocolate cake recipe?? No. We deserve it!

If we’re going to take the time to make a cake recipe from scratch, we deserve to have cake layers that are moist and keep their shape (as seen below).

IMG_2404 (2)

My First Chocolate Cake Recipe

Speaking of my past chocolate cake recipes, I’m not saying they’re not great in their own way. The first chocolate cake recipe I really fell for was my moist chocolate cake recipe.

It is incredibly soft and fluffy, and  I love the way it tastes!! It’s a great recipe for beginning bakers, and is really easy to make.

My moist chocolate cake recipe actually can be made in one bowl, AND can be made without a hand mixer!! Talk about the perfect starter recipe, right?

Photo Of Baileys Chocolate Cake

The only downside is that it isn’t the easiest to stack and frost with perfectly smooth sides!

When I was first getting into baking, taste was my #1 priority, so this didn’t bother me much.

My Chocolate Butter Cake Recipe

As I became more interested in cake decoration, I was obsessed with frosting cakes with smooth sides.

It was so much easier to frost cake layers that had a bit more structure, like my favorite vanilla layer cake recipe.

I fell in love with the strength of the layers, and how well they help up while being frosted.

I altered the recipe to a make a chocolate version, and used this as my chocolate layer cake recipe for a while.

photo of chocolate layer cake recipe

The only downside is that I like to trim my layers to remove the caramelization on the sides.

This means an extra step in the process, and I wasn’t completely satisfied with the texture of the layers.

Classic Chocolate Sponge Cake Recipe

This lead me to continue to try out new chocolate cake recipes, and experiment. I really loved using Yolanda Gampp’s chocolate sponge cake recipe, but didn’t like that they baked with such huge domes!

Photo of chocolate sponge cake recipe

I felt like i was cutting off 2/3 of each layer when I leveled them. However, the layers tasted great with simple syrup, and had great structure.

My Favorite Chocolate Layer Cake Recipe

I used Yolanda’s recipe as the starting point, then combined my favorite elements from all my past chocolate cake recipes.

The other element I really wanted to change was the size of the domes on top of each cake layer.

While creating this recipe, I chose to use black cocoa instead of regular baking cocoa. I love the taste and color it creates!! 

You can see what a beautiful color the black cocoa adds to the cake layers by looking at this slice of my raspberry chocolate cake.


I also swapped some of the water for buttermilk to add more moisture, and used less baking soda.

The result?? A soft, tender chocolate cake that doesn’t need simple syrup, and that holds its shape well while being frosted and stacked. 

I’m obsessed with this recipe, and hope you all will be too!

If you don’t have access to black cocoa or don’t want to buy it, you can also use regular baking cocoa in this recipe! That’s exactly what I did in my triple chocolate wrap cake below, and it was delicious. 

Photo of Chocolate Wrapped Cake With Chocolate Covered Strawberries

You can add a splash of simple syrup if you love using it, or think that the cake layers will be exposed to air for long period of time.

I highly recommend adding simple syrup if you’re making a carved cake or a wedding cake!

Tips for Making This Chocolate Layer Cake:

  • Chill your cake layers in the freezer for about 20 minutes before assembling the cake, to make it easier to stack and frost.
  • Mix your cake batter just until the ingredients are incorporated; this will ensure your cake layers are tender and fluffy
  • Be sure to properly measure your flour (spoon into the cup measure then level) or use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients
  • Use a serrated knife to level your cake layers once they’re fully cooled, to make it easier to assemble and frost your cake
  • I do NOT recommend using this recipe to make cupcakes! Instead, I highly recommend trying my chocolate cupcake recipe (I like the texture better for cupcakes)
  • Use my small batch chocolate cake recipe to a 6-inch layer cake

Making These Cake Layers in Advance and Storage Tips:

  • Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them: It breaks the process up and make it more approachable.
  • Make your frosting ahead of time too, or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.
  • A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. The buttercream locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious!
  • If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section to keep it moist and store in the fridge for up to a week.
image of chocolate blackout cake, sliced into to show moist chocolate cake layers with pudding and ganache filling

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you try this chocolate layer cake recipe, please tag me @chelsweets, and use the #chelsweets, so I can see your beautiful creations!!

Other Recipes You Might Like:

Yield: 24

Chocolate Layer Cake

Photo of my nutella chocolate cake, made with my go-to chocolate layer cake recipe

This is my go-to chocolate layer cake recipe! It makes soft, tender, chocolaty cake layers that can handle a splash of simple syrup, and still hold up while being frosted.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes


Chocolate Cake Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar (500 grams)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp (2 sticks, 226 grams)
  • 4 large eggs, room temp (224 grams)
  • 1 tsp baking soda (6 grams)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder (6 grams)
  • 1 tsp salt (6 grams)
  • 1 cup hot water (237 grams)
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temp (240 grams)
  • 1 cup black cocoa (100 grams)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (390 grams)

