Classic Chocolate Layer Cake
Here’s to classic chocolate layer cake! This rich and fudgy cake tastes like the best Devil’s food chocolate cake layered with perfect chocolate buttercream frosting. Topped with swirls of buttercream, chocolate cake is perfect for birthdays, the weekend, and any occasion that calls for cake!
A variation of my easiest chocolate cupcake recipe, the one-bowl batter comes together in minutes. Whip up the chocolate buttercream frosting, and you’re ready to swirl away!
Easy Chocolate Layer Cake
One Bowl Cake – I love this cake recipe because it comes together in minutes! Whisk up the batter in a large bowl, no mixer required.
5 Secrets to Baking Decadent Chocolate Desserts
Room Temperature Ingredients – Room temperature eggs, milk, and Greek yogurt ensure an extra moist cake.
Boiling Water – Boiling water whisked into the batter blooms and dissolves the cocoa and helps melt the chocolate for a super rich, Devil’s food chocolate flavor. Instant espresso brings out the chocolate flavor even further (if you’re not a coffee lover, feel free to omit the espresso).
This cake batter is divided between two 8-inch round cake pans for nice layers (and the perfect ratio of cake to buttercream frosting!).
For a three-layer cake, divide the batter evenly between three 8-inch round cake pans and bake for 25 to 28 minutes.
This cake can also be baked in 9-inch round cake pans. For a two-layer cake, divide the batter evenly between two 9-inch rounds and bake for 20 to 22 minutes. For a three-layer cake, divide the batter evenly between three 9-inch round cake pans and bake for 17 to 19 minutes.
Pro tip: For even cake layers, place your cake pans on a scale and weigh each pan as you add the batter
Chocolate Sheet Cake
Want a chocolate sheet cake? No problem! Pour the batter into a 13 x 9-inch baking pan and bake for 24 to 26 minutes for an easy dark chocolate sheet cake!
Best chocolate cake recipes:
Did you try this Chocolate Layer Cake Recipe? Let me know by leaving a comment and rating below!Print
Classic Chocolate Layer Cake
- Prep Time: 40 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
- Yield: 1 8-inch cake, serves 12
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: American
The BEST recipe for classic chocolate layer cake! Easy chocolate layer cake topped with perfect chocolate buttercream frosting is the best chocolate cake!
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp instant espresso
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 4 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, sifted
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 5 Tbsp heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 350°F and spray two 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray.
- Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl; make a well in the center of the mixture. Add sugars, eggs, egg yolk, milk, yogurt, oil, and vanilla to flour mixture; whisk in just until incorporated. Dissolve instant espresso in boiling water; add to batter and whisk in just until smooth. Fold in chopped chocolate.
- Divide batter evenly between cake pans and smooth with an offset spatula. Tap pans sharply to reduce air bubbles.
- Bake for 28 to 30 minutes, until cakes spring back to the touch, a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs, and the edges are pulling slightly away from the pan. Cool cakes completely in pans on a wire rack.
- For the frosting, beat butter and salt in a large mixer bowl on medium speed until combined. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add sifted cocoa, beating until incorporated. Mix in vanilla. Add powered sugar 1 cup at a time, alternating with 1 tablespoon of heavy cream. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of heavy cream and mix on low speed until combined, then beat on medium speed for 1 minute, until light and airy.
- To assemble, place one cake layer on a rotating cake stand. Use an offset spatula to spread about 1 cup frosting over the layer. Add second cake layer and spread about 1 cup frosting over the layer, swirling the frosting generously over the edge of the layer. Use the offset spatula to apply frosting to the sides of the cake while you rotate the cake stand, then use a bench scraper to gently smooth the edges of the cake.
- Store leftover cake covered in the refrigerator; bring to room temperature before serving.
Cake Layers: You can bake this cake in either 2 or 3 layers. For 3 layers, divide batter evenly between two 8-inch round cake pans and bake for 25 to 28 minutes.
9-inch round cake pans: For a two-layer cake, divide the batter evenly between two 9-inch rounds and bake for 20 to 22 minutes. For a three-layer cake, divide the batter evenly between three 9-inch round cake pans and bake for 17 to 19 minutes.
