Chocolate Cake

Anyone can make this cake. Just about anyone can make it well; the exception being my brother. Sorry, Ben, I make ‘mom’s chocolate cake’ better than you do. Given that it’s the only thing I do better, let me have this.

Anytime I’ve had a friend ask me for a classic birthday cake recipe, this one… takes the cake, har… har. I couldn’t resist. It’s the standard, moist, fluffy, chocolaty cake that won’t disappoint. It’s easy and you can make it as a double layer, triple layer, cupcakes, or a bundt. I like to make it in a bundt pan because, well, I’m lazy and it means I only have one pan to wash. The preparation is the same for each size; it’s just the cooking time that varies. Read right to the bottom for individual instructions. Also, a simple chocolate icing recipe is included at the bottom. I have no idea who to give credit to for this recipe as I have seen similar recipes on cocoa containers, different websites, my mom, and other family members so… it belongs to no one! Here we go…


  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water1

Total prep time: 20 minutes

Total cook time: varies 20 minutes – 1 hour


Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl mix together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In another bowl mix together the eggs, milk, and vegetable oil. Add to dry mixture and stir until fully incorporated. Add vanilla and stir until everything is combined.

Once everything is nicely together add the boiling water. Stir very slowly as it gets a bit sloppy but you are still aiming for full incorporation. As you do this you will undoubtedly be thinking ‘my this is thin!’ and well, you’re right. It’s going to be VERY thin. Thinner than anything you’ve baked before. It’s going to be like chocolate soup, (mmm chocolate soup…).

Scroll down for baking instructions.

Does anyone else have the problem where they are unable to measure cocoa without making a mess? It has never been done.

IMG_2797Here’s the dry ingredients mixed together. I use a fork to sift it and gets out most lumps.


Here it is all mixed together, before the boiling water is added.


Look who came to help.


Everything mixed together with the boiling water looking like soup:


Baking Instructions

Here come the individual instructions. Note that in all instances, a toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean if it’s done and always allow to cool completely before frosting (recipe to follow).

  1. Two-layer cake: Grease and flour two 9” round cake pans. Divide batter evenly and bake together for 30-35 minutes.
  2. One-layer rectangle cake: Grease and flour a 9x13x2” cake pan, bake for 35-40 minutes.
  3. Three-layer cake: Grease and flour three 8” round cake pans. Divide batter evenly and bake together for 30-35 minutes, rotating half-way.
  4. Bundt cake: Grease and flour a 10 cup bundt pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes.
  5. Cupcakes (makes 24): Line standard cupcake pan with liners, fill each 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22-25 minutes, rotating half-way.

Here are some pictures of the bundt pan cake and the cupcakes.

Bundt cake – finito!


Bundt cake, out of pan! Mmm…

IMG_2811Cupcakes – done!


Let’s make some icing! I posted a recipe for “Swiss Meringue Chocolate Buttercream Icing” on my old blog, you can find it here. If you’re looking for something more traditional, give this a try:

  • ½ cup butter
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 cups icing sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternate adding sugar and milk, beating consistently. Add additional milk if it’s looking too thick. Stir in vanilla. If you don’t use it right away, put it in the fridge. When you’re ready to ice your cake/cupcakes, put the icing in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time until it’s easier to spread.


  1. Want to get creative? Instead of using 1 cup of boiling water, try 1 cup of brewed coffe. Emphasis on brewed. My mom once told me that when she first made this cake she put in in 1 cup of coffee grounds… grity, gross, coffee grounds. No, no. Brewed coffee. I don’t have a coffee maker so I just stirred a teaspoon of instant coffee into the boiling water.
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3 Responses to Chocolate Cake

  1. Marcia says:

    I just decided I need a Bundt Cake Pan… I just made delicious Zucchini Chocolate Cake and it would have looked pretty coming out like that! BTW I love your website, especially your witty observations aka Banana Bread!

  2. Erica says:

    Bundt pans aren’t just for coffee cakes… I use mine all the time. Make sure to be extra thorough when greasing it though, they tend to have lots of crevasses where cake can get stuck! Zucchini choco cake sounds so tasty!

  3. Christine says:

    Delicious! Thank you for sharing the recipe!!

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