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting


Chocolate Cake Layers

  1. Begin by preheating the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line four seven-inch or three 8-inch pans with parchment rounds and spray with non-stick baking spray.
  3. Add 2 1/2 cups sugar and 1 cup butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. Cream together on a high speed for 1-2 minutes with a whisk attachment or hand mixer. The mixture should become light in color.
  4. Mix in 4 large eggs on a medium speed, two at a time.
  5. Add 1 tsp baking soda, 1 1/2 baking powder, and 1 tsp salt. Mix on high for another minute.
  6. In a separate bowl, combine 1 cup of hot water, and 1 cup of buttermilk. Pour in 1 cup of black cocoa and whisk until no clumps remain.
  7. Next, add 1 cup of flour into the butter/egg mixture. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula, to ensure the flour is fully incorporated.
  8. Pour in half of the buttermilk/cocoa mixture and gently pulse the mixture to incorporate the liquid (if you don't, you'll end up splattering the cocoa mixture all over you kitchen!)
  9. Mix in the 2nd cup of flour, at a low speed. Pour in the remaining buttermilk/cocoa mixture, and again gently pulse, then mix on low until fully combined.
  10. Add in the last cup of flour, and mix on low until the flour is incorporated.
  11. Evenly divide between the prepared pans. I like to use a kitchen scale to ensure each pan has exactly the same amount of batter.
  12. Bake for 32-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  13. Allow layers to cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around the edge of the pans to help separate the layers from the pans.
  14. Place the pans in the freezer for about 45 minutes, to accelerate the cooling process. Once the layers are fully cooled, carefully flip the pans and remove the layers from the pans.
  15. Use a serrated knife to level the tops of the layers, and then frost as desired.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  1. While the cake layers bake and cool, make the chocolate buttercream frosting.
  2. Beat 2 cups of butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment or hand mixer, until smooth. 
  3. Add in 1 cup of sifted cocoa and 1/2 tsp of salt. Mix on low until the cocoa is fully incorporated, and no clumps remain.
  4. Slowly add in 6 cups of powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Half way through adding the powdered sugar, pour in 1/2 cup of heavy cream or milk to make it easier to mix the frosting.
  5. Once all the powdered sugar is incorporated, mix in 1 1/3 cups cooled, melted chocolate chips.
  6. Beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached.
  7. If the frosting is too thick, add an extra Tbsp of heavy cream. If it's too thin, add in another 1/2 cup of powdered sugar.
  8. Stir by hand with a rubber spatula for a couple minutes to get the frosting SUPER smooth.

To Assemble The Cake:

  1. Stack and frost cake layers on a greaseproof cake board, using a dab of frosting to help stick the first cake layer to the board.
  2. Add an even layer of chocolate buttercream between each cake layer with a large offset spatula.
  3. Spread a thin coat of frosting around the the cake, to fully cover the cake layers.
  4. Smooth using a bench scraper, then chill the cake in the fridge (20 minutes) or freezer (10 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch.
  5. Add a second, thicker layer of frosting to the cake, and smooth using a bench scraper. Then decorate as desired!


Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them: It breaks the process up and make it more approachable.

Make your frosting ahead of time too, or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.

A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. The buttercream locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious!

If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section to keep it moist and store in the fridge for up to a week.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 450Total Fat 16gSaturated Fat 9gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 5gCholesterol 61mgSodium 274mgCarbohydrates 73gFiber 3gSugar 54gProtein 5g

247 thoughts on “Chocolate Layer Cake Recipe

    1. Best chocolate cake recipe ever i have been trying lots and this is the best one I have ever used thank you so much for creating it x

  1. Hi, I just made your “new” go to chocolate cake. I do have to say, with your go to vanilla and chocolate cake recipe I loved the one bowel method. I was wondering why you add the baking powders to the butter/ egg mixture rather then the flour?

    1. it’s easier to add them straight into the bowl of my stand mixer! I add the flour straight of the bag using a measuring cup, so to me it’s just easier that way!

  2. Hi Chelsweets! Would I be able to use dark hershey’s cocoa powder or normal hershey’s cocoa in place of the black cocoa?

  3. Hi Chelsea,
    I dont have black cocoa so i was wondering if regular unsweetened cocoa powder would work as a substitute? Also what is the difference between this chocolate cake recipe and your moist chocolate cake recipe? Besides the ingredients ?

    1. yes, it will! This recipe has slightly more structure, and is easier to stack to make layered cakes! It also can absorb simple syrup more easily. The moist cake is so soft it can’t handle simple syrup well!

  4. Hi Chelsea,
    I’ve been looking for a good chocolate cake with structure ! And since i LOVE your best chocolate cupcake recipe, i will definetly try this one ! I was wondering, no coffee in the hot water ? Have you tried with and without it ?
    Thank you 🙂

    1. I have, and i add it depending on the frosting / filling I pair with it! The black cocoa I use has so much flavor though, it doesn’t realllly need it! But I do add a bit of coffee if it’s a chocolate chocolate cake, since I do love the hint of coffee in an all chocolate cake!

  5. Hello!! I have made Yo’s recipe twice today and both ended up falling in the center 🙁 I’m concerned It was tooo moist both times… So I hope to make yours tomorrow, espically because you add more flour. I have two 8” circle pans that are 4” deep Could I half this batter to each of them and cook 2 thick cakes then slice/level them in half? I plan to have 8 layers for a cake I’m making. Can I just adjust the baking time and bake them longer? Or will trying to make them so tall possibly be why the others fell? Thank you!! Also, I love watching your channel and congratulations on your engagement and soon to be wedding!

    1. it should end up being firm, it sounds like you may be under baking them if they’re sinking in the middle! You can make them in taller pans, but they’ll need to bake for much longer!

  6. Hi! Just wondering, how much batter would I have to make if I wanted to use 10″ circle pans, but still wanted it to be as tall as the cake you made here?

  7. I made this cake today and as I was putting it in the oven I realized I forgot to add salt!! ? Stuff happens. It’s still not bad. But I bet it’d be great if I didn’t screw it up.

    1. Hi sorn! I’m not sure I understand your question, you want a coffee chocolate cake recipe? like a chocolate cake made with coffee? my moist chocolate cake recipe uses coffee, and I recommend trying it if that’s what you’re after 🙂

  8. What is the black cocoa powder you use? I’m so excited to try this cake this weekend! I have used your vanilla cake and cupcake recipes and they are incredible! Thank you!

