Classic Chocolate Cake

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There is just something so festive about homemade cake. And when it’s chocolate, it’s definitely a reason to celebrate.

This is a no-frills cake but hits all the right notes that a cake should hit. It’s moist. Not too dense, but dense enough. And the perfect ratio of cake to icing. Ideal for serving at birthday parties, BBQs, showers, or any time of the year at home with the family. This cake rivals our Fudge Cupcakes with Marshmallow Filling and our Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake! And we promise it’s not hard to prepare!

A classic chocolate cake sitting on a white cake stand and is topped with toffee bits and a slice of the cake has been removed.

How To Make Classic Chocolate Cake

This cake is classic in every way. Grandma used to make the best cakes and this is one of our all-time favorites.

The sour cream chocolate frosting is the perfect complement to the cake. Perfect in every possible way.

 

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The Ingredients You Will Need

The ingredients for the cake are very pantry friend. Just remember to put your butter and eggs out an hour or so before you get started!

For the cake, here’s what you’ll need:

Flour – All-purpose
Unsweetened cocoa powder – Hershey’s is classic
Baking soda and baking powder – Gives the cake a nice rise
Salt
Butter – Unsalted and room temperature
Sugar
Eggs – Room temperature
Vanilla extract– Adds such great flavor
Milk – Whole is best

For the frosting, here’s what you’ll need:

Semisweet chocolate – get the morsels (or chips)
Butter – Unsalted, doesn’t need to be room temperature
Sour cream – Adds a luxuriousness
Powdered sugar – AKA confectioners’ sugar

EXPERT TIP: We love making a two-layer cake with two 9-inch straight-edge pans. However, you can also prepare this cake using two 8-inch cake pans (use just 3½ cups of the batter), a 13×9-inch baking dish, or cupcakes. See NOTES for bake times.

Chocolate cake batter being poured from a mixing bowl into a greased 9-inch cake pan.

Tips For Making Chocolate Cake

Ahead of Time – Remember to put your butter (for the cake) and eggs out at least an hour before you start preparing the batter. They need to be at room temperature to achieve the best results. Also, the icing can be made up to 3 days in advance and kept in the fridge, covered. Let sit out for at least an hour before frosting the cake.

Cream the Butter and Sugar Sufficiently – We recommend using a mixer (stand or hand) to cream the butter with the sugar. And let the mixer go (on medium) for a couple of minutes until the mixture is nice and fluffy and pale in color. This helps to make a moist cake. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides all the way through the mixing process.

Add Your Favorite Topping(s) – This cake is absolutely amazing by itself. However, if you had some extra toffee bits, milk chocolate morsels, or a block of chocolate that can be shaved, then have some fun and add it to the iced cake. You can sprinkle on top and/or press into the sides. Or, make extra icing and pipe some whisps on top. Have fun! It adds to the joy of the cake.

EXPERT TIP: When using cake pans, you’ll want to grease the bottoms, then line with parchment paper, grease again, and then add a little flour. This ensures easy removal of the cakes from the pans. Be sure to let the cakes cool completely before icing. Carefully transferring them to a baking rack expedites the cooling.

Two baked chocolate cakes sitting on baking racks and they have not been frosted yet.

How To Serve

This cake really is the perfect cake for serving at a birthday party, or any kind of celebration, big or small, for that matter.

The cake is super moist, but also firm enough, that it makes slicing a breeze. And if there ever was a cake that begged for a tall glass of cold milk, it would be this one.

EXPERT TIP: If you are making a two-tiered cake, you’ll want to have a cake stand or container to keep the cake in after you’ve iced it. Once you cut the cake, the inside will begin to dry out if it’s not covered. If you are baking in a baking dish or pan, simply cover with foil or plastic wrap. The cake can sit out on the counter for 4 to 5 days, or be kept in the refrigerator for a week to 10 days.

A close-up view of a classic chocolate cake sitting on a white circular platter and is topped with toffee bits.

Other Amazing Cake Recipes

We’ve probably never met a cake we didn’t like and these are some that we absolutely love and think you will, too!

German Chocolate Cake
Red Velvet Cake
Classic Carrot Cake
Coconut Cream Cake
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Sweet Potato Bundt Cake with Brown Sugar Icing

In the meantime, aren’t craving homemade chocolate cake? Just look at this!

A single slice of classic chocolate cake sitting upright on a white dessert plate.

There are just so many things to love about this cake.

Mostly the taste, of course. But, there is something undoubtedly nostalgic about it, too. It just conjures happiness and wonderful childhood memories.

