The Classics – Chocolate Cake

This is the fifth chocolate cake recipe I am sharing on Chasing Delicious. Somehow though this is only the first time I am sharing a bare-bones, grandma-use-to-make-this, classic chocolate cake, a staple in any kitchen hosting a celebration. That’s exactly what my kitchen was doing this week. Not only did I turn twenty-six, but Chasing Delicious turned two and Rambunctious House (the company I’m starting with my longtime best friend Alicia) opened its doors all on the same day, May first! Since I share my birthday with this blog and my company – not to mention a holiday that involves dancing around a pole or protesting -, a crumb-licking celebration was in order to mark the occasion. Cue the chocolate cake.

I have three rules about chocolate cake: 1. It should be easy, 2. It should never look perfect, and 3. Chocolate cake should be so good that you want a second slice, but so chocolaty and rich that you don’t dare take a second slice. This cake is just that, a pretentious-free, no-fuss, chocolate cake worthy of any celebration – or any other day for that matter.

Chocolate Cake: To me, there are three elements essential to a delicious classic chocolate cake: a dense and moist texture (or the crumb), rich chocolate flavor and lots of frosting.

Texture/Crumb: A big part of what makes a great chocolate cake is the dense, crumbly, moist crumb and texture that accompanies the chocolate flavor. This is achieved with a very high-ratio of liquid ingredients to dry ingredients, using a take on the muffin mixing method, and a quick mixing process – care should be taken not to over mix the batter. As with any baked good, you should check the cake a few minutes before it is due to finish as nothing can turn a great chocolate cake into a subpar cake quicker than over baking.

Flavor: To get that bold chocolate flavor, I like using freshly brewed coffee – brewed just as if you were going to drink it. Using coffee in chocolate cake does not give the cake a coffee or mocha flavor, rather it intensifies the chocolate flavor. This is possible because coffee has the same flavor profile as chocolate, but is less dominant than cocoa, so adding it helps your tastebuds pick up on the chocolate notes. Since chocolate is the star here, I suggest using a very good quality chocolate.

Frosting: While I am not a big fan of cakes with lots of frosting, I love my chocolate cake with lots of frosting. Not only does the light, fluffy texture juxtapose the dense, moist cake wonderfully but chocolate buttercream is just sweet enough that it doesn’t become cloy. To keep the frosting from becoming too sweet, I suggest using bittersweet chocolate or a darker chocolate.


Classic Chocolate Cake

Difficulty: Easy
 1, 8″ layer cake
Prep Time:  10 minutes
Bake Time: 35-40 minutes

2, 8″ round cake pans
Parchment paper
Large Bowls
Fine mesh sieve
Icing spatulas


8 ounces flour
1 pound sugar
3 ounces cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup freshly brewed coffee, hot

2 pounds chocolate buttercream frosting (recipe below)


1. Preheat an oven to 350°F. Prepare the two baking pans by buttering them, lining the bottom with parchment paper, buttering the paper, then dusting the pans with flour. Set aside.

2. Sift together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda & salt). Set aside.

2. Mix the eggs for about a minute until broken a part. Add the cream, sour cream and melted butter and mix until homogenous.

3. Pour the egg cream and butter mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until a batter forms.

4. Add the vanilla and hot coffee to the batter and mix in until homogenous.

5. Evenly distribute the batter into the two prepared cake pans.

6. Bake in a preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out just barely clean (a few straggling crumbs is ok).

7. Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting them. Place one layer on a cake stand or plate. Add a liberal helping of frosting to the top and spread out evenly to the edges of the cake. Carefully place the second layer of cake onto of the frosting. Since these cakes are incredibly crumbly, I suggest adding a layer of dirty icing before completely frosting the cake – to do this spread a very thin layer, gently, on the cake (top and sides), just enough to cover the cake and loose crumbs, and refrigerate until stiff, about 10 to 20 minutes. Once  the dirty icing is stiff, frost the rest of the cake like you normally would any other cake.


Chocolate Buttercream

Difficulty: Easy
 2 pounds 12 ounces (enough for 1, 8″ layer cake)
Prep Time:  20 minutes

Double Boiler
Wooden spoon
Standmixer or hand mixer


12 ounces chocolate (dark, semisweet or bittersweet)
1 pound unsalted butter, at room temp.
1 pound powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla


1. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler until the chocolate is completely melted. Set aside.

2. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, cream the butter until it is light and fluffy. Add the sugar and vanilla and mix until a thick frosting begins to form.

