The Classics: Chocolate Cake


This, my pretties, is not a new recipe.  It may even be familiar to you A & O faithful.  But because I use it at least once a month and because my last photo was heinous and failed to showcase the pools of fudgy frosting I adore, I’m sharing this with you once again.  It makes 48 mini cupcakes, 24 regular-sized and 1 9-inch round cake with batter left over (or 1 9-inch plus a 6-inch round cake for a two-layer chocolate cakeaganza).  It goes gluten free without a hitch.  Flexibility is part of its charm.

Our pal Beth photographed my last batch with blue sprinkles.  Tonight I’m topping them with orange sprinkles and little white ghosts for a Halloween-themed progressive dinner.  I’ll also be serving some of Ina’s blood-red velvet minis.  The recipe’s in her new cookbook.

You need this and one good flourless chocolate cake recipe and you’re good-to-go chocolate-wise for life.


Buttermilk Chocolate Cake


2 sticks unsalted butter

1/2 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder (I like Droste or Green & Black)

1 cup water

2 cups AP flour (or gluten-free equivalent)

2 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup buttermilk

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (for the gluten-free version, I use 2 teaspoon vanilla extract and a tablespoon of espresso to cover the chickpea flavor of the gluten-free flour.  You can add espresso to the traditional recipe as well)


1/2 stick unsalted butter

1/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder (I like Droste or Green & Black)

3 tablespoons buttermilk

2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

you can also add 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or other nuts to the frosting if desired.

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Butter and flour the cake pan of your choice or line your cupcake tins.

2. Make the cake.  Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in the cocoa powder and water.  Bring to a boil them remove from the heat.  Let cool.

3. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.   Add the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla.  Blend well using a hand held mixer or a strong hand and whisk.  Add the cooled cocoa mixture, stirring until just combined. The batter will be thinner than regular cake batters, but this only means you are on your way to making a great cake.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out almost clean, about 20-25 minutes for large cakes, about 12-15 for cupcakes and 8-10 for minis.  Let cool completely  before frosting.

4.  Make the frosting.  Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in the cocoa powder and buttermilk.  Bring to a boil then remove from the heat and let cool.  Pour into a large mixing bowl.

5.  Using a handheld mixer, beat the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and walnuts into the cocoa mixer.  Mix until thoroughly combined and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Pour or spread over cooled cake.  The frosting will set into a shiny glaze that crackles like thin ice when you cut into it.  Beautiful.

6. The secret step.  Wrap the cooled and frosted cake loosely in cling wrap and refrigerate it, even if only for an hour or so before serving.   Whereas refrigerating tends to dry out baked goods, it dampens this cake so that it’s amazingly dark, dense and moist, just how I envisioned mud pies when I was little.

4 Comments on The Classics: Chocolate Cake

  1. Halie
    October 27, 2010 at 3:44 pm (13 years ago)

    These were so yummy! I think I ate 4.

  2. Lydia Ellison
    October 30, 2010 at 4:38 pm (13 years ago)

    this is for sure the best chocolate cake recipe of all time and that is a claim I have researched!

  3. Katie
    January 5, 2011 at 9:28 am (12 years ago)

    I made this cake for my dad’s birthday last night and we all loved it! He said it was the best cake he’s ever had :).

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