Small Batch Chocolate Cake Recipe: 6 Inch Cake

Longest. Title. Ever!! But that’s exactly what this post is about. I’ve taken my go-to chocolate layer cake, and have altered it to create the perfect small batch chocolate cake recipe. This recipe makes three, 6-inch cake layers that are the perfect height.

I initially modified my vanilla layer cake recipe, to make a small batch vanilla cake recipe.

You all were quite enthusiastic about it, and several of you asked me to do the same with my chocolate cake recipe. So here we are, ready to make the perfect 6-inch chocolate cake.

image of sliced blackberry chocolate cake

Why Would I Need A Small Batch Version?

My chocolate recipe is great, but makes a pretty big cake. One regular sized batch makes a cake big enough to feed about 24 people.

This is great if you’re making a cake for a party, or a large group of people. But sometimes you don’t need to make that big of a cake.

6 inch chocolate drip cake

You might just want to make a cute little six-inch layer cake. Maybe you want to make a smaller cake to create a certain look.

Sometimes it just comes down to the size of pans people have. A lot of bakers start off with 6 inch cake pans, and don’t have bigger pans.

If that’s you, then today is your lucky day.

Jazzing Up This Chocolate Cake Recipe

As I recipe tested and photographed this small batch chocolate cake recipe, I chose to add a simple chocolate drip, and frost the cake with my favorite chocolate buttercream.

Blackberries and figs were in season, so I threw some of those onto the cake too!

I also added a bit of blackberry jam between the cake layers, to tie the garnish and the flavor of the cake together.

small 6 inch chocolate cake recipe

It sounds like an odd flavor combination, but I swear blackberries and chocolate are delicious together!

You can also keep things a bit more simple, and just focus on chocolate if you prefer. There is nothing wrong with a classic chocolate cake frosted with chocolate buttercream!

What Does Small Batch Mean?

In this case, small batch just means I’ve updated the amount of ingredients you use, to make a smaller cake.

At first I thought I could just cut the recipe in half, and make three cake layers. You can do this, but the cake layers turn out quite a bit thinner than I’m used to.

image of three, 6-inch cake layers

I wanted each cake layer to be at least an inch tall, so I knew I’d have to play around this.

In the end, it turned out that making 2/3 of a batch is the ideal amount of batter to make a 6-inch cake.

How Many Layers Does This Recipe Make?

Like I mentioned above, this small batch chocolate cake recipe bakes three, perfect little 6 inch layers.

It may seem like you’re filling your pans pretty full, but this batter doesn’t rise much as it bakes.

image of stacked, 6-inch chocolate layer cake

That’s part of what makes my chocolate cake recipe so great though. With that in mind, you should end up with cake layers that are just a bit taller than 1 inch once they’re leveled.

If you want to make a taller cake with four cake layers, I recommend following my standard sized chocolate cake recipe.

The cake will turn out to be quite tall, but tall cakes are all the rage lately.

If this small batch recipe is used to make 4 cake layers, they will end up being on the thin side, and should be baked for slightly less time (24-27 minutes).

Let Me Know What You Think!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this small batch chocolate cake recipe! Do you like to make smaller cakes like this?

image of sliced, 6 inch chocolate cake recipe

Nothing makes me happier than when I get emails or DMs with photos of your amazing cakes. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with your triumphs, or questions <3

If you try this recipe, please tag me @chelsweets. Also use the #chelsweets so that I can see your amazing creations!

Yield: 16 servings

Small Batch Chocolate Layer Cake

Small Batch Chocolate Layer Cake

This small batch chocolate cake recipe makes just enough batter for a perfect, 6 inch layer cake! It's moist, delicious, and the ideal size!