3. Add the chocolate to the frosting and mix until it is completely combined on a medium-low speed. You may need to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to ensure the chocolate is completely mixed in.

4. Set aside until ready to use.





AUTHOR - Russell van Kraayenburg

Founder of Chasing Delicious, and author of Haute Dogs, Russell's works have been featured in Southern Living, Men's Fitness, Redbook, TRADHome, and Real Simple magazines and on various sites including Lifehacker, Fast Co., Business Insider, The Kitchn, Live Originally, Quipsologies, Explore, and Fine Cooking. Follow Russell on Twitter @rvank and Instagram. Get more delicious @chasedelicious.


  • Bianca @ Sweet Dreaming

    Happy birthday and congrats on two years! My favorite kind of cake is chocolate on chocolate, and this looks absolutely divine :) Nice video!

  • Amanda

    I adore everything about this. But #2… that makes me SO happy. YES!!!!

  • TidyMom

    Wow Russell! Congrats and I hope you had a wonderful birthday! That video was SO cool! I’m in love with all your creativity!

  • Angela @ the fairy bread chronicles


    I agree totally with your chocolate cake rules. Chocolate cake really is the undisputed king of desserts… it may get neglected because of all the fanciness people try to do nowadays, but it really has withstood the test of time.

    HB as well!

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food

    Happy 2nd Blog Birthday! And congrats on opening the doors of your company! So exciting! Ok… now, onto the cake! I’m just about to watch the video. I know it’ll be awesome.

  • Jen @ Juanita's Cocina

    My son has been begging for a chocolate birthday cake. And my wife has been begging me for chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. THIS is it. We all just sat here wide-eyed staring at your gorg video!

    Happy blogiversary, happy birthday, and congrats on your company!

  • Jennifer (Delicieux)

    Congratulations Russell!! Happy birthday. What a busy day for you and chocolate is the perfect way to celebrate. I’d love a slice of this right now even though it’s only breakfast time here :D

  • The Culinary Chase

    Gorgeous! I love a good recipe for chocolate cake and this one I need to try. Congrats and Cheers!

  • Jeanette

    Wow, you have a lot to celebrate – congratulations and Happy Birthday!!!

  • Meki

    You’re right about being easy and should not be perfect! I love your three rules + I’d love to try this recipe!

  • Miriam @ Overtime Cook

    Happy birthday! Congrats on two years, and on your company. :)

  • Sandy @ tinytinyfork

    Russell– that video was (for lack of a less-cheesy phrase). So exciting a new year for you, the site, and a new endeavor! I actually work in media currently and am super excited to hear more about what is to come with Rambunctious House! :)

  • Jeanette

    Russell, forgot to mention how beautifully done your video is – you are such a creative talent!

  • Richa@HobbyandMore

    Happy Birthday and congratulations.. the video is fantastic.! and the cake gorgeous!

  • Jiric

    Happy Birthday Chasing Delicious! I just baked a chocolate cake yesterday and I’m gonna bake again with your recipe~

  • Reem | Simply Reem

    Happy Birthday!!!!!!!
    I love the cake… beautiful and gorgeous…
    Trust me there is never like too many chocolate cakes so stop counting and keep posting…
    B/w I love the video, would it be too much to ask for more video’s…

  • joy

    this looks absolutely divine!

  • Tesei

    So not only you bake, cook, make lovely pictures, but you also edit beautifully. Great video, congratulations!

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

    I am in love with this. You said it – just like Grandma used to make. I have to disagree with you on one point though, this certainly DOES look perfect. Kind of like how messy buns on girls look fabulous a lot of the time but are supposed to look just thrown together. You always make my favorite cakes :)

  • Gary

    Love love love the video!

  • Magda

    I’m very new to your blog and I absolutely love it.
    Congrats on the two years of blogging and the start up of your new company.
    Happy birthday as well.

    I really liked your video, the pace, the music and of course, the chocolate cake!

  • Julia

    Three times gratulation! Your chocolate cake looks so similar to the one my mother used to make for my birthday! So, thanks for the moemories you activated in my mind!

  • Karen @ superfinefeline

    Happy Birthday! Congratulations on your new company and 2 years of blogging with many more years to come! Thank you for sharing this recipe. I will try to make it even though I have had quite a few failed attempts at baking. Keep em coming!

  • Flavia S.