      1. This will forever be my go to chocolate. Cake recipe! It has turned out beautifully several times! Thanks you so much!!!

  9. Really loving your cakes! The recipes are trusted go-tos now. I made this and your white chocolate layer cake for my cousin’s 21st, alternating layers of each flavour and topping with white or milk chocolate ganache within a dam of vanilla smbc. I iced the cake with the vanilla smbc and then dripped coloured white chocolate ganache. I’ve never received so many compliments on a cake, everyone said they’ve had a lot of cakes and this was the best they’d ever had!
    Thank you for your wonderful recipes!!

  10. If I only have two 8 inch pans can I bake two at a time and leave the batter sitting or should I get two more pans? Thanks! The cake looks great

  11. Hi Chelsey. You should add grams to this so it’s easier for people to divide the batter into smaller batches 🙂

  12. Hi! I’m looking to make this recipe in 6in pans. Would you recommend on halving the recipe?

    And in general, how would you advise on altering pan sizes on recipes?

    1. that’s exactly what I would recommend! I actually have a small batch recipe (which is just a half recipe), which I just added to this post to make it easier to make! I like to use it to make 3, 6 inch cake layers 🙂 They bake in 25-28 minutes.

      1. I can’t seem to find the small batch recipe for the chocolate cake on this post. Is it somewhere else? I am looking to make 3 -6 inch cakes. Thanks in advance. Love all your cakes!

      2. Sadly in the process of switching over my recipe cards to a new plugin they were lost :/ I’m hoping to have them back up soon!! Stay tuned!!

  13. Hi, I followed your instructions but used Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa and added instant coffee and vanilla. I used two 8 inch pans and baked approximately 10 min. longer…just kept checking until the tester came out clean. Once cooled I was able to easily divide each layer in half. Great structure and taste. Will consider using a flavored simple syrup with the cherry buttercream I plan to use between the layers. Next time I will try with the black cocoa, which I didn’t have enough of. I always add vanilla to chocolate….it just adds another level of flavor. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe! ?

    1. so happy to hear that!!! And happy you feel the same way about this recipe that I do!! 🙂 Thank you for sharing your feedback!

    1. this recipe makes two layers that size, that are about 1 inch tall!I usually stack the two layers on top of each other when I make a sheet cake <3

  14. Just want to confirm that this recipe is good for a tiered cake? I am making a 3 tier cake and the bottom tier is chocolate cake. Will this recipe hold up well as the bottom tier? Dowels will be used for support. I’ve made this recipe before without putting a simple syrup on it. Do you recommend using some?

    1. Yes, it works great as a tiered cake, as long as it’s supported properly! I usually don’t use simple syrup, but it’s really a matter of preference / how long the cake will be out as you assemble it. If you think it’ll dry out as you it you can, but usually it isn’t necessary 🙂

  15. Hi Chelsea,

    Do you think it would work ok to make 3x 9in layers of good height with this recipe?

    Thanks heaps for all the amazing tutorials!!

    1. they would be pretty thin!! I’d recommend only using one batch of batter to make 2 9 inch cake layers, or making a 1.5 batch!

      1. Rebecca I literally just made 3 9 inch layers… 1.5 batches of this recipe was perfect! Definitely not getting 3 layers with a single batch.

      2. thank you for sharing Wendy 🙂 and happy to hear that 1.5 batches works great for 3 9 inch pans!!!

  16. thank you so much for your recipes! I don’t see where you add the simple syrup? or is that optional? I was thinking of using this chocolate cake recipe and use the nutella buttercream fillings….will this recipe be enough for four 7 inch pans?

    1. it’s option! Sometimes I add it if I’m carving a cake and the layers will be exposed to air for a long time, but normally I don’t add any to it! This recipe will make 4, 1 inch layers using 7 inch pans 🙂

  17. Wow! Thank you so much! I’ve just made the small batch, divided the batter into two 6 inch pan.
    I kept ‘trimming’ just to eat that cake! Just couldn’t wait! Thank you so much for the recipes.
    Finally! The search for a perfect chocolate cake ended.

  18. Wow, I just tried dis now and it came out perfect. I baked mine in a 2inch high 8inch pan. Tanks for dis recipe. But if I might ask y does most of ur recipes uses buttermilk

    1. aw i’m so happy to hear that!! i love that flavor and moisture buttermilk adds to a cake! but you can always use whole milk in place of it if you want <3

  19. Hello! I have made many cakes using your recipes. They are, hands down, the best cake recipes I’ve come across. They are always crowd pleasers and they never fail! I’m interested in making one of your chocolate cake recipes, but I’m having trouble choosing between the recipes. I’ve come across 3 of your chocolate cake recipes: “Go to Chocolate Layer Cake” “The Best Chocolate Layer Cake Recipe” “Moist Chocolate Cake Recipe.” I’m curious to know the difference in taste. Flavor is more important to me than a nice structure. In your opinion, which has the best chocolate flavor?

    1. Happy to hear you’ve been putting my recipes to good use! Part of having the best chocolate flavor will depend on the type of cocoa you use, but I personally love my go-to layer cake recipe with black cocoa. The moist chocolate cake is also great, but my friends have told me they prefer my go-to chocolate cake recipe over the moist chocolate cake recipe 🙂

  20. Hello! I really want to make a 6 inch cake with 4 layers. Should I half the original recipe or use 3/4 of it? Thank you!

  21. I made your Moist Chocolate Cake recipe. Loved the flavor but it was lighter than I prefer. I really like a denser, moist cake. Would you say that this recipe would achieve that?

