Updated: Apr 14, 2021
Chocolate cake is one of the staples when it comes to baking. Everyone that’s ever dipped their toes into baking has probably made a chocolate cake at least once. I mean it’s chocolate cake, you cannot go wrong, pretty much everyone loves it, and it’s perfect for any celebration or occasion!
The thing with baked goodies like chocolate cake is that there are as many variations as hairs on my head. And while I’ve made quite a few chocolate cakes in my experience as a baker, none of those were my own recipes, at least not entirely. So, I spent the last week trying to pinpoint the most decadent chocolate cake recipe. And, of course, it couldn’t have been a regular loaf cake or something. I took to Instagram polls and let my followers decide that the recipe should be for a two-layer chocolate cake, so that’s what this post is about.
This recipe is for the simplest, and perhaps the best ever chocolate cake. It’s straightforward, has two main components, and is incredibly delicious.
This post essentially has two recipes, one for my decadent chocolate cake and the other for my classic chocolate buttercream. Keep reading to know more!
What goes into this chocolate cake?
I’ve tried to make this recipe as accessible as possible to everyone; hence it’s an eggless recipe. I have replaced eggs with yogurt for this recipe, it’s what I do for all of my eggless cakes. It gives excellent moisture and the right amount of airiness to any cake.
Before we go further, you should note that this cake is not at all a sponge cake. It’s more towards the denser side; the cake batter almost resembles a brownie batter. But that does not mean that the cake is gonna be hard and inedible. The cake practically melts in your mouth and is so delicate and tender while being intensely chocolatey.
The ingredients you need to make the cake are — all-purpose flour, natural cocoa powder, dark chocolate (55% cocoa or more), mayonnaise*, milk, yogurt, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla extract, salt, sugar, butter, and — most importantly, coffee. Yes, coffee. Adding a dash of coffee to the chocolate cake batter, or any chocolate recipe for that matter boosts the chocolate flavor like no other. We’ll be adding very little coffee, so if you don’t like coffee, don’t worry, you won’t be able to taste it!
Another thing to keep in mind is that this recipe makes a two-layered 7-inch round cake. If you follow this recipe to the dot, you’ll get a 7-inch cake that’s about 3-inches tall. I bake mine in a seven-inch round cake pan, let it cool down, and then I slice it in half, frost it with buttercream, and so on. Suppose you’re not confident with slicing a cake. In that case, you can easily double the recipe and make two separate cakes instead of slicing one in half. But, remember that each of your layers will be thicker.
You can also bake your cake in an 8-inch or 9-inch cake pan, although in that case, you will have to double the recipe and make two cakes (or however many you want) because the layers will be thinner than a 7-inch cake.
What goes into the classic chocolate buttercream?
I make most of my buttercream recipes with butter and icing sugar in the ratio of 1:2, that’s one part butter with two parts of icing sugar. This gives me a thick, pipeable buttercream, stable for quite a bit of time, even at room temperature. But you can effortlessly smooth it down with a splash of milk or heavy cream if you want a more spreadable consistency. I would recommend adding about a tablespoon at a time until you have arrived at the desired consistency.
Coming to what’s in my classic chocolate buttercream, I use salted butter that’s been left at room temperature to become soft and icing sugar. Please do not try and powder granulated sugar to use for the buttercream. It’s still going to be grainy no matter how much you process it. I’m saying this because I’ve done it, and I regret it. So, please just get a bag of icing sugar. Apart from these two main ingredients, I use natural cocoa powder, vanilla extract, salt, and of course, coffee. This buttercream has got the right amount of sweetness (at least for me) and the right amount of chocolate flavor.
For the same reason I mentioned earlier while talking about the cake, the splash of coffee really gives a complex chocolatey flavor to this buttercream. You can also totally use a dutch processed cocoa powder instead of natural. You’ll get a much more dramatic and dark buttercream with dutch processed cocoa powder.
Now that we’ve covered buttercream and it’s ingredients, you’re probably wondering if I’ll write about how to assemble the cake. The truth is, I’m a total amateur when it comes to constructing layer cakes. This goes against the purpose of writing blog posts with my organic recipes and instructions, but I strongly recommend watching the following video if you’re interested in learning about layer cakes. 80% of what I know about layer cakes is due to this video on the Food52 Youtube channel by Erin McDowell. I more or less consider this video the reason for my cakes looking presentable.
I would also like to add another thing before moving further, this recipe is super adaptable and versatile. You don’t need to make both the frosting and cake together; you can break the two up and use them with different recipes. You can also throw mix-ins into the cake or add exciting fillings in the middle of your cake layers! Go crazy, there’s no limit to how you can transform a simple chocolate cake recipe.
What equipment do I need to make the cake, buttercream, and for its assembly?
