This best simple chocolate cake is light and airy, moist and tender, rich and chocolate-y. The secret ingredient ensures the perfect chocolate cake every time!
Once you master this basic recipe, you can create so many various chocolate cakes by pairing it with different frostings and fillings!
Just like basic vanilla cake recipe, everyone should have a reliable chocolate cake recipe in their recipe box!! And my hope is that this simple moist chocolate cake recipe will be your go-to recipe from now on.
You’ll love how moist and tender the crumbs are in this chocolate cake. But it’s not a fudgy cake!
And believe it or not, this chocolate cake is pretty tasty even on its own!!
WHAT MAKES THIS RECIPE UNIQUE?
- With this recipe, your chocolate cake will be sturdy, yet super moist and soft, not fudgy but with rich chocolate flavor!
- My simple chocolate cake recipe doesn’t use buttermilk. And that’s not by accident! Although buttermilk makes cakes incredibly moist, it also mellows the chocolate flavor significantly. And we want all the rich chocolate flavors in our cake! And milk produced perfectly tender crumbs that you’ll absolutely love!
- The simplest method – no creaming butter and sugar, no whipping the eggs.
- Secret ingredient that makes the cake super light and moist – vinegar!!! Yes, you need a little bit of vinegar in this chocolate cake. It reacts with baking soda and creates light and airy crumbs!
- This chocolate cake is a perfect canvas for many different cake flavors. Pair it with different frostings and fillings, and you’ll never get bored with this chocolate cake!
3 TIPS FOR ULTRA-MOIST CAKES:
- How do I make a moist cake?
- What makes the cake moist and fluffy?
- And how to keep the cake moist?
I bet these are the main concerns every home baker has when baking a cake at home. And it’s totally understandable. There’s nothing worse than biting into a dry, dense cake, right? And it doesn’t matter if it was made completely from scratch and homemade!
Follow these 3 simple tips and you won’t have to worry about serving a dry, dense cake:
- Don’t skip vegetable oil – I’m using both vegetable oil and melted butter in this chocolate cake recipe. Butter adds nice flavor, but vegetable oil keeps this cake moist! If anything, substitute oil for butter, and not other way around!
- Don’t over-mix the batter – It’s really important not to over-mix the batter when you combine wet and dry ingredients. Mix it just until the ingredients combined.
- Don’t over-bake the cake – This is the most common mistake when it comes to dry cakes. Over-baking dries out delicate cakes and there’s no fix for it!! Keep reading to my tips on checking for doneness.
What kind of cocoa powder to use:
There’re 2 types of cocoa powder:
- Natural cocoa powder is a regular cocoa powder, like Hershey’s, which is naturally acidic. It has slightly bitter and rich taste.
- Dutch-processed cocoa powder is basically an alkalized (neutralized) cocoa powder, which produces darker color and has a milder flavor.
In today’s simple chocolate cake, we’re using natural cocoa powder.
You don’t want to substitute dutch-processed cocoa powder, because it won’t react with baking soda like natural cocoa powder does. Therefore, your cakes won’t rise well with dutch-processed cocoa powder.
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST SIMPLE CHOCOLATE CAKE:
- Step 1: Gather all the ingredients, prepare the cake pans and preheat the oven before starting.
- Step 2. Whisk all the dry ingredients.
- Step 3. Add wet ingredients into the dry ones and mix until just combined.
- Step 4. Divide the batter into the pans and bake.
TIP 1: To measure the ingredients correctly, I highly recommend using a scale to measure the dry ingredients, especially flour. It’s really easy to over-measure flour by volume, which will lead to dense and heavy cake that no one wants to eat. If you don’t have a scale, instead of scooping the flour with a measuring cup, spoon the flour into measuring cup and then level the top off with the back of a knife. This is called “spoon and level” method. Don’t be tempted to shake the measuring cup or pack the flour down!
TIP 2: To avoid over-mixing the batter, whip the batter in a mixer until just about combined, and then finish mixing with a rubber spatula, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl, until the batter is most smooth.
BAKING PAN SIZES AND BAKE TIME
In this recipe, I used two 7-inch cake pans and provided the bake time accordingly. This yields 2 tall cake layers that you can easily cut into 2 layers each.
However, you can use two 8 or 9-inch cake pans as well. Please note, your cake layers will be thinner, thus you may not be able to cut them horizontally. It’ll work perfectly for simple 2-layer cake.
- Bake time for two 7-inch cakes is about 35 minutes.
- Bake time for two 8 or 9-inch cakes is around 25 minutes.
How to convert to cupcakes:
If you want to make chocolate cupcakes, you can simply divide the batter into muffin pans and bake for about 20 minutes.
2 ways to check the cake for doneness:
Start checking the cake for doneness 1-2 minutes before the recipe directions, because every oven is slightly different.
- Insert a toothpick in the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean (or with just couple crumbs), the cake is done!
- Carefully press down on the cake. If it doesn’t leave a dent, your cake is done!! Bake a minute or two longer, if you see a dent left behind.
CHOCOLATE CAKE FROSTING IDEAS:
- Indulgent Mocha Frosting – my personal favorite to pair with chocolate cake
- Cream Cheese Frosting – my all-time favorite frosting
- Sturdy Strawberry Whipped Cream – a great fruity combination for a chocolate cake
- Chocolate Mousse Frosting – always a winning combo
HOW DO YOU STORE CHOCOLATE CAKE?
You can bake this chocolate cake in advance. I actually prefer to bake them a day or two in advance, since chilled cakes are much sturdier and easier to handle.
To store the chocolate cake:
- Cool the cake completely on wire rack.
- Wrap each layer separately in a plastic wrap.
- Refrigerate for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.
If you try this chocolate cake recipe, please leave a review in the comments below and share on social media with #sweetandsavorybyshinee. Thank you!!
The Best Simple Chocolate Cake
- 2 cups 250gr all purpose flour
- 1 ½ 300gr granulated sugar
- ½ cup 60gr unsweetened natural cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder Note 1
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons 280ml whole milk, at room temperature (Note 2)
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- ¼ cup 60ml vegetable oil
- 4 tablespoons 56gr unsalted butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- Line two 7-inch cake pans with a parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
- In a mixing bowl with paddle attachment, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds, or until everything is well combined.
- Add milk, eggs, oil and butter. Mix the batter just until smooth, about 15 seconds.
- Stir in vinegar and mix for another 10 seconds.
- Divide the batter into the prepared baking pans. Bake for 35 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Let cakes cool completely in the pans set on wire rack. Then carefully run a knife around the edges and invert.
- Wrap each cake in a plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use, preferably overnight and up to 2 days. Chilled cakes are sturdier and slice much easier, but you can definitely frost the cake as soon as they cooled completely.