Simply Perfect Chocolate Cake

This is THE BEST chocolate cake recipe out there!  Easy, one-bowl recipe, moist and melt-in-your-mouth, with tons of deep chocolate flavor! 

This is something I have been meaning to share for a long time!  My chocolate cupcake recipe is one of the top posts on this site, and readers are always asking me if it can be done as a cake too.  So here it is (finally!): Simply Perfect Chocolate Cake.

I posted the cupcake version of this chocolate cake years ago.  I remember it took me like three or four tries (maybe even five!) before those cupcakes tasted the way I wanted.  There was a laundry list of “musts” in my mind for that recipe.  And I was not going to rest until I could check off each and every one.
Well, my hard work paid off because that is one of the most popular recipes on my site to this day.  There are tons of comments on it, from readers who tried and and LOVED it.  Many of them say it’s the only chocolate cake they will ever make again!  I’m super proud of it, and I’ve used it as a base as a lot of other recipes since.  They all get the same kind of overwhelmingly positive response.

But I figured it was time I just gave it the classic chocolate layer cake treatment.  It is my favorite, after all, and I’m sure it probably will be for you too.  Here’s another laundry list with all the reasons why:
  • The batter is really easy to make and hard to mess up:  It uses the reverse-creaming method, which I love because it means you only have to dirty up one bowl!
  • The batter is really thick and almost mousse-like:  One of my pet peeves is a drippy chocolate cake batter that leaves a big mess all over your counter.  This is thick and gorgeous, and you’ll have to stop yourself from eating it straight from the bowl!
  • The texture is tender: it’s  fluffy but not so soft that it can’t stand up to a generous layer of buttercream.
  • It bakes up nice and moist: I’m including an extra step here to make it even more moist!  It’s optional, but if you really like an extra-moist cake, you should definitely give it a try!
  • The flavor is SUPER chocolate-y: I have another pet peeve and that is chocolate desserts that don’t taste all that chocolate-y.  This chocolate cake recipe is made with cocoa, so it has the deepest, richest chocolate taste you can get.  Any time you’re baking a dessert that wants to taste extra-chocolate-y, it’s cocoa you want!  That’s where all the flavor is at, and you can read more about it here and here.
  • The frosting will blow you away: It’s Swiss buttercream.  Have you ever had it before?  The first time I made it was life changing.  That one simple step of melting the sugar with egg whites and whipping them nice and fluffy is EVERYTHING!  You will not be able to get over the light, silky texture and buttery richness.
So, next time you have a special occasion give this chocolate cake recipe a try, and let me know what you think!

Simply Perfect Chocolate Cake

This is THE BEST chocolate cake recipe out there! Easy, one-bowl recipe, moist and melt-in-your-mouth, with tons of deep chocolate flavor!


For the chocolate cake layers:

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup cake flour

  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the cocoa simple syrup (optional):

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1/2 cup water

For the chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream:

  • 6 large egg whites

  • 2 cups granulated sugar

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, softened but still cool

  • 10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons water

  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


To make the chocolate cake layers:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Generously mist three 8-inch diameter by 3-inch high cake pans with non-stick spray, and line with circles cut from parchment paper.

  2. Place the sugar, flours, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl, and whisk to combine.  Cut the butter into smaller pieces and add it to the dry ingredients.  Mix on low speed until the mixture resembles damp sand (30 seconds to a minute).  Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula after each addition.  When all of the eggs are fully incorporated, add the Greek yogurt or sour cream and vanilla, and beat on medium speed for about 60 to 90 seconds, to aerate the batter and strengthen the cake's structure.

  3. Divide the batter evenly between the three prepared pans, and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the thickest part of the cake comes out clean or with one or two moist crumbs.  Cool completely, then soak with cocoa simple syrup (optional)  and fill and frost with chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream.

To make the cocoa simple syrup (optional):

  1. Place the sugar and cocoa powder in a small pot and whisk to combine.  Stir in the water and place over medium heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally,  until all the sugar has dissolved.

  2. Place one cake layer on a serving platter.  Use a pastry brush to soak the cake with the simple syrup before topping with chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream.  Repeat as you add each layer.

To make the chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream:

  1. Place the egg whites and sugar in a large mixing bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Cook, whisking occasionally, until the mixture is smooth, thin, and translucent, and it no longer feels gritty when rubbed between the thumb and forefinger.  Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk on medium-high speed until fluffy and stiff, and no hint of warmth remains when you place your hand on the side of the bowl.

  2. Add the butter, a tablespoon at a time, whipping after each addition.  If the mixture looks curdled, whip on high speed until it becomes smooth, then continue adding the butter one tablespoon at a time.  If the mixture seems runny, place it in the refrigerator for 10 to 20 minutes, then re-whip.  When all the butter has been added and the mixture is fluffy and spreadable, stir in the melted chocolate.  Stir the water, cocoa, vanilla, and salt together in a small bowl, then add to the buttercream, stirring until completely incorporated.


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