    Congratulations on the new business venture and happy birthday (to you and your blog)! So many exciting milestones for you and they are very well deserved. I wish you all the best and here’s hoping we can meet in person someday soon (since we’re practically next-door neighbors by Houston standards). ;)

  • Marina {}

    That cake looks like pure dark chocolaty awesomeness. I totally agree with you on using coffee in chocolate cakes. My favorite chocolate cake recipe so far is an Ina Garten one and it does use freshly brewed coffee.

    You are so amazing with your photography/video skills. I have a major blog crush :D

  • brighteyedbaker

    This sounds (and looks) exactly like my kind of cake. Chocolate is my favorite, but it MUST be dense and moist and chocolate-y and there MUST be lots of frosting, but not the sickly sweet kind. I’ll be keeping this on my mind for the next time I have an excuse to make cake. Happy Birthday to you and your blog :)

  • Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen

    Now that’s a celebration cake!! Dense, rich and chocolatey.

  • Amrita

    I love your photography. And seriously, no amount of talking about chocolate cake is ever enough.

  • Hallie

    I was looking for a cake for my birthday, with the idea of making a chocolate cake with several layers. I think I found it! this one is exactly this idea I had in mind! thanks for sharing it!

  • missy

    Oh my heavens. This is an amazing recipe. It looks so rick and reminds me of childhood birthdays!! Lovely!

  • Amy @ FragrantVanillaCake

    Happy Birthday Russell! This cake looks amazing and so perfect for the celebration of your Birthday! It is THE standard for perfect chocolate cake!

  • kitchenriffs

    Happy Birthday to you and your blog, and congrats on your new company! Exciting news, and thanks for sharing with us. And the cake? Sometimes simple is best, particularly when it comes to chocolate. It’s got enough flavor to dominate anything, so although it’s fun to gussy it up, a straightforward presentation is just fine in my book. Thanks for this.

  • Sommer@ASpicyPerspective

    Russel, LOVE the 3 rules–especially 2 and 3. A good classic chocolate cake recipe is a MUST HAVE. This looks sensational.

  • Lori @ RecipeGirl

    That’s some good lookin’ chocolate cake- and great job w/ the video too!!

  • Rosendo Hurtado

    Gracias por la receta! Me ha encantado!

  • Lauren C.

    Happy birthday and congrats on the new launch! You and Alicia are so stinkin’ talented. Can’t wait to see what you two come up with!

  • Sharyn Dimmick

    Happy Birthday to you and the blog. Chocolate cake is one of those things that suckers me in — it always looks better than it tastes and I end up just eating the chocolate buttercream. Yours looks gorgeous with the swirled frosting, but I will not be fooled…

  • christina @ ovenadventures

    i want a slice right now with my coffee. cake for breakfast is NOT wrong. I just discovered my love for really good chocolate cake.

  • thelittleloaf

    What a wonderful birthday cake! This looks like my kind of chocolate cake – no pretensions, lots of lovely icing and a beautifully moist crumb. Perfect.

  • Jen @ Jen's Favorite Cookies

    I completely agree with you about the chocolate cake rules! It’s really hard to beat a basic chocolate cake like grandma made. We have a family recipe we use, but I can’t wait to try yours! Happy Birthday!

  • Stephanie

    Happy Birthday to you and your blog! I recently turned 26 and my blog turned two around the same time as well. It is an excellent year to be a 26 year old with a 2 year old blog.. an excellent year indeed. That cake looks amazing.

  • KitchenSisters

    Congratulations! This cake looks amazing! I love chocolate cakes and this one looks like it tastes very good..
    You have a wonderful blog! Delicious recipes, beautiful pictures and nice stories! I’m looking forward to you next posts!

  • Diane {Created by Diane}

    wonderful and now I’ll be thinking about this chocolate cake all day, why aren’t we neighbors? I do dishes, did I mention that :)

  • Winnie

    Happy Everything Russell! Amazing AMAZING cake ;)

  • Jenelle

    Congratulations and Happy Birthday! I can’t wait to make your chocolate cake! I need a glass of milk just looking at it!

  • Kristen

    Absolute perfect – my favorite chocolate cake recipe has coffee in it too. This is making me really want a slice – chocolate cake is my weakness.
    Love the video too!

  • Kathy - Panini Happy

    Congrats on all fronts! And what a fabulous cake to celebrate!

  • Kathy - Panini Happy

    I forgot to mention…that was such a gorgeous video!

  • Michael

    I don’t know where you got this recipe, but I have never seen anything like it. No buttermilk, The batter must be really thick. Very interesting. Btw, nice site, I can tell you really planned the fresh and clean look

  • JulieD

    Congrats!! Happy late birthday and love this cake!! I completely agree with you about adding coffee to the chocolate cake. For non-coffee drinkers, I’m always trying to convince them that it won’t taste like coffee!

  • Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch

    Happy birthday, Russell! Congratulations and I am now craving a slice of that cake with a big glass of cold milk. I’ll be dreaming of it, I feel sure!

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  • Roxana GreenGirl { A little bit of everything}

    Happy anniversary to Chasing Delicious! What a beautiful cake to celebrate your birthday, your blog’s anniversary and the opening of your business.
    Can’t wait to see what deliciousness you’re going to share with us in the future

  • Christina

    HELP! I attempted to make these cakes tonight and I followed the directions to a tee and they are gooing over the top of the cake pans, I used the 8 inch rounds and they are overflowing and I know the tops are going to be deformed and spill over like muffin tops, any advice on where I went wrong?

  • Ajda

    This cake looks delicious, I can’t wait to give it a try! Maybe even tonight! I will replace buttercream with ganache though. This has been my favorite chocolate cake for a while now: , but always looking for the ultimate recipe! Happy birthday!

  • Kiran @

    Happy Birthday and Blogiversary!!! Enjoyed the video so much :)

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  • Willa

    Question – your cake looks PERFECT. Do you think this could become cupcakes? Would the frosting to cake ratio still be possible? Would it lose all its charm? And, if it were cupcakes, any guesses on how long to bake it?

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  • cc11

    Double congratulations! And ‘rambunctious’ is actually one of my favourite words, I am always calling my daughter that, so love the name!

  • Rima of

    Good Lord. That cake looks scrumptious!!! and I love that you don’t care of making a mess in the kitchen. yay!

  • Helena / Rico sin Azúcar

    Absolutely amazing, Russell!!!! The best chocolate cake I’ve seen for a long time! I agree: chocolate cakes are best with tones of frosting :-D

    Happy birthday and thanks for the recipe!


    Waah, LOVELY!!!

  • Anis

    Hi, i have just made that cake for a party, and i only used half of the frosting, because it looked really fat, however, this baking session was a succes and the cake was just delicious !

    • Russell

      I’m so glad you liked it! Thanks for letting me know : )

  • Mae

    Do yu have to put the coffee in?

    • Russell

      The coffee is used to bring out the flavor of the chocolate (I explain a bit about the science behind this above). You can substitute water or another liquid if you’d like. Make sure to keep the amount of liquid put into the cake the same though.

  • N

    Did you use cake flour or AP Flour?
    If you used AP flour, was it bleached or unbleached?

  • Farah

    OMG!!!! I LOVE, LOVE this video and i can’t wait to bake this cake. I am a huge fan of chocolate cake!!!!

    PS hope you had a great birthday!

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  • riley m

    I made this cake this week for a birthday and it was a solid hit. I followed your directions word for word and it turned out AMAZING. I did have extra frosting, but I could have piled it on. This may be the perfect cake, seriously. I stored it in the fridge for about 18 hours but had it at room temp for 2-3 hours before serving. The texture was incredible. THANK YOU!!

    • Russell

      I am so happy to hear this! You just made my day. So glad you liked it : )

  • Jeannie

    I made this for my boyfriend’s sister on her birthday. It was my first chocolate cake ever and it turned out perfectly. I used every drop of the frosting. I just slathered the cake with it, at least what was left over after everyone stopped “tasting” it. Thank you so much for sharing!!!

  • Gracie


    I just finished making this cake, but my frosting didn’t come out as thick as yours. What do you think that is? I added all the ingredients in the given amounts but it is more ‘liquidy’. Other than that the cake was very easy to make! Can’t wait to take a bite, it smells delicious!

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    Everyone wants to leave out these steps, but the payoff for such patience is a perfectly mixed batter.

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  • Kathy

    I have a thousand chocolate cake recipes because… Well, why wouldn’t you… Anyway, I MUST have this one too. Thank you! Can you tell me offhand how many cups of flour and sugar this uses? Instead of ounces and pounds?

  • Leslie

    This cake looks amazing! I’m hoping to make it to take to a friend’s for dinner but she’s gluten-free — any suggestions on how to make that work?

  • Jocelyn

    Adore this recipe and would love to try! One thing, though: I don’t like the taste of coffee very much, so is it OK if I leave the cup of coffee out or would that ruin the cake? Or can I substitute the coffee?

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    Thanks Russell for sharing this wonderful cake and hope this cake taste will be very tasty and again thank you for share this cake recipe.

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