Ina Garten’s Chocolate Cake recipe ~ it’s a classic! When I hear the word dessert, this homey, rich, chocolatey cake is what springs to mind. Everybody should make it at least once.
Ina Garten’s chocolate cake is hands-down one of my favorite chocolate cakes I’ve ever baked, (or tasted!)
It will take a lot for me to look for another chocolate cake recipe in the near future. The texture and flavor of Ina Garten’s chocolate cake is just my style — it’s very moist without being dense or heavy at all, and has just the right balance of sweetness with rich chocolate flavor. I can see why this is a beloved recipe, and will be my go-to from now on.
This easy chocolate cake has the light, even texture of a boxed cake mix
The chocolate cake itself is similar to my Chocolate Cake with Cranberry Buttercream, but even a little bit simpler to put together as it calls for oil and cocoa powder rather than melted butter and chocolate. You can feel confident going with either one, depending on whether you’re in a butter creaming mood or not. They both bake up perfectly with a nice deep rich color and fabulous chocolate flavor.
A pinch of salt and some silky sour cream makes chocolate frosting even better!
I did make a couple of changes to the original frosting recipe to suit my preferences ~ I added a pinch of salt, a bit of sour cream, and increased the amount of powdered sugar. These changes help to bulk up the frosting a bit so that there’s plenty to generously frost a double layer cake (I’m paranoid about running out!)
I feel that the salt and sour cream help offset the added sugar a little bit. The added sour cream also makes for a slightly softer frosting that doesn’t go quite as crusty over time as a plain buttercream frosting tends to do.
I kept my cake as plain and simple as can be, but of course this is a wonderful base for all kinds of variations and decorations. The cake would be amazing with a vanilla frosting, a peanut butter frosting, a blackberry buttercream, whatever you like!
Suggestions for decorating a chocolate layer cake
If your occasion calls for a little more frippery, here are some ideas…
- One of my favorite ways to decorate any chocolate surface is with chocolate shavings: just take a bar of chocolate and a vegetable peeler and peel off little curls. If your chocolate is dry you can microwave it for a few seconds to soften it so that you can get it to curl beautifully.
- Chocolate sprinkles look pretty on a chocolate cake, you can decorate the top, or press them into the sides.
- If it’s the season, pop some berries on top, strawberries and raspberries are perfect. Intersperse some green mint leaves.
- Arrange malted milk balls or other chocolate candy around the perimeter of the cake.
How to crumb coat a layer cake
The moist, delicate texture of this cake mean that it is a little bit trickier to frost without getting crumbs in your frosting, so I recommend doing a quick “crumb coat,” which, if you’ve never bothered with one in the past, really isn’t as complicated or annoying as it might sound!
- To make a “crumb coat,” simply frost the top and sids of the cake with a thin layer of frosting, getting everything as smooth as you can. Don’t worry if there are crumbs showing.
- Then, refrigerate the cake for at least 15 minutes. This sets the frosting and effectively locks all those crumbs in place before you move on to your next coat of frosting, so they won’t be floating around and getting in your way! That’s it!
I think this cake is the perfect celebratory cake for any and all occasions ~ it’s a great recipe to have in your back pocket for birthdays, anniversaries, graduation parties, you name it.
More luscious layer cakes ~
- Banana Cake with Spiced Vanilla Buttercream
- Orange Creamsicle Cake
- Raspberry Lemon Cake
- Blueberry Lemon Layer Cake
Ina Garten’s Chocolate Cake
- Two 8-inch round cake pans Note: this cake is thick, so make sure your cake pans are at least 2 inches tall to accomodate the batter.
- 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup buttermilk (I used half-and-half, which worked fine, too!)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup hot coffee
For the frosting
- 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temperature
- 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup sour cream
For the cake
- Preheat oven to 350F. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper discs.
- Whisk all the dry ingredients together well in a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together all the wet ingredients EXCEPT the coffee.
- Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing as you go. Once incorporated, add the hot coffee, and mix everything until there are no pockets of dry flour left. The batter will be very thin.
- Divide the batter between the two cake pans, and bake for 35 minutes until risen and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out without wet batter clinging to it.
- Allow the cakes to partially cool in the pans, then turn out onto a cooling rack to completely cool before frosting. The cakes can be made a day or two ahead and kept in the refrigerator before frosting.
For the frosting
- Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave using short bursts. Stir until smooth and set aside to cool slightly.
- Beat the room temperature butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment for a couple minutes until smooth and noticeably paler in color. Slowly add the powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla, beating on a low-medium speed until everything is smooth.
- Whisk the sour cream into the partially cooled melted chocolate. This both cools down the chocolate and warms up the sour cream so that both are more-or-less room temperature before adding to the butter mixture.
- Add the chocolate and sour cream mixture to the mixer bowl and beat on low speed until everything is smooth and combined.
- If your frosting seems a little too loose, you can refrigerate it for 10-15 minutes to allow it to firm up a little bit. Then give it a good stir before frosting the cake.
Questions and