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


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)


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!


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



Serving Size


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

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

    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!

  1. I was super excited to make this. However, the cake itself was very dry and crumbly? not sure if it was something I did but thought I followed directions exactly. The frosting and filling were good. But the dry cake just ruined it.

    1. Hi Ang! So sorry to hear that!!

      If your cake turns out dry, sometimes that can be because it’s overbaked! Remember, the cake will continue to bake a bit more once it’s out of the oven! The other thing that could cause that is if you are over mixing your batter. Hopefully it’s one of those two, and it’s an easy fix. Hope that helps!

  2. Hello, I love your recipes and have made a few of them but I was wondering can I replace all purpose with cake flour in your recipes?

    1. Hi Nancy,

      You sure can! 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!! <3

  3. Hi! I see that you use black cocoa for your chocolate cake. I usually use regular cocoa, but I have Hershey’s Special Dark. Are you going for a darker cake or does the black cocoa change texture and flavor? I also would sub the hot water with coffee, and you mention you use a whisk. Do you switch to the paddle or stick with the whisk (and why one over the other)? I am making a 3 layer cake soon, and I plan to use your vanilla cake, but because I will be alternating chocolate and vanilla, I want cake that is very close in texture. Can you advise asap because I need to bake my layers soon. Thanks very much! Sorry for so many questions….

    1. Hi Paula,

      The black cocoa is really just for taste! Dark cocoa would work great too, or you can use regular cocoa if you prefer it.

      I just mean a hand whisk! I whisk together the buttermilk, hot water and cocoa in a separate bowl by hand.

      My chocolate buttermilk layer cake is the same cake base as my vanilla cake, and the texture is exactly the same (it swaps out some of the flour for cocoa). I recommend using it if you want the textures to be the same! Here’s the link:

      Or you can use my marble cake recipe, which uses one batch of batter to make half a batch of vanilla and half a batch of chocolate <3 Here’s the link for my marble cake:

      Hope that helps, happy baking!

Let me know what you think!