      1. Hi. I have tonight and tomorrow night to come up with a 21st cake for my daughter. I would like to try you go to choc cake and want to use the Wilton set of 4. 8inch by 0.75 inch high . do you think it would work and how long should I bake for? Also would I halve the recipe or use the whole recipe?

      2. Hi Denise! I’m so sorry for the delayed response on this! If the cake pans are less than an inch high, i’d be worried the cake layers might overflow as they rise up while they bake!! if I use that recipe to make 4, 8-inch cake layers, I usually bake them for 32-34 minutes <3 If you want to make four eight inch cake layers, you definitely need one whole batch of batter!

      1. Hi Chelsea, can i keep this cake in the freezer for a few days before i frost it?
        Thanks for your reply!

        Best regards, Gabriela

  22. Silly question, Is there a specific reason you say to use 4 7inch rounds or 3 8 inch rounds? Can I divide the batter between 4 8 inch rounds or does this make the layers to thin?

    Thank You

    1. You can definitely make 4, 8-inch layers, but they will definitely be thin, and bake more quickly! I just like slightly thicker layers, with a generous layer of frosting between them 🙂 But you can always adjust my recipe to fit your preferences!!

  23. Hi, I’m wanting to make this for my nephew’s birthday this weekend. I’ve got an 11×15 pan and I was wondering if this would be enough and what the temp and bake time would be for it? Thank you in advance! Love your work! ??

    1. I usually use one batch of batter to make 2 9x13inch sheet cakes, so I think you can make one 11×15 inch sheet layer! It will be thick, so i’d recommend using at least 2 flower nails in the pans to help the layer bake more evenly and quickly. I’d guess it will take 40-55 minutes to bake, but I’m really not sure since I’ve never used that size of pan before. So sorry I don’t have a better answer for you!

  24. I have made this cake twice in the last two weeks! Wow! So amazing! So now I have someone asking if I could make it in a 9×13 2 layers. I figure it would be enough for that but dont know if the temp would be the same and what you would recommend as baking time. Please let me know and thank you for the amazing recipe!

    1. I’m so happy to hear that!! one batch of batter should be enough to make two 9×13 inch sheet layers! I’d recommend using two flower nails in each pan, to help them bake more evenly and quickly! The temp can stay the same, and should bake up in a similar time ( as long as you use flower nails!) 🙂 If not, it will take about 10 additional minutes to bake.

  25. Hey! I’m wanting to make this along with your vanilla layer cake and stack on top of one another.
    I will be making 1x batch of vanilla layer cake mix to make 2x 10″ layers.
    Would one batch of this chocolate layer cake make 2x 10″ layers? And would they come out the same size as the vanilla layers or would you recommend otherwise..
    Thank you.

  26. This was the best chocolate cake recipe I’ve ever made. It really lived up to the description — sturdy enough to layer easily, the layers stayed moist and light, and the flavor was delicious.

    I have to admit I’ve been watching your tutorial videos on youtube while at work! I’ve been wanting to improve my cake making and decorating skills, and your videos really helped me make a beautiful cake for Mother’s Day. I’m looking forward to trying all the other recipes on this website. Thank you so much!

    1. I’m so happy to hear that James!! That’s so wonderful that you’re putting my recipes and tutorials to good use!! You have one lucky mother 🙂 Happy baking!!

  27. Hello,
    I found your fantastic recipe, but I have one question.

    You said you can bake 3x 8″ layers with this recipe. So, my problem is I only can bake one 8″ pan at first and the rest soon. So step by step…

    But what will happen with the rest of batter during the waiting time?? Do I need to put it in the fridge? And then use it after the first pan got done?
    Or better to split the recipe into 3 parts? Is it even possible?

    Beat wishes Sasha

    1. Hi Sasha!

      I would recommend just leaving it at room temp! The fridge can chill the batter, which can mess with how the layers bake up and how long it takes them to bake. It’s not ideal to leave the batter sitting out for a long time, but it’s best to leave it at room temp if you have to <3 It’s going to take so long to bake them using one pan though. I recommend getting a couple others to make your life easier!! I get mine on amazon, and they’ve lasted me for years:

  28. I used this recipe yesterday to bake a cake for my husband’s 40 birthday. It turned out lighter in colour than your version but was nonetheless delicious. I reduced the amount of sugar as it seemed to much for our taste though. I baked two 8” cakes, stacked them up with one layer of cream cheese frosting and fresh raspberries in between, additional frosting layer on top. It was tasty and looked super fancy although quite easy to bake!!! Thanks for your video, it is excellent.

    1. So happy to hear your cake turned out great Elise!! It sounds delicious, I love raspberries and chocolate together 🙂

      I usually use black cocoa in this cake recipe, which makes the batter very dark in color. If you used regular baking cocoa, it definitely would’ve been a lighter color <3

    1. If you place a flower nail upside down in the middle in the pan, it actually cooks for about the same time! Maybe a minute or two longer. Hope that helps!

  29. I love your everything about your site! The recipes are flawless and by far the easiest to replicate and use in my own kitchen! And tour decorations are phenomenal! I love to try to create the same decoration or put my own spin on them! I do have one question though. I always have an issue with my layers doming so much. It doesn’t matter the type of cake I am making, it always domes. I just made these cake layers and they domed quite a bit as well. Is this normal for this recipe, or did I do something wrong somewhere? I followed your recipe exactly except for adding 1 1/2 tsp of espresso powder. PLEASE HELP!!! Thank you so much!

    1. You are so sweet Miranda, thank you!! Having your cake layers dome isn’t anything you’re doing wrong, a lot of it comes down to how the recipe is built and the amount of leavening agents included in it!