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

Ingredients

Chocolate Cake Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (260 grams)
  • 1 2/3 cup granulated sugar (330 grams)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (3 grams)
  • 1 tsp baking powder (4 grams)
  • 2/3 tsp baking soda (4 grams)
  • 3 large eggs, room temp (168 grams)
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, room temp (150 grams)
  • 2/3 cup hot water (156 grams)
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk, room temp (158 grams)
  • 2/3 cup black cocoa (67 grams)

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups (or 3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (339 grams)
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar (454 grams) - or a 1 lb bag
  • 1 cup of melted dark chocolate, cooled (174 grams, 6 oz.)
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa, sifted (67 grams)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (3 grams)
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream (76 grams)

Instructions

Chocolate Cake Layers

  1. Begin by preheating the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line three 6-inch pans with parchment rounds, and spray with non-stick spray.
  2. Add the sugar and butter into the bowl of a stand mixer, and mix on high for 1 minute with a whisk attachment. The mixture should become light in color.
  3. Add in the eggs, one at a time. Then add baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix on high for another minute.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the cup of hot water, and cup of buttermilk. Pour in the cup of black cocoa, and whisk until no clumps remain.
  5. 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.
  6. Pour in 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 your kitchen!)
  7. Mix in the 2nd cup of flour, at a low speed, and mix on low until the flour is incorporated.
  8. Evenly divide between the prepared pans.
  9. Bake for 32-34 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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 the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. 
  3. Add in the sifted cocoa, and mix on low until the cocoa is fully incorporated, and no clumps remain.
  4. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream.
  5. Mix in the cooled, melted chocolate.
  6. Once fully mixed, add in the salt.
  7. Beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  3. Apply a thin coat of frosting around the the cake, to fully cover the cake layers. Smooth using a bench scraper, then chill the cake in the fridge (10 minutes) or freezer (5 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch.
  4. Add a second, thicker layer of frosting to the cake, and smooth using a bench scraper. Then decorate as desired!

Notes

These cake layers can be made in advance!! Learn more about how far in advance they can be made, and how to properly wrap them in my post on how to make cake layers ahead of time.

This buttercream can also be made in advance!! I highly recommend making it ahead of time to make the decoration of a cake less stressful and more fun. It keeps in the fridge for several weeks, if stored in an airtight container.

When you're ready to use the chilled buttercream, remove it from the fridge a few hours in advance (or overnight) and allow it to come to room temperature.

Give it a good stir with a rubber spatula or your kitchen aid, to get rid of any air bubbles that may have formed. Once the buttercream is smooth again, it's ready to use!

Nutrition Information

Yield

16

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 462 Total Fat 17g Saturated Fat 10g Trans Fat 0g Unsaturated Fat 5g Cholesterol 65mg Sodium 277mg Carbohydrates 74g Net Carbohydrates 0g Fiber 3g Sugar 55g Sugar Alcohols 0g Protein 5g

34 thoughts on “Small Batch Chocolate Cake Recipe: 6 Inch Cake

  1. Sounds Delicious, Can’t Wait To Try, can I ask why black coco?? is it for the flavor or color. if I would make this cake with Hershey’s coco will it be ok because that’s all I can find in my local stores. Thank You.

    1. I’m not particular about that! I use the store brand or eagle star baking powder. Usually whatever your store sell should work great <3

  2. Thank you so much. I am planning to bake my son’s first birthday cake.. want to start my baking with your recipe and all credit goes to you..the way you explain every tiny detail in your recipes makes it easy to understand… after reading it I think I can do it ?

    1. Hi Nay,

      Black cocoa is a specially processed unsweetened cocoa powder, that is slightly more alkaline and darker in color than regular cocoa! If you can’t find any, you can always use dark cocoa powder or regular cocoa powder in its place. The black cocoa tastes amazing though, I highly recommend it!

      This is the brand I use, I order mine on amazon: https://amzn.to/2lyM2tU

    1. You can bake this recipe in those pans, but I personally don’t love wilton pans! they usually have a slight angle on the sides. I use the fat daddio pan’s (silly name, but I love the brand!), and I get them on amazon. Here’s the link: https://amzn.to/2mbwSuG

    1. Hi Emily,

      I’m so sorry about that!! It’s 2 cups of flour! I’ve updated the instructions to reflect this. Thank you for letting me know!