Chocolate Sheet Cake: Pour the batter into a 13 x 9-inch baking pan and bake for 24 to 26 minutes.
Instant espresso: I recommend Starbucks VIA
Keywords: Chocolate Cake, Cake, Layer Cake, Chocolate Buttercream Frosting, Chocolate Frosting
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I don’t have ANY greek yogurt! Will this work without? I don’t have sour cream either!
Hi Jackie, try increasing the vegetable oil to 3/4 cup (instead of 1/2 cup).
Just now coming back to this recipe to make again for a birthday. Last year it was a hit! Thank you so much for this recipe!
So happy to hear that, thank you Jackie! 🙂
Hi~ I love the sheet cake version and it’s been my go-to devil’s chocolate cake recipe for a few years now! I’m planning on the layer version for an upcoming party but the problem is that I don’t have two identical round cake pans. Instead, I’d like to double the recipe and bake it in a 10 x 3″ round pan then cut the cake into two layers. How long should my baking time be?
Thank you 🙂
Hi Larks, so happy to hear that! 🙂 Just want to make sure I understand your question – you plan to use one 10 x 3″ round pan for the cake, and then slice in half to make 2 layers? If that’s correct, then I would say do not double the recipe, simply pour all the batter into the single pan (otherwise you will have way too much batter). I haven’t baked with a 3″ deep cake pan before, so I don’t know what the baking time will be. I would bake for 28-30 minutes, and then use a tester every few minutes from there until it comes out with just a few crumbs.
Since this cake is very moist, I would also cool it completely, then freeze for 1 hour before slicing into two layers. Hope that helps!
Yep, that’s what I meant. Thank you so much, I’ll be doing just as you advised! 🙂
Hi! Loved the cake recipe, came out nice and fluffy, kids were raving about it. I used a different buttercream frosting as heavy cream is rather hard to find here. Thank you very much for sharing with us.
So glad you tried this recipe! 🙂
Can you delete the espresso powder without compromising the taste (I’m allergic). Thanks!
Hi BethAnn, yes you can omit the espresso powder. Happy baking! 🙂
I’m planning on making this cake for my son’s birthday tomorrow. However, could I bake it in a classic single spring form tin? And if so what would the baking time be?
Hi there! I have only tested this cake in round cake pans and in a 9 x 13″ rectangular baking pan. I’m concerned that the batter could leak out of a springform pan, so I would wrap the bottom of the pan very securely with foil before using. As far as baking time, my estimate is approximately 35-40 minutes.
Thank you for your quick response. When you say you’ve cooked in round cake pans is that sandwich pans or just one round tin? What would the cooking time be for that please?
You can bake this cake in 2 or 3 round cake pans, and in 8-inch or 9-inch cake pans. The cake pictured here was baked in two 8-inch round cake pans to make a two-layer cake. See the note section of the recipe card for pan size and baking times.
I made this cake today and it turned out perfectly! I’m so happy I tried your recipe.
I’m so glad this cake was a hit! Thank you, Mia! 🙂
Hi Tutti two questions. Can I use normal yogurt instead of Greek yogurt for the cake and can I use milk instead of cream for the frosting? Thank you
Hi Nora! Yes you can use regular yogurt in the cake and you can use milk in the frosting. For the frosting, alternate the milk with the powdered sugar. You probably will only need 3 tablespoons total of milk, and can omit the final 2 tablespoons. Simply beat the frosting for 1 minute on medium speed until light and airy. Happy baking! 🙂
Can I use Buttermilk instead of whole milk for this recipe?
Hi Devora! Yes you can use buttermilk in this recipe. Happy baking! 🙂
If I don’t want to use the yogurt should I double the amount of milk? Or can I just omit the yogurt and leave the same amount of milk?
Hi Stef! The yogurt actually replaces some of the fat that you’d typically find in a cake recipe. If you want to omit the yogurt, I would increase the vegetable oil to 3/4 cup.
I love chocolate cake but have always struggled to make a decent one myself. This was truly fantastic.
I’m so happy to hear that, D! Thank you so much! 🙂
My whole family loved this cake! Thank you for sharing your recipe, it was so easy to follow and the cake is chocolate heaven – so moist and so fudgy!
So happy to hear that, thank you Tamara! 🙂