Go Back
+ servings

Homemade Chocolate Cake

A simple homemade chocolate cake recipe that's moist, flavorful and easy! Finished with a rich chocolate buttercream frosting, this is the perfect cake for any occasion.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword chocolate cake recipe, homemade chocolate cake, simple chocolate cake
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Cooling Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings 12 - 16 people
Calories 671kcal
Author Blair Lonergan




  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) salted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6 tablespoons brewed coffee, at room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons milk or cream, at room temperature (plus more, as needed, to thin the frosting)
  • teaspoon salt (or more, to taste)
  • 2 lbs. confectioners sugar, sifted



  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper and grease again.
  • In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  • In a separate large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 1-2 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Add vanilla and mix well.
  • Add sifted dry ingredients to the butter mixture in thirds, alternating with the sour cream and hot water, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Tap gently on the counter to release air. Bake for 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
  • Once the cakes are completely cool, prepare the frosting.


  • Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, cocoa powder, coffee, milk and salt. With the mixer on its lowest speed, gradually add the confectioners sugar until incorporated.
  • Increase the speed of the mixer until the frosting becomes fluffy. The frosting will likely be very thick, so gradually add 1 teaspoon of additional cream at a time until the frosting reaches a spreadable consistency. Taste and season with an extra pinch of salt, if desired.


  • Using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the top of the bottom cake (or both cakes) to create a flat surface.
  • Spread the frosting in between the two cake layers, and then on the top and sides of the cake.


  • While most cakes do best with cake flour, I recommend all-purpose flour for this recipe. That's because the chocolate cake includes cocoa powder – which already has a soft, dry texture. The combination of both cake flour and cocoa powder can result in a flimsy cake. All-purpose flour has a higher protein content and is milled to a slightly coarser consistency, which keeps this cake nice and sturdy.
  • Use thick, full-fat sour cream. This adds richness, moisture and flavor to the cake that you won't get with low-fat varieties.
  • Make sure that all of your ingredients are at room temperature. This helps them blend together more easily and smoothly, and helps to avoid over-mixing (which can result in a dry, dense cake).
  • For a moist, light cake, it's important that you don't over-cream the butter and sugar, and that you don't over-mix the batter. Mix just until the ingredients are combined, and then stop.
  • Sift the confectioners' sugar to avoid any lumps in your frosting.
  • Do not over-bake the cakes or they will become dry. Start checking the cakes for doneness by the 35-minute mark, since total baking times will vary depending on your personal oven and the pans that you use.
  • Make the cake about 1 day ahead of when you plan to serve it. The cake just gets better as it sits!


Serving: 1slice (1/16 of the cake and frosting) | Calories: 671kcal | Carbohydrates: 112g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 82mg | Sodium: 394mg | Potassium: 221mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 81g | Vitamin A: 749IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 3mg