      This chocolate layer cake recipe does dome a bit, and I usually trim the tops with a serrated knife! You also can simply press them down when they’re hot out of the oven, with a slightly smaller cake pan. I sometimes with flatten 8 inch cake layers with the bottom of a 7 inch pan. It sounds strange, but it works pretty well, and is a great alternative if you don’t want to level the layers with a knife.

      Hope that helps!!

  30. Hi!!! How would you turn your layer cake recipes into 3, 4 inch layers? would you half the 6 inch recipe, considering your small batch recipe for the chocolate was just half the 8 inch?

    1. Hi Jillian,

      Those are tiny little layers!! You can make 1/3 of a batch of batter for 3, 4-inch layers, and you’d have a tiny bit of extra batter left over!

  31. Hi!! I am planning on making this recipe for a wedding cake!! I am doing 4 nine inch cake layers for one tier and 3 6″ in layers for the top tier. Should I double or triple the recipe? Also, do you know app how many cups of batter would go into the 9 inch cake layers?

  32. Is my math correct. If I use this for the bottom tier of a wedding cake that is 14″ and I want to make that tier out of 3 1″ layers then I would need 9 1/3 cups of batter for each 1″ layer or a total of 462 cubic inches total? So one whole recipe for each layer?

    1. I know it sound crazy, but yes! one whole batch of batter for 1 14inch cake layer!! those are MASSIVE cake layers!!

  33. Do you go by the weight or the amount in your recipes? Because when I weigh it out, it is way off from the cup measurements.

  34. Hi Chelsey! I’ve been dying to ask… what brand of 7” cake pans do you use? I can’t find them in store. I’ve been looking on amazon but just wanted to see what you use.

    1. It depends on the height you want your cake layers to be! If you want them to be tall (slightly taller than an inch once leveled), you can actually use a full batch to make 4, 6-inch layers! I think the ideal amount of batter would be about 3/4 of a batch, but I’m not sure it’s worth the conversion to make slightly less batter.

      If you do use a full batch, the cake layers will need to bake for slightly longer! Hope that helps, happy baking 🙂

  35. Would this cake hold up well as the third tier on a four tier wedding cake? I use your vanilla cake recipe every time I do a wedding cake but I am always nervous when I have to put weight on top of a chocolate cake!

    1. Hi Shelby,

      This cake recipe will hold up just fine as long as they cake is properly supported with dowels 🙂 Hope that helps, happy baking!

  36. Hi! I’m baking a cake for my sister’s baby shower and I was wondering if you had an idea on how to adapt this recipe to make a 3 tier 9 inch cake? I’d love to use this recipe but I don’t think a 3 tier 8 inch will be big enough to feed all the people there. Any ideas? Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Mary!

      You can use cake flour in place of the AP flour. For every cup of all purpose flour the recipe calls for, use 1 cup + 2 TBSP cake flour. Hope that helps, happy baking!

  37. This is by far my favorite of your chocolate cakes and is my go to! I have a customer that wants a single layer 9×13 (so I can cut in half and create a two layered book). So wondering if I need to half the recipe (or do the small batch recipe) and if the time or temperature would change? Thank you so much for all of your amazing recipes! Your weekly email is the highlight of my week and my reason to go to the gym lol

    1. Hi Samantha,

      You are too sweet 🙂 This cake recipe makes two sheet cakes that are 9×13 inches. However, they’ll be slightly less than 1 inch tall once you level them. So it depends on how tall you want the layers to be! When I bake layer cakes, I place two flower nails spaced evenly apart in the center of each pan (and spray them), to help the layers bake more evenly and quickly. With flower nails, the cake layers bake in 37-40 minutes in my oven. I hope that helps, happy baking!!

  38. Hi Chelsea!

    I plan on using this recipe and your funfetti recipe for my wedding cake. I am using oval pans for this and plan on messing around with the batter amt.

    I wanted to know if you think adding chocolate chunks would cause problems for stacking and stability. My fiance inly really like double chocolate chip type cakes.

    I also wanted to know if you think i should still use simple syrup for stacking and keeping the cake moist. I will be doing this about 5 days in advance of my wedding and the frosting and decorations 7-10 days in advance.

    1. Hi Fenay!

      Sounds like you are going to have an epic wedding cake 🙂 I don’t think adding chocolate chips should cause an issue with stability or stacking, but I do recommend using mini chocolate chips, and tossing them in flour before folding them into the batter to help prevent them from sinking to the bottom of pan while the layers back.

      I definitely think you should use simple syrup for any wedding cake! even if the cake layers are moist on their own, by the time you level and stack all the tiers, they end up sitting out for a while and can dry out a bit. I always brush simple syrup onto cake layers for wedding cakes I make. I hope that helps, I’m sure your wedding cake will be amazing!!

    1. Hi Lisa! If you want to make the cake layers more moist, you can brush them with simple syrup once they’re leveled <3 It should be able to feed 25 people just fine. They won’t be super wide slices, but they’ll be tall / packed with buttercream so they’ll be filling! Hope that helps, happy baking!

  39. This is the best chocolate cake recipe I have found. So solid to stack, so moist that it melts in mouths. I have been baking this cake for a year and whoever eats it just feels more craving. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. For making a half sheet cake you will double this recipe?? Thanks in advance??

    1. I am so incredibly happy to hear that Arthi! If you are making one 12 x 18 inch sheet cake (with one layer), one batch should be just enough batter! Happy baking 🙂

    1. Hi Justin! Do you mean in general, or with this specific cake recipe??

      In general, I’d make a sponge cake recipe because they bake so quickly!

      With this cake recipe, I’d throw it directly into a blast chiller after it’s done baking, so that it cools as quickly as possible.