It’s the perfect cake to share with the ones you love and create new memories and embrace the old ones – one delicious bite after another.

A slice of chocolate cake that has been half eaten sitting on white plate next to a glass of milk.

Ready to make a cake that grandma would be proud of? Go for it!

And when you do, be sure to take a photo of it, post it on Instagram, and tag @HowToFeedLoon and hashtag #HowToFeedaLoon!

Classic Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Cake is just a celebration of happiness. This cake is moist, but not overly dense. The icing can be made up to 3 days in advance. Keep in the fridge and then take about an hour or two before starting on the cake, it should be at room temp. Remember that your butter (for the cake) and the eggs should be at room temperature.
Print Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: easy chocolate cake recipe, how to make homemade chocolate cake
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Cooling time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 715kcal

Equipment

  • 2 9-inch cakes pans See NOTES for other options
  • Parchment paper or wax paper
  • Mixer

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • Cooking spray or softened butter, for greasing pans
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour plus a little extra for dusting the pans
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter (1½ sticks), room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • cups milk preferably whole

For the Frosting (For a 2-layered cake. Cut the recipe in half if baking in a 9x13 pan)

  • 12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips about 2 cups
  • ½ cup unsalted butter 1 stick
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • cups powdered sugar confectioners' sugar
  • toppings optional, toffee bits, milk chocolate chips, chocolate shavings

Instructions

Make the Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Spray two 9-inch cake pans with cooking spray. Use the bottom of the cake pans to draw a circle on two sheets of parchment or wax paper. Cut the circles out and place them in the cake pan. Spray again with cooking spray, including the sides of the pan. Sprinkle flour on the inside of the pans and shake off any excess. Set aside.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a large bowl (preferably in a stand mixer), beat the butter on medium speed for 30 seconds. With the motor still running, gradually add in the sugar, about ¼ cup at a time, until fully combined, stopping to scrape the bowl down a time, or two. Beat for 2 more minutes until fluffy and pale.
  • At the eggs, one at a time, waiting until fully incorporated before adding the next. Add in the vanilla and mix until combined, about 30 seconds.
  • Slowly add ⅓ of the flour mixture into the bowl with the mixer on medium-low. After fully combined, pour in half of the milk. Once combined, add another ⅓ of the flour mixture. Then the rest of the milk, and finally the last of the flour mixture. Turn the mixer on medium-high and mix for another 30 seconds.
  • Evenly pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. (If using 8-inch pans, bake for 35 to 40 minutes). Once an inserted toothpick comes out clean, remove the pans from the oven and place them on a baking rack for 10 minutes. Run a clean knife around the edges of each pan and then carefully invert the pans onto the rack. Remove the parchment (or wax) paper and let the cakes cool completely before icing (usually about 30 minutes).

Make the Frosting

  • In a medium-sized saucepan (3 to 4-quart), melt butter over medium heat. Add the chocolate chips and stir until melted and fully combined. Let cool for about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the sour cream. Gradually add the powdered sugar and use a large wooden spoon to incorporate it into the mixture. Continue stirring until smooth and all the lumps are gone (this takes a little elbow grease. You could also do this with a hand mixer on low).

Finish the Cake

  • Carefully place one of the cakes on a cake stand or dish.
  • Use a small spatula, or straight edge spreader, to apply about 1 to 2 cups of the frosting to the top of the cake (this will be the middle of the cake).
  • Carefully place the second cake on top of the frosted cake bottom. Apply the rest of the frosting to the top and sides of the cake. Use a straight-edge spreader to smooth the sides of the cake. Serve at once, or cover until ready to serve.

Notes

See the video near the top of the blog post for visual guidance. If you liked the video, please subscribe to our YouTube channel. 
The icing can be made up to 3 days in advance, (covered and chilled in the fridge). Let come to room temperature before spreading (at least an hour on the counter). 
Remember to have your butter (for the cake batter) and eggs at room temperature before you get started (this will take about 1 hour). 
Various Pan Options and Baking Times and Batter Quantities:
  • 13x9" baking pan: 7 cups of batter. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes (and cut the frosting recipe in half)
  • Bundt pan: 5 to 6 cups of batter. Bake for 4o to 45 minutes. 
  • 2½-inch cupcakes: ¼ cup of batter for each. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. 

Nutrition

Calories: 715kcal | Carbohydrates: 115g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 114mg | Sodium: 232mg | Potassium: 385mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 90g | Vitamin A: 840IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 109mg | Iron: 4mg
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