So for a while now, I’ve wanted to bake a real cake. I don’t mean cake rolls or pound cakes– I mean a layered, frosted, and filled cake. I’ve looked up recipes and toyed with the idea for months now, and with the additional sweet-toothed house guests, I knew that my opportunity had come. But the question was, what flavor cake? What kind of frosting? What should I fill it with? How many layers should I make? How long will this take? Will I even be successful?!
But not to be deterred, I powered on. I knew that I wanted to make a chocolate cake, but I had been debating between two well-known recipes for a long time. I wanted a moist, light, but well-structured cake with a subtle sweetness and powerful flavors. The Epicurious Double Layer Chocolate Cake and the Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake. Both recipes are quite similar, just slightly different in dry-wet proportions and the Epicurious calls for melted chocolate and buttermilk and yields a larger amount of batter.
So the big question is– Which is better? Epicurious or Hershey’s Chocolate cakes?
For my first attempt, I really wanted to keep it simple, but when you’re baking a cake.. what’s simplicity? After a long time of googling recipes and reading reviews, I settled on the Hershey’s recipe. It was a pretty simple cake batter and had a relatively quick bake time, both things I favored. However, my desire for simplicity was my downfall. My first mistake was not lining my tins. I usually never line my baking pans with parchment paper. I mostly use silpat or butter VERY generously to avoid stick-age. My mistake. When I poured the batter into my two 8-inch tins and popped them into the oven for the requisite 35 minutes, I was focused more on the frosting and filling than the cakes.
Once my timer went off, I used a toothpick to check for done-ness and they came out clean so I took them out of the oven to slightly cool. However, when I attempted to remove them from the tin, I realized my big mistake was going to cost me. The cakes would NOT come out. At first I thought they stuck to the pan and gently wiggled my knife in to loosen them. Oops, a huge piece came apart. No biggie– I thought– I’ll piece it back together in the cake and cover with frosting. But then, when I finally got the rest of the cake out, I realized why I had a problem. The cake was not fully baked. It was still very VERY wet in some areas and dry in others. I popped it back in the oven, hoping to salvage the cake, but I knew it was too late.
What did I end up with? Two very hard, stiff, rock-like disks of chocolate cake that are currently in my freezer waiting to be re-purposed into something edible. You can see from the pictures that not only did it crack severely on top, but it sunk as well. A HUGE disappointment. It seemed like most people were successful with their 35 minute bakes, so, to be honest, I’m a little stumped since at 40 minutes, part of the cake was still raw. No matter–I wanted to have a cake and I didn’t have time to wallow in self-pity. Feeling too wary to try the Hershey’s recipe again, I opted for the Epicurious recipe.
Yes, it does require you to chop up and measure out chocolate, but it was worth the hassle if it meant perfect cake layers. Instead of buttermilk, which I feared would weigh down the cake and lead to a dense batter, I used skim milk. After quickly lining and buttering my tins this time, I poured my liquid batter into 3 8-inch tins, set the timer for 1 hour using the lower bake temperature, and prayed for success.
One hour later and what did I get? Beautiful chocolate cake. I’m sold. Epicurious has won my heart and a place on my blog with this moist, soft, and oh-so decadent smelling chocolate cake. Don’t be deterred by the slightly more fussy recipe because the richness that the melted chocolate delivers is worth it. A few notes on the recipe:
- Use chopped chocolate bars and melt them in the coffee or milk for easier cleaning.
- You won’t taste the coffee flavors but the chocolate will definitely come through– if you fear serving caffeine to younger children or adults, you can skip it.
- For a denser cake, use buttermilk or whole milk instead of skim milk that I used
- Make sure you mix the batter well so you don’t have any flour lumps–it’s not tasty in cake, trust me
- Cover the batter with foil halfway to avoid over-baking the tops
- Line and butter your tins for easier removal–the time spent cutting the lines is nothing compared to the heartache of a stuck cake
I decided not to frost and fill my cake the same day I baked it, so once the cakes were fully cooled, I wrapped them separately in plastic wrap and let them sit overnight on the counter-top. The next day, I filled it with a simple coffee-flavored whipped cream frosting and frosted it with the lightest butter frosting I’ve ever tasted. This frosting isn’t your traditional butter-based, heavy, store-bought cake frosting. No, this is a light, whipped cream-like frosting that will have you closing your eyes and savoring every bite. But you can read more about the details here.
So the final result? This beautiful 3-tiered 8-inch layered cake. My very first and proud mama creation. My eager tasters loved it and so did I. Looking for the perfect Chocolate Cake recipe? Look no further, the answer is clear and down below!
Note*** This version of the recipe is solely mine. When re-posting, please cite me and my website.
Copyright may 2016 ©
Chocolate Layer Cake
A rich layer Chocolate cake that’s moist and light
>>> Yields 3 8-inch layers
Adapted from Epicurious
-Prep: 20 min
-Bake: 60 min
- 3 oz semisweet chocolate, melted
- 1 1/2 C hot brewed coffee
- 2 3/4 C white sugar
- 2 1/2 C AP flour
- 1 1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 large eggs, room temp
- 3/4 C neutral-flavored oil
- 1 1/2 C milk, room temp
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 C whipped cream, cold
- 3/4 C white sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp ground coffee or instant coffee
1) Preheat the oven to 300 F. Grease 3 8-inch pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
2) In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
3) In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until thickened for 2-3 minutes and add in the milk, coffee, oil, vanilla, and chocolate. Beat until well combined.
4) Mix together the dry and wet ingredients until no flour remains and well-combined.
5) Divide the batter between the three pans.
6) Bake in the oven for 60-70 minutes until the tops are firm and then toothpick comes out clean. (I covered my pans with foil at about 30 minutes to prevent the tops from getting too crisp)
7) Remove from the oven and let slightly cool for 5 minutes before turning out the layers onto racks and removing the parchment papers.
8) Let the layers cool completely before frosting.
9) Cake layers can be made a day in advance and wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature. Frosted caked can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
For the filling: Whip the heavy cream for 3 minutes with a mixer. Add in the sugar gradually until the cream stiffens. Add in the coffee, salt, and vanilla and beat until fully incorporated. Can be stored sealed for 2-3 days in the refrigerator.
For the frosting: See here