  40. I followed your recipe exactly & it turned out great !!! Super moist , sturdy for layering and very easy to do by seeing your video & the written instructions. Yummy !!! I can see why you use the black cocoa. I ordered mine and couldn’t wait to get baking .. Thanks Chels for the great information and q&a’s !! Youre inspirational !! 🙂

  41. Hello! I was wondering if it would be okay to make the batter and keep it in the fridge overnight if I am not quite ready to bake the cake. Thanks!

    1. Hi Christale,

      In this recipe the butter and the sugar are creamed together, to help incorporate air into the batter, to give the cake a great, light texture. If you swap the butter with oil it will throw off that texture. However, I have an awesome moist chocolate cake recipe that’s made with oil that I recommend trying!

      Here’s the link:

      Hope that helps, happy baking!!

  42. Hi! I was wondering if I could switch the eggs for flax eggs? Are there any changes I’d have to make to the recipe for this?

  43. Hi Chelsea, do you think your chocolate layer cake recipe would taste fine with your vanilla buttercream frosting? I need to have different colors of frosting for a cake I am making so I can’t do a chocolate frosting, obviously. Let me know what you think. Thanks!!

    1. Hi Mandy,

      I think this chocolate cake recipe would taste awesome with my vanilla buttercream! I’ve done that for cakes in the past and I loved the way it tasted 🙂 Hope that helps, happy baking!!

  44. Hi!!!
    I absolutely love the cakes you make and I am trying to learn to bake now. I don’t eat eggs 🙁
    Do you have any recipes for chocolate/vanilla cake without the eggs? or is there any replacement you know that I should use instead and what quantity?

    1. Hi Purvi,

      I have a great vegan cake recipe taht doesn’t use eggs! Here’s the link:

      For recipes which use eggs primarily as a leavening agent you can try a commercial egg replacement product or the following mixture: 1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil mixed with 1-1/2 tablespoons water and 1 teaspoon baking powder per egg. Or you can try 1/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce in place of each egg a recipe calls for. Hope that helps, happy baking!

  45. Hi Chelsea I wanted to make this cake but I don’t have butter cream, what would you recommend that I do or what other alternatives could I use? Thank you for your time

    1. Hi Karina,

      I’m not sure what you mean! Do you mean you can’t make the buttercream? Or do you mean you don’t have buttermilk? If that’s the case, you can use whole milk plus 1 Tbsp of lemon juice or vinegar per cup of buttermilk that a recipe calls for, or full-fat yogurt in place of the buttermilk. Hope that helps, happy baking!

    1. Hi Bryan,

      Like I chat about in this post, I like them for different purposes.

      I love my moist chocolate cake recipe because it’s super easy to make, but it doesn’t have as much structure as my layer cake recipe. If I don’t want to get out my kitchenaid or am not making a super intensely decorated cake, I prefer my moist chocolate cake.

      If I’m decorating an intricate cake and feel like I need a bit more structure, I like this recipe.

      Hope that makes sense, happy baking!

  46. Hi Chelsey,

    I love that you explained how this cake differs from other recipes. I have my four layers in the freezer right now. Would you thaw to room temperature before leveling them? Or can I level them once they reach fridge temp?

    Thanks for your time!

    1. Hi Janice,

      I would definitely let your cake layers thaw mostly to room temp before leveling them, so that the tops are easy to slice through. If the centers are still a bit frozen they’re super hard to level. You could probably cut through when they’re still a bit cold, but just be careful!! Hope that helps, happy baking!

  47. The layers of buttercream seem to be a different color between the cake layers, also the outside of the cake is decorated with different shades of chocolate buttercream as well? Do you have a recipe for that exact cake?

  48. Hey. I’ve really enjoyed reading through your website! I’ve just made this recipe but my layers look thinner than yours in the photo. Assuming that’s a 4 layer 7inch cake? Where did I go wrong? ???????????

    1. Hi Lynsey,

      I might be that your cake layers are denser than mine. This could be because you’re using too much flour (sometimes when you scoop out of a bag you end up packing a lot more flour into the cup than the recipe calls for (by weight), or you may be over mixing! Those are usually the two main culprits for dense cake layers <3 Hope that helps!!?

  49. Hi Chelsey,
    What’s the reason for using all purpose flour and not cake flour in this recipe? Can this be made using the reverse method?

    1. Hi Rabia,

      I personally just prefer the way this cake turns out with all-purpose flour! To substitute cake flour for all-purpose flour use 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour for every cup of all-purpose flour. Hope that helps, happy baking!

  50. Hi! I love your channel! I’m going to be making my own wedding cake alternating your vanilla cake and you chocolate cake recipe. However, I’m having trouble with the recipe sizing if that makes sense? I’m hoping you can help me!? I’d like to do a 12” vanilla, a 10” chocolate, an 8” vanilla and a 6” chocolate! I’ve seen your wedding cake video numerous times and I’ve already ordered the dowels and the cake rounds for the bottom! I really really hope you can help me, I admire your precision and creativity! Hopefully I can successfully do this! Thanks

    1. Hi Kristy,

      That part can be tricky, but with a little math you’ll know exactly how to scale the recipes 🙂 I walk through how I calculate how much cake batter I need for different sized tiered cakes here:

      Hope that helps, and best of luck with your wedding cake! Let me know if you have any other questions along the way, I’m always here to help!! <3

    1. Hi Kristy,

      You sure can!! Just be sure to place cake boards between the torted layers, to help them freeze flat and prevent them from sticking to one another. Hope that helps, happy baking!

    1. Hi Eta,

      I use unsalted butter for both the cake recipe and the frosting, just like the recipe card calls for <3 Hope that helps, happy baking!