  3. I just made this and put the layers in the freezer. I tasted the scraps though, and sweet baby Jesus are they delicious!! 1 question: Do you sift your flour? (I sifted mine and the cakes rose a great deal, but you said they don’t, so I was wondering if that is the difference.) I also used Hershey’s dark cocoa powder. I’ve used it before and love it! It was great in this recipe, but I’m planning to order the black cocoa too.

  4. I made this recipe in a 6 and 8 inch. I made your marbled cake recipe with success as it was super light fluffy and moist. This chocolate cake recipe however it was fluffy but not moist at all. Could you tell me what might have gone wrong? I followed the directions to both chocolate recipes to the t. Thank you!

    1. Hi Anita,

      They’re just two different chocolate cake recipes! The all chocolate version of my marble cake recipe is this: https://chelsweets.com/2017/03/02/the-best-chocolate-layer-cake-recipe/

      This chocolate cake recipe is a cross between a sponge cake and a butter cake. However, it shouldn’t be dry! if it’s dry or too dense it means you might be 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!!?

  5. Hi! Love your chocolate cake recipe too! I’m making a round cake (like a ball shape) in fat diddos sphere pan, how long would I have to bake it for? It’s a 9in size
    Thank you!

  6. I ordered 4 7×2 of the daddy cake pans. If I use 3 of them for this recipe the thickness should be ok? I’m guessing it will be slightly under an inch? How long do you think I should bake them?
    Thank you for your help

    1. Hi Deborah,

      They’ll definitely be on the thin side! I’d recommend using my regular batch chocolate cake recipe if you plan to use 7 inch cake pans <3

  7. Hi
    I am going to make your 6 inch chocolate recipe and wonder why you didn’t add in espresso to this recipe. I am not a fan of black cocoa and will use dark cocoa instead and wondered if the espresso powder would enhance the chocolate flavor..

    Thanks

  8. Hi again

    I am measuring out ingredients and noticed there isn’t any vanilla listed. Is that just personal preference? This chocolate will be the second tier on top of your vanilla cake base. This is going out to a baby shower. Thank you for your help..

    1. 1 regular batch of my cream cheese frosting should be plenty!! it’s a pretty small cake, so you probably won’t need more than 4-5 cups of frosting 🙂

      I add a lot between my cake layers, so the amount can vary a bit from person to person! But that’s my best estimate. Happy baking Jodi!

    1. Hi Bri! You can, but the cake won’t be as moist! You can also use sour cream in place of the buttermilk, or full-fat yogurt 🙂 Both of those will also make the cake delicious and moist <3

  9. I have a friend that wants an 8 inch cake but only 2 layers. Would this recipe be enough for that? The original recipe is 3 layers and she doesn’t want it that big.

    1. Hi Cristina,

      This version of my chocolate cake recipe is 2/3 of one regular sized batch, so it should be perfect to make 2, 8-inch cake layers 🙂

  10. Hi!
    I noticed on your chocolate cupcake recipe, you call for instant espresso (which I love!) Is there a way to incorporate the espresso in this recipe? Or is there a reason why you did not?

    1. Hi Haley! You can definitely add in 1 tsp of espresso dissolved in 1 TBsp of water into this batter! I’d recommend adding it in to the buttermilk/cocoa mixture.

      I didn’t include it in this recipe because not everyone loves coffee with their chocolate. You’d be surprised how many comments I get asking if people can omit it!

      I decided not to add it to this recipe for that reason, but you’re more than welcome to add some in if you like it 🙂

    1. Hi Jennifer! I actually love this recipe with sour cream!! You can swap sour cream for buttermilk in a 1:1 ratio. Hope that helps, happy baking!

Let me know what you think!