You will need a simple wire whisk, two mixing bowls, and a rubber spatula to make the cake. You’ll be baking it in a 7-inch round cake pan. You will also need some parchment paper. [Check notes if you want to make this cake in different pans]
You will need an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer and two large mixing bowls for the chocolate buttercream. I wouldn’t recommend doing this by hand. Keep a rubber spatula or a spoon handy while making the buttercream.
I’d recommend having a cake turntable or at least a cake stand for the assembly of the cake. Cake turntables are reasonably inexpensive and are readily available online or in baking supply stores. You will also need an offset spatula or a spoon if you don’t have one/don’t want to buy an offset spatula. I’ve tried to keep this recipe as simple as possible, so I won’t ask you to get piping bags, but if you want to, you can totally use some.
The recipe for the best ever chocolate cake
Cake - 1 hour
Frosting - 20 minutes
Chilling and assembly - 4 hours or overnight
Yields: One 7-inch double layer cake
60 grams (½ cup) dark chocolate
45 grams (3 tablespoons) milk
5 grams (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract
10 grams (2 teaspoons) boiling water
5 grams (1 teaspoon) strong instant coffee or espresso powder
40 grams (3 tablespoons) mayonnaise*
150 grams (½ cup) yogurt
2 grams (½ teaspoon) baking soda
150 grams (1 ¼ cup) caster sugar
112 grams (½ cup) melted salted butter (I use Amul)
25 grams (3 ¼ tablespoons) natural cocoa powder
188 grams (1 ½ cup) all-purpose flour
6 grams (1 ½ teaspoon) baking powder
2 grams (½ teaspoon) fine salt
350 grams (1 ½ cups) softened salted butter (I use Amul)
700 grams (5 ½ cups) icing sugar
2 grams (½ teaspoon) fine salt
45 grams (6 tablespoons) natural cocoa powder
5 grams (1 teaspoon) hot water
8 grams (2 teaspoons) strong coffee powder
5 grams (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract
Room temperature milk or heavy cream (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Grease a 7-inch round cake pan and line it with parchment paper; grease the top of the parchment too. Dust the pan with cocoa powder.
Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave for 1 minute, stirring halfway through. Stir until you have a smooth mixture.
Mix the melted chocolate with the milk and vanilla extract. Set the chocolate mixture aside.
Also, mix the boiling water and coffee powder together, and set it aside.
In a mixing bowl, add the caster sugar and butter and whisk until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the yogurt and baking soda and whisk until you see bubbles.
Whisk in the chocolate mixture, followed by the coffee.
Add the mayonnaise into the wet ingredients, and mix well.*
In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and incorporate the two gently with a spatula.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly with the spatula.
Bake the cake at 180°C for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted inside, comes out clean.
Let the cake sit in the pan for 5-7 minutes before carefully flipping it onto a wire rack.
Let the cake cool down completely for 1 hour on the wire rack, then wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or overnight.
Mix the hot water and coffee powder and let it come down to room temperature.
To make the frosting, beat the softened butter in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer until it’s creamy.
In a separate mixing bowl, sift the icing sugar and salt until there are no lumps left. In a separate smaller bowl, sift the cocoa powder as well.
Beat the butter and icing sugar at low speed by adding 1 cup of the icing sugar at a time. Add the vanilla extract and coffee too.
Continue scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula while beating in the icing sugar.
Gradually add the cocoa powder and continue making the frosting while scraping down the sides of the bowl.
Once you have achieved a smooth and creamy consistency, stop mixing.
If you want a more spreadable frosting, add a tablespoon of heavy cream or milk at a time and incorporate it using the mixer at a low speed.
Place the chilled cake on a cake stand or a turntable and carefully slice it into two.
Place one half back on the cake stand, the cut side facing upwards.
Grab roughly 1 cup of the frosting, dollop it on the cake, and spread it evenly on the surface with an offset spatula.
Place the other half of the cake on top (you can place the flatter side facing upwards) and cover the sides and top of the cake with more frosting to seal in any and all loose crumbs.
Chill the crumb-coated cake in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
Use the remaining frosting to decorate the cake however you like.
Refrigerate the cake until you’re ready to serve.
The recipe can also be used to make a loaf cake. Use a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan and bake the cake at 180°C for 45-50 minutes.
If you’re using a larger round cake pan, like an 8-inch or a 9-inch, check the cake’s doneness at the 30-minute mark. Bake for a few more minutes if required.
I wouldn’t recommend using a round cake pan smaller than 7-inches simply because the batter wouldn’t fit in it, and you’d have to make two cakes instead of one.
You will most likely have leftover buttercream. You can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator or the freezer, depending on the proximity of your next use for it.
*Upon making this recipe again and again, I found out that adding a little bit of mayonnaise adds to the moistness of the cake. I have edited the recipe to add the mayonnaise part to it. And, don't worry, you won't taste it at all!