  51. Hi!! This cake looks delicious! I’m planning on making it for a baby shower but I’m serving around 30 people. Do you think it’ll be enough or would I need to adjust the recipe? I don’t mind doing a double barrel with more layers but I don’t really know how to convert it. Thanks!!

    1. Hi Daniela,

      It depends on how you plan to cut the cake, and if you think everyone will actually eat a slice! You might be ok if people are ok with small slices. Otherwise you may want to make 1.5 batches, and make an extra couple layers. Hope that helps, happy baking!!

  52. Hi Chelsea! The melted dark chocolate, is it 1 1/3 cups before or after it’s melted? And how would you recommend to melt it?

    1. Hi Valerie,

      That is before it’s melted! I usually place the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and heat at a medium power level for intervals of 30 seconds (stirring between) until it’s melted. Hope that helps, happy baking!

  53. Hi Chelsea! Can I use espresso powder in this recipe or would it be too much with the black coco powder? If so, how much should I use? Thanks!

    1. Hi Mel,

      You totally can! I’d add a tsp of instant espresso powder mixed with 1 Tbsp of hot water to the batter when you add in vanilla extract. Hope that helps, happy baking!

  54. Hi Chelsea – is black cocoa similar to special dark cocoa powder? Or would I be better off using regular cocoa powder if I cannot find black? Thank you!!

    1. Hi Anna,

      It is a little bit different, but special dark cocoa powder would work great in place of the black cocoa in this recipe 🙂

      You can also use regular baking cocoa if you can’t find black cocoa or dark cocoa powder. Hope that helps, happy baking!!

  55. THANK YOU! for standardizing your recipe measurements in grams. I find it so frustrating when I have to convert before or while baking!

  56. Hi! For the frosting – where you say the chocolate should be cooled – how cool? I’m assuming it still needs to be in liquid state? But how long should it sit after melting? Thanks so much.

    1. Hi Jessica,

      For sure! I like to let my chocolate cool for 5-10 minutes, so it’s not piping hot but is still in a liquid state. Hope taht helps, happy baking!!

  57. I made this for daughters 1st birthday last week. WOW! so moist and what a delicate crumb. Thanks to isolation we could only have our parents over for it so there was so much left over but we enjoyed it the next day as well. Delicious. This will definitely be part of my cake repertoire. Thank you

    1. Hi Oluwatosin,

      You can make 4, 6-inch cake layers with this recipe! They’ll end up being pretty thick layers, and might need to bake for a couple extra minutes (35-37 minutes). Hope that helps, happy baking!

  58. I love this cake! I bought the black cocoa and I love the taste. Can you mix it longer so it’s a little fluffier? Thanks.

    1. So happy to hear that Lesley!! That’s wonderful! You can mix the batter on a high speed after adding in the eggs to make it fluffier / more spongy. Just don’t overmix the batter once you add in the flour or it will make dense, tough cake layers. Hope that helps, happy baking!

  59. Hi Chelsea! I’m obsessed with your instagram and blog; I’ve made your red velvet cake, carrot cake, pumpkin cake, and all of your small batch recipes with great success! I’m looking for a chocolate cake that I can make in 8 inch pans, but that will have more height than a regular three layer cake. Do you think the layers in this cake are thick enough that I torte them to make six 8-inch layers? Or, is there another chocolate cake recipe of yours that you’d recommend for more height?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Lauren,

      You’re too sweet! If you torte this recipe it would make it a bit taller, but I don’t think it’d be quite as tall as you want it to be with 8 inch cake layers. Sadly I don’t have a larger recipe! You could try making 1 1/2 batches of batter though and baking 4, 8-inch cake layers! That should make a taller cake like you want 🙂 Hope that helps, happy baking!

  60. Hey Chelsea— I only have 9” baking pans and I want to make a 3 layer cake. Should I change the amounts at all or keep them the same?

    1. Hi Tatum,

      I’d recommend making 1 1/2 batches to make 3, 9″ cake layer. Hope that helps, happy baking!

  61. Hi! Been searching for THE chocolate cake for a while! Can’t wait to try this recipe! I usually make two layers and torte each one. Would you recommend adjusting this recipe down at all since it makes three layers, and if so, by how much? Thanks!

    1. Hi Susan,

      These layers can be torted if you want! I’ve done that in the past and it can be turned into 6 thinner cake layers. I’d suggest just doing that rather than making 2 layers to torte (it will change the bake time a lot and that can cause the layers to dry out). Hope that helps, happy baking!

  62. Thank you, I’m going to do that!! Any idea how long you’d bake the four 8-inch layers made with 1 1/2 times the batter? Obviously I’ll just have to watch them, but I thought I’d ask!
    (As an aside, I made the small-batch version of this recipe tonight for a friend’s birthday, and it’s so rich and delicious!)

    1. Hi Lauren,

      I’d say 35-37 minutes, but def keep an eye on them 🙂 Hope this version turns out just as great as the small batch version!!

  63. Hi Chelsea! I recently found your site and I am really enjoying all that you are offering. I noticed that there isn’t any vanilla in the chocolate cake recipe. I was just wondering if that is a mistake or that this cake just doesn’t need it. Thank you!

    1. Hi Melissa,

      Thanks! In my opinion, this recipe just doesn’t need it. It’s already packed with flavor, and I don’t really notice a difference if I add vanilla. You can add in some if you want though!

  64. How long can I cool the frosting I made the cake and frosting today so I can just decorate tomorrow so how long should I have it out the fridge tell I use it

  65. I’m new at cake baking. In fact this is my first cake of yours and on my cake baking journey. I bought the 7 inch round Fat Diddio’s from your amazon site. How would I adjust this recipe to bake 4 7″ inch layers?

