Well this post is a big deal to me... This post is the accomplishment of a goal that I set in this post - a post I wrote two years ago. I had a goal of making my first layered cake - a really, really good chocolate layered cake that tastes good and looks good. And this weekend I finally did it! That might seem like a minuscule goal, but achieving this was a big deal to me. Has anyone told you that making layered cakes from scratch for the first time is HARD? Making sure the layers are the same size, making sure the layers don't fall while they are in the oven, and making sure it tastes decent all in one = hard. And the frosting... I might have gotten a pimple or two from frosting this cake. So. Hard.

All of that is my honesty, not a way of deterring you from making this SINFULLY delicious cake. This was my third attempt at making this cake. My first attempt resulted in cake batter spilling out in my oven. I then purchased that green milk glass cake stand to get myself excited about trying again. I don't even want to talk about what happened on my second attempt... But I think that homemade layered cakes are are a labor of love and personable, which is the reason I made this goal. I wanted to learn how to bake a cake that I could make on special occasions for people I love and for my kids that I hope to one day have. And this Ina Garten cake my friends, is "the one."

When I tasted this cake for the first time, I wanted to melt. SO GOOD! I love a really, really moist and rich chocolate cake and this cake is just that. You would probably have to leave it out for two days to dry it out. The less rich, but really flavorful mocha frosting perfectly compliments the richness of the cake. Tasting it all put together definitely made it worth the trials and time it took for me to make it.

To keep you from scrolling for an hour, I have posted the recipe after the jump. I've also posted a few tips to keep you from getting the pimples I got... :)

Here is what you need and what to do:


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Cocoa Powder)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Frosting (* see my tip below)

6 oz semi-sweet chocolate ( I used Ghiardelli)
2 sticks (1/2 lb) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 egg yolk, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
2 teaspoons hot tap water

To Make The Cake...

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom of two 8-inch x 3-inch round cake pans. I used these. Line the bottom with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans. Set aside.

2. Place a sifter over the bowl of an electric mixer that is fitted with the paddle attachment. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt right into the bowl and mix on low speed until just combined.

3. In another bowl (or large measuring cup), combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.

4. With the mixer on low, slowly add the coffee and mix just to combine. Scrap the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and mix again just to combine. .

5. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans. The batter will be really runny! Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean.

6. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes!! The cakes are REALLY moist, so you have to let them set in the pan for at least 30 minutes. If you don't, the cakes will call apart. After 30 minutes, carefully invert the cakes onto a cooling rack to allow them to cool completely.

To Make The Frosting...

1. Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until melted. Alternatively, you could melt the chocolate in the microwave. Set the chocolate aside to cool completely, about 20 minutes.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until pale yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat on medium-high speed for another 3 minutes.

3. With the mixer on low, gradually add the confectioners sugar, then beat on medium speed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and mix again until the mixture is smooth.

4. Dissolve the coffee powder with the 2 teaspoons of hot tap water.

5. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the cooled, melted chocolate. Then add the instant coffee. Mix until everything is just combined.

To Assemble the Cake...

1. Put a small dollip of frosting in the center of the cake stand. This will keep the cake from moving as you frost it. Place one layer of the cake flat side up on the cake stand. Spread the top of the layer evenly with frosting using an offset spatula. Take the icing all the way to the edge.

2. Place the second layer on top, flat side up. Place a large dollip of frosting on the top of the cake. Use and offset spatula to evenly spread the icing over the top and sides of the cake. See my tips below for more info on how to do this...

* Tips:

* The original recipe calls for an 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pan. Two inches is not high enough! The batter needs plenty of room to rise, so 3 inches of height is safer and results in a cleaner oven. Trust me, I know...

* Don't open the oven when as the cakes bake. They might fall. Trust me, I know that, too.

* Use a 1 cup measure to evenly divide the batter into the pans. That was my way to make sure that each pan had about the same amount of batter.

* My cake has TWO batches of frosting. The recipe for one layer (the recipe above) was just enough for the middle of the cake and for a crumb coat, which is a thin layer of frosting that seals in the crumbs of the cake. After I applied the crumb coat, I wrapped the cake in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator until the next day. I made another batch of frosting and spread it on top of the cooler layer of frosting. The cooler layer of frosting made it easier the spread the second layer across the cake and down the sides. It's definitely fine with one batch of frosting, but prettier to me with two batches of frosting.

* An offset spatula makes it 200 times easier to spread the frosting on the cake. I used this one and it made it so much easier.

* YouTube taught me the basics of frosting a cake. Just search for "How to Frost a Cake" and you will be thankful you did.

* Read the full recipe several times so that you don't forget anything, be patient during the process and have fun! That tip would have helped me tremendously the first few times I tried to make this cake!

Images by me
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  1. You aren't going to believe this, but I have this exact cake going up on Thursday. WHAAAT. Omg it's SOOO GOOD. And the layers are no joke - which is why I made mine a naked cake ;)

  2. this looks fabulous. i'm trying it this week!

  3. You did a great job - it looks incredible.

  4. Your photos just kill me! Looks so beyond delicious!!! xo

  5. Oh my gosh! You killed this. Great job. :)
    Have you seen something called 'Wilton Baking Strips'? They're these silver strips that velcro around the cake pan and you put them in the oven. Apparently you put them on and your cake will bake flat- perfect for layered cakes. I've got no idea if it's true, but I'm dying to try them. (on Amazon).
    Anyway, great job! I'm going to give this an attempt.

    1. i USED THE WILTON STRIPS BUT I bake larger cakes so I made my own with wet paper towels folded in strips, wrapped around the pans and foil over them to keep them on. This works well.

  6. Bravo! Your cake looks absolutely amazing! Wish I had a piece right now :) I'm still envious of your gorgeous cake pedestal.

    p.s. I'm proud of you for your cake perseverance, even when the first two tries didn't go as planned.

  7. Way to go!! It looks amazing!! And these photos are gorgeous! Makes me SO wish I had a piece right now!!

  8. Lady this is mouth watering amazing! I gave up sugar for the month, but next month you've inspired me to get baking! xo Mandy @waitingonmartha

  9. So freaking perfect! You out-did yourself! :)

  10. Looks like my Mom's chocolate cake. Her recipe called for a cup of hot water and instant coffee granules in with the dry ingredients and also she used cake flour. The batter was really runny and on her recipe card she notes that. You did a very nice job with that cake. I can smell the chocolate and I would have it with scoop of vanilla ice cream and a big glass of skim milk. That way you don't have to worry about the calories in the cake or ice cream. There is always a way to justify chocolate.

  11. Hi! Is the egg yolk optional for the frosting?

  12. One of the biggest parts of any wedding is going to be the wedding cake, regardless if the wedding happens to be small or large. The flavor, how big it is going to be, and the wedding cake topper are all important to help really immerse the guests into the theme.


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