Easy Chocolate Cake Recipe

I’ve been using this Easy Chocolate Cake recipe for years. This easy moist chocolate cake is a crowd pleaser. Use it to make a celebration birthday cake or a quick sheet cake for a weeknight dessert.

Cut cake showing cake layers.


This simple chocolate cake pairs nicely with fruit, whipped cream, Swiss buttercream, cream cheese frosting, fruit fillings, chocolate ganache, peanut butter filling, fresh fruit and much more. Possibilities are endless. Here are 3 cakes I’ve made recently with this moist easy cocoa chocolate cake recipe.

Cakes cut showing cake layers.
Three cut cakes showing cake layers.


  • All-purpose flour
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Baking Powder
  • Baking Soda
  • Salt
  • Cocoa Powder, natural or Dutch processed
  • Buttermilk
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Almond Extract
  • Espresso Powder/Granules
  • Boiling Hot Water (or hot coffee)
Ingredients for a cake on a kitchen counter.


This simple chocolate cake recipe makes 4 – 6 inch cakes or 2- 8/9 inch cakes.

Prepare baking pans by greasing them with butter or use a baking spray with flour. Also, don’t forget to line the bottom of each cake pan with a parchment paper round.

Baking pans sprayed with a baking spray.


Into a bowl sift all purpose flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda and unsweetened cocoa powder. Whisk or mix with a hand held mixer until well combined.

TIP : Weigh the bowl you are using and take a note of it. Deduct the bowl weight from the total weight of the batter and bowl to get the accurate weight of the batter. Then you can divide it by the number of baking pans using and divide cake batter evenly into baking pans.

Mixing dry cake ingredients in a large bowl.


This beginner chocolate cake is made with buttermilk. If you don’t have buttermilk no need to panic. For this simple cake recipe and for many other recipes you can use one of these 6 Buttermilk Substitutes and use them in baking.

QUICK HOMEMADE BUTTERMILK  : into a bowl pour 1 cup and ½ cup room temperature milk. Remove 1 tbsp and 1/2 tbsp of milk and replace it with vinegar or lemon juice. Stir and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Stir and use in the recipe.

TIP: Do you have a dairy allergy? Use water or almond milk in place of milk.

Into a bowl pour buttermilk, oil, room temperature egg, Vanilla and Almond extracts. Whisk well until combined.

Mixing wet cake ingredients in a bowl.


Into the dry ingredients pour all of the wet ingredients. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes until well blended together and homogeneous.

Beating wet cake ingredients into dry ingredients with a hand held mixer.


Coffee is often added to chocolate desserts to enhance chocolate flavor.

Dissolve coffee granules or espresso powder in boiling hot water. Gradually pour hot coffee into the cake batter while mixing on low speed. Scrape down the bowl couple of times. Be sure to get to the bottom of the bowl, where sometime thick cake batter sticks to the bowl. Mix until all is well combined. This chocolate cake batter thin.

TIP: If you are allergic to coffee you can skip it. And if you don’t have an instant espresso use freshly brewed coffee instead.

Dissolving coffee powder in hot water and mixing it into a cake batter..


I like to weight my cake batter and divide it evenly into prepared cake pans. Put the bowl with cake batter on the scale and deduct the bowl weight to get a net cake batter weight. Divide net cake batter weight by 4 and pour cake batter into prepared pans, weighing each pan on a scale.

TIP: This recipe fills 4 – 6 inch cake pans or  2 – 8/9 inch cake pans.

Bowl with cake batter on a kitchen scale.


Bake the cakes at 350F. When baking 4 – 6 inch cake pans I place 2 on the top rack(2/3) and 2 on the bottom (1/3). I quickly rotate them at 30 minute mark and I bake them for additional 20-25 minutes. Total baking time is about 50-55 minutes. Until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

TIP: In case your cakes are browning a little too much on the top, form a dome with aluminum foil and loosely cover cakes. You can do this once the cakes are risen not when they’re still in the cake batter stage.

Cake pans filled with cake batter.


Let the cakes cool for 20-30 minutes after removing them from the oven. Carefully remove baked cakes from the pans. Peel off the parchment round if it’s sticking to the cake. Wrap slightly warm cakes into food wrap or into plastic food safe bags and let cool completely before using. Wrapping them while they are still warm keeps the cakes super moist and delicious.

Removing cake from a cake pan.


Absolutely. Wrap the cakes well into a food wrap and place them into Ziploc bags. Freeze for up to 3 months. Allow to defrost overnight before filling and frosting the cake.

Chocolate cake on a cooling rack.


  • This easy homemade chocolate cake bakes with a slight dome. You’ll need to trim the top before filling a layered cake.
  • In case your cakes are browning a little too much on the top, form a dome with aluminum foil and loosely cover cakes. You can do this once the cakes are risen not when they’re still in the cake batter stage.
  • Do you have a dairy allergy? Use water or almond milk in place of milk.
  • To keep the cake moist even for longer you can use simply syrup. When you make simple syrup be sure to flavor it. Use coffee, extracts and other flavorings to give your cake unique flavor.
  • My easy chocolate cake recipe is great for making layered cakes. However I wouldn’t recommend it for fondant covered cakes.
  • This cakes is best with Swiss Buttercream, Whipped Cream, Cream Cheese Frosting, Ganache, Fruit Filling, Chestnut filling, Raspberry Curd or German Buttercream .
Trimming the top of the cake.