  66. Hi Chelsea, I absolutely love this cake recipe of yours. I made it for my daughters birthday and it was SO delicious. I’m making a decorative cake for my sons birthday in a 9×13 inch pan (2 layers) and I would love to use your recipe. Would you know what measurements I might need for this? Thanks for your advice ?

  67. I made 3 layers with 8″ pans but I want to add a 4th layer! How much do I need to make 1 layer? Also, for the buttercream icing, can I replace the dark chocolate with cocoa powder?

  68. Hi there! Is it absolutely necessary to add the syrup? Also which of your chocolate cake recipes would you recommend for a layered birthday cake with buttercream ? Thanks!

  69. Hi
    I made this cake using the small batch recipe and used 3 6 inch tins and didn’t manage to get 6 layers to do the chocolate and strawberry cake. If I want to bake this recipe using 3 x 8 inch tins to get 6 decent layers do you recommend doubling the recipe ?

  70. Hey Chelse,
    I want to make a tall 10 inch cake almost 6 inch tall. Tats probably 5 layers of Cake. How much of this recipe would I need. It’s for one tier of a wedding cake. Tanx.

  71. Could I also use the Hershey’s cocoa instead of unsweetened cocoa for the buttercream icing please ?

  72. Chelsea, I LOVE this recipe as an alternative to a straight oil-based chocolate cake! I used to always make an oil-based cake, but always saw slight bulging of the layers once it was filled and frosted. I was so excited to find your recipe, with butter!

  73. Hi 🙂 I really liked your recipe, makes a moist and easy cake to decorate. I’ve tried the “moist chocolate cake recipe” and it’s really yum but not easy to decorate as this one.
    I’ve changed the quantities as bellow because I like a little taller cakes.

    1 recipe makes: Four 6inch cakes or Three 8inch cakes (hight about 2.5-3cm)
    1 1/4 recipe makes: Two 10inch cakes (hight 3cm)

    Thanks again for helping all the bakers around the world.

    All the best from New Zealand 😉

  74. New baker here, and this was the perfect recipe for a tender cake that stacks well. I used the scaled down recipe for three 6-inch cakes, and they came out very tall. I used baking strips for flat cakes, and they took an extra five minutes in the oven. This is definitely the recipe I will save and go back to for a pretty layered cake!

  75. Hi Chelsea! Just found your site – your cakes are gorgeous! I’ve never made a butter based chocolate cake because I had heard that oil based cakes are more moist and stay moist longer. Have you had any issues with this cake being dry? Also, I was thinking of substituting the hot water with hot coffee. What do you think?

  76. I’ve heard & experienced the same thing, but not with this recipe! I just made it & it is so light & fluffy. Not dry at all. This will be my go to chocolate cake recipe

  77. You have done it again! I discovered your site a couple of months ago & all of your recipes have been amazing! I was a little hesitant when I saw it was a butter cake & no oil, but I saw the buttermilk & had faith in you, so I went for it. I made half a batch for 4” cakes & I added 1/2 tsp of vanilla bean paste. This cake came out so light & fluffy!! It’s so delicious! I will be making this cake again! You have quickly become my go-to source for cake recipes!

  78. Hi Chelsea!

    I love all your recipes and have made this cake for my brother’s birthday and it turned out amazing! I was just curious if there’s anyway to make this cake vegan while still keeping the structure that allows for stacking and frosting? My sister-in-law’s birthday is coming up and she requested a vegan chocolate cake, but I’m not sure what substitutions work best.

  79. Hi Chelsea!

    Would this recipe work in 3 8-inch Fat Daddio pans that are 4 inches tall? Or do you suggest the 2 or 3 inch tall pans?

    I recently bought these from Amazon and want thicker cake layers to make taller cakes. I currently use Chicago Metallic cake pans that are 2 inches tall, but my layers are always thin, so I have to put enough frosting in the middle to make the cake taller.

  80. I want to use your chocolate cake recipe to make the groom’s cake for my niece’s wedding. I’m planning to use a 14” round pan & want to make 2 layers. Can I double this recipe to have enough batter for the 14” pan? One making of batter won’t be enough to make a thicker layer, will it? Thanks!

  81. Hi! I have Made your vanilla cake several times and really loved the way it turned out. I decided to try your chocolate variation but I’m having trouble with my cakes doming really bad in the middle.
    Is this common or could I be doing something wrong

  82. Hi Chels. I just made this cake today. It tastes really good but it always cracks in the surface the matter what I do. The batter was only 1/3 of 10 inch pan. I put flower nail in the middle and placed baking strips outside of pan but still cracked on the surface. I didn’t overmix either. Not sure what am I doing wrong. When I use the thin layer 8 inch pans they don’t crack but unfortunately they don’t sell those in 10 inch size

  83. Hiya! I’m trying this on Monday and I’m also covering it in marshmallow fondant. I’m wondering if I need coffee in the hot water because I’m using normal unsweetened cocoa powder instead of black? ?

  84. Hi Chelsea I love this recipe made it twice it was amazing ,I want to make it again with less sweet for a friend .how much sugar can I reduce in this recipe? am making this for a truffle cake

  85. I just wanted to thank you for this recipe. I was asked to make my nephew’s wedding cake and I was so nervous to make a sturdy and good tasting 3 layer cake and this was perfect. I did do a few mild adjustments for high altitude and they turned out so great. I have loved your cake recipes for a long time for my kids cakes but it’s nice to know this will be my go to cake for future cakes Thanks again for sharing your hard work with us.

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