I have been working on this Best Chocolate Cake recipe for years and years. There is a lot of research and trial and error on so many cakes to put together this perfect combination of ingredients. I wanted a deep chocolate flavor with a moist cake. The bonus is this chocolate frosting melts in your mouth and is so creamy.
Everyone loves this chocolate cake! It has just the right amount of cocoa to give a rich, smooth flavor. The secret ingredients of course are always, sour cream and buttermilk. Adding very, hot water at the end of mixing is the key to getting the cocoa to bloom and create the Best Chocolate Cake.
How To Make the Best Chocolate Cake
1. Preheat the oven to 350° at least 30 minutes before putting the cake inside.
2. Start by getting the cake pans ready for the batter. I use 8″ cake pans, but any pans will work. Obviously 8″ pans will give you thicker cake and nine inch pans will give you thinner layers. Start by greasing the bottoms of the pan. I always use Crisco to grease the pans. Use a folded paper towel or napkin. Dip it into the Crisco and spread a thin layer on the bottom of each pan. You can also use butter. Don’t use liquid oil.
3. Then drop a couple tablespoons of flour in each pan. Pick up the pan and shake it to move the flour around the bottom of each pan. Turn the pans upside down and knock them on the side of the sink so the leftover flour drops out.
Getting the pans ready is important!
4. Make parchment paper circles to go inside. You can use either sheets of parchment or a roll of parchment. Lately, I have liked using a roll of parchment paper and ripping off three pieces the size of my cake pans. Place all three pieces on top of each other. Then take a cake pan and lay the flat side on top of all three pieces. Use a pencil and trace the outside of the pan. Remove the pan and use scissors to cut inside the pencil mark. Cutting about an 1/8 inch inside the pencil mark all the way around the circle will give you three perfect circles that fit inside the pan.
5. Make the chocolate cake batter. Add all the dry ingredients into a large bowl. This includes, the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
6. Mix all the wet ingredients, except the hot water, in another bowl. This includes the eggs, vegetable oil, buttermilk, sour cream and vanilla. With a whisk mix these together until well mixed. Add this to the dry ingredients and mix until you cannot see any more dry ingredients. Over mixing cake batter lessens the light fluffy texture of a cake. Make sure to mix only until everything is incorporated.
Very Hot Water is the Secret Ingredient!
7. Add the hot water. The water really needs to be hot. if your tap water does not getting very hot, put it in the microwave for a minute. It is okay if the water is boiling just a bit. Pour the hot water into the cake batter. Mix everything together until all the water is incorporated. You do not want to over mix your cake batter.
8. Measure out the batter so it is even in all three cake pans. I use a scale to do this. I place a bowl on the scale and hit tare. Now I am measuring only the batter and not the bowl. I start with about 14 ounces of batter. Then I pour this into one pan. I continue to measure 14 ounces for each pan. Usually I have batter left over. I pour all of it into the bowl on the scale and divide it by three. Then I start taking out each third and add it to each of the three pans.
9. Place the cake pans in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. I do not have room in one oven to bake all three pans. Lucky for me I have two ovens and I can put one pan in the bottom oven while two pans are on top. Please take this into consideration when making a three layer cake. Two nine inch pans work really great too!
10. Once the cakes are done, take them out of the oven and place on cooling racks. Set a timer for 10 minutes and loosen the sides with an offset spatula. I love these little tools because they are not sharp and will not cut the cake. It just loosens the edges.
Cool the cake in the pan for only 10 minutes.
When the timer goes off, gently place your hand on top of the cake and turn the pan over. Place the cake on the cooling rack and peel off the parchment paper.
11. To decorate cake, I always make the cake the night before. Once the cakes are cool, I wrap them in plastic wrap so they are completely sealed and place them in my freezer. I leave enough time in the morning to frost and decorate the cake.
12. Make the frosting. You can make this the night before and then put it in the refrigeratore. You will need to let the frosting come to room temperature before using.
Great Frosting Needs to Be Beaten!
13. When making cake and frosting you want the butter room temperature. When making cookies, use cold butter. Place the room temperature butter into a stand mixer with a whip attachment. Mix until it is light yellow and well whipped. Mix the cocoa and powdered sugar together.
I love using a scale to measure powdered sugar. One pound of powdered sugar equals four cups. Need six cups? Then you need one and half pounds of powdered sugar. Start adding the powdered sugar a large spoon at a time to the whipped butter. You will have light and fluffy frosting if you add the powdered sugar very gradually. Dumping a cup of powdered sugar at a time into the frosting does not give it the time it needs to incorporate enough air into the frosting.
Pour the whipping cream into the frosting mixture a tablespoon at a time. You can tell you need to add the whipping cream when the butter and powdered sugar start making small sugar balls. The whipping cream will smooth this out and continue to create a smooth frosting. Add a shake of salt from a salt shaker. You need just a little to help bring out the sweet flavor.
Once you have all the cocoa and powdered sugar added, add the vanilla and set the timer to four minutes. Continue to beat the frosting for the whole time on a medium high speed. Occasionally stop the mixer and use a spatula to pull any unbeaten butter from the sides of the mixer bowl.
There is enough frosting to frost a three layer cake.
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Best Chocolate Cake
- 2 Cups Flour
- 1 Cup Cocoa Powder
- 1 tsp. Baking Powder
- 2 tsp. Baking Soda
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 2 Cups Sugar
- 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
- 3 Eggs
- 2/3 Cup Sour Cream
- 3/4 Cup Buttermilk
- 2 tsp. Vanilla
- 1 Cup Very Hot Water
- 2 Cups Butter, room temperature
- 7 Cups Powdered Sugar
- 1 Cup Cocoa Powder
- Pinch Salt
- 2 tsp. Vanilla
- 2/3 Cup Heavy Cream
- Heat oven to 350°.
- Grease three 8 inch cake pans with butter or Crisco
- Dust each pan with flour and then add cut parchment paper that fits inside the pan.
- Combine dry ingredients, flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda and powder and salt.
- Beat 3 eggs.
- Add the rest of the wet ingredients to the eggs except the hot water. This includes the sour cream, buttermilk, vanilla, and oil.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Do not over mix.
- Pour in the very hot water and mix.
- Pour equal amounts of cake into the three prepared cake pans.
- Bake for 25 – 30 minutes.
- Place butter in the mixer and beat until soft.
- Add cocoa, powdered sugar and salt in a bowl.
- Use a large spoonful to add the dry ingredients to the butter.
- Add the whipping cream a tablespoon at a time when the frosting gets too thick.
- When all the dry ingredients are added, add in the vanilla and continue to beat the frosting for four minutes.
- This is enough frosting to frost a three layer cake.