  • If you’re allergic to dairy you can use dairy free buttermilk made with almond, oat milk, for example.
  • Or in place of milk use room temperature water, don’t forget to add vinegar.


  • Find all the tools you need in my Amazon Shop
  • Cake Pans
  • Hand Held Mixer
  • Parchment
  • Spatula
  • Whisk
Cut cake showing cake layers.
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5 from 1 vote

Chocolate Cake

Easy, deliciously moist chocolate cake recipe.
cake batter fills 4 – 6 inch cake pans (cake layers are about 1 3/4 inch to 2 inches tall when top is trimmed)
And it also fills 2- 8/9 inch cake pans.
Course Cake, Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword chocolate cake recipe, chocolate cake roll
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Servings 15
Author Hani



  • 3 cups granulated sugar (600 grams)
  • 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (395grams)
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (100 grams)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature (360ml)
  • 2/3 cup oil (160ml)
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 tsp Almond Extract
  • 1 to 2 tbsp Espresso Powder
  • 1 1/2 cup boiling water ( 360 ml)



    Prepare Baking Pans

    • Preheat oven to 350F. Spray 4 – 6 inch cake pans with a non stick spray. Line the bottom with a parchment round. Spray again with a non stick spray with flour. Or butter and dust pans with flour. Shake out excess flour and set aside.
      TIP : Or use 2 – 8/9 inch cake pans.

    Cake Batter

    • In a large bowl sift flour (2 cups and 3/4cup), granulated sugar (3 cups), unsweetened cocoa powder (1 cup), baking soda (2 tsp), baking powder (2 and 1/4 tsp), and table salt (1 tsp). Set aside.
    • In another bowl whisk together eggs (4 large eggs at room temperature), buttermilk ( 1 cup and 1/2 cup), oil (2/3 cup), Vanilla Extract (1 tbsp), Almond Extract (1/2 tsp).
      TIP : Make your own buttermilk : measure 1 1/2 cup milk into a bowl, remove 1 tbsp and 1/2 tbsp milk and replace it with lemon juice or white distilled vinegar. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.
    • Bring water (1 cup and 1/2 cup) to boil, whisk in espresso powder (1 to 2 tbsp).
    • Pour wet ingredients (egg mixture, not boiling water) into dry ingredients and beat with a hand held mixer for about 3 minutes, until well combined. Then gradually using medium speed beat in boiling hot water mixed with espresso powder. Mixture will be fluid and it will appear runnier than other cake batters. This is normal.
    • Divide cake batter into prepared cake pans.

    Bake Chocolate Cakes

    • Bake at 350F. Bake 2 pans on the top oven rack (about 2/3) and 2 cake pans on the bottom rack (1/3). Bake for 30 minutes, then rotate pans. Bottom ones to the top rack and top one to the bottom rack and continue baking for additional 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
    • Remove baked cake from the oven and let cool for 20-25 minutes. Then run a dull knife along the edges and carefully invert cakes onto a cooling rack. Let cool for 20 more minutes. When cakes are lukewarm, wrap or cover cakes into plastic wrap or place them into ziploc bags. Let cool completely. Cakes stay soft and moist.


    • I DON’T HAVE BUTTERMILK WHAT NOW? Make your own: measure 1 1/2 cup milk into a bowl, remove 1 tbsp and 1/2 tbsp milk, and replace it with lemon juice or white distilled vinegar. Let it sit for 5 minutes, and whisk well. If you don’t have lemon juice or vinegar you can use one of these 6 Homemade Buttermilk Substitutes.
    • CAN YOU TASTE the COFFEE IN THE CAKE? I can’t taste it.
    • WHY DO YOU USE COFFEE IN THE CHOCOLATE CAKE? Coffee brings out the chocolate flavor. You can’t really taste it in the baked cake.
    • I CAN’T HAVE COFFEE, CAN I SKIP IT? Yes, you can skip it. 

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      1. Hello,
        It’s actually not off. It’s correct.
        When I fill 1 cup (236ml to 240ml) measure it weighs 140-143 grams.

        America’s Test Kitchen also uses 1cup=142grams.
        I understand that this is not the mainstream cup to grams flour conversion, but this
        is the measurement I’ve been successfully using for many years. I follow my scale reading.

      1. Hi John,
        I’d use 1 1/2 batter to make 10-inch square cake, if possible
        use a heating core for even heat distribution. I use a flour nail greased and dusted with flour.

      1. Hello,
        I’ve used this recipe to make tall cakes – 8 inch tall, filled and frosted with swiss buttercream, but I haven’t tried to make 2 or 3 tiered cakes.

    1. Hello, I’ve just made this cake, I halved the recipe and used 2x 8 inch tins. It smells divine but sponges haven’t really risen apart from the dome? I checked it with the toothpick and it was definitely baked but feels a bit heavy/claggy. What could have gone wrong?

      1. Hello Alicja,
        have you tried cutting the cake to see the texture inside? I’m curious if leavening agents were fresh.
        Please keep me posted. Hani

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