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!

Classic Chocolate Layer 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!

Classic Chocolate Layer Cake

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.

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).

Baking Pans

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. (Pro tip: For even cake layers, place your cake pans on a scale and weigh each pan as you add the batter.)

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.

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!

Classic Chocolate Layer Cake

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Classic Chocolate Layer Cake

Classic Chocolate Layer Cake

  • Author: Laura | Tutti Dolci
  • 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


  1. 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.
  2. Divide batter evenly between cake pans and smooth with an offset spatula. Tap pans sharply to reduce air bubbles.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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

Classic Chocolate Layer Cake

More chocolate recipes to try:

Caramel Fudge Layer Cake
Salted Caramel Chocolate Cups
Triple Chocolate Brownie Cups
Chocolate Pound Cake

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  1. My husband was going through withdrawals as I had no chocolate desserts in the house. You’ve come to the rescue with the perfect chocolate cake!

  2. YUM! Beautiful Classic Chocolate Cake, Laura! Love that you used brown sugar and yogurt and that you added espresso powder to enhance the cocoa for a nice, deep chocolate flavor. Cannot wait to try this recipe. Your Fudge Frosting looks divine! Thank you for sharing!

  3. Laura,

    Your chocolate cake looks and sounds like the perfect layer cake that I hope to bake very, VERY soon! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe and I can’t wait to let you know how it turned out in my cucina!


  4. This recipe was very quick and simple to make, and was extremely luscious and delicious. I quickly made it after I put my infant to bed (I mention this, because it shows how simple it is!). It is the perfect specimen for chocolate cake with chocolate icing! I made it as a 9×13 cake and added Fancy Sprinkles on the top once it was frosted. It is a very rich cake, which is what I loved about it: moist, fluffy, fudge, chocolatey, I could go on and on! 100% recommend

  5. Hello,
    I have made a few of your recipes and find them uncomplicated and deliver results every time. I certainly trust your recipes.
    I am from Australia and use grams, not cup measures.I am sure that the recipes I have tried would be even better if I was using more accurate weight measures. Could you please tell me the weight of 1 cup of all-purpose flour and 1 cup of cake flour?
    Thank you,

    1. Hi Angela, so glad you’re enjoying my recipes! I do include gram weights when I find them imperative for the success of the recipe. For 1 cup of all-purpose flour, I use 140 grams. I always make my own cake flour with cornstarch and all-purpose flour, so the weight is approximately 138 grams.

      1. Thanks so much. I really appreciate it. I see so many US recipes with different weights for a cup of flour but I will certainly follow your weights.
        I so love your recipes.
        Warm regards from Australia,

  6. Hi Darling!
    I’ve been following you on your instagram for a while and i ended up with this recipe and have tried it twice so far. I love the fact that i can adjust the sweetness of cake by using real chocolate and as a result have my cake taste more chocolate-y than sugar-y!

    It’s just that in my country i don’t have access to the chocolates you recommended and just use what i have found good quality. So i was wondering if the type of chocolate could end up in lengthening the baking time? Mine usually takes around 50 minutes until the toothpick comes out of cake almost clean.
    But also i should also point out that i use a 11″ pan and then cut it into two layers after cooling down because i don’t have two identical small pans. 🙈

    1. Hi Golnoosh! So happy to hear that you love this cake too! 🙂 The baking pan is probably what’s affecting the baking time so significantly. Is the pan glass or metal? If it’s a glass pan, those take longer to bake as well. Hope that helps!

  7. Hi, I so love baking! I live at 7000 feet, and my cakes, especially chocolate, almost always fail to bake evenly. Do you happen to have altitude adjustments to get a good bake?

  8. 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!

  9. I love chocolate cake but have always struggled to make a decent one myself. This was truly fantastic.

  10. 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?

    1. 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.

  11. 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

    1. 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! 🙂

  12. hello
    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?

    1. 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.

      1. 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?

        1. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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 🙂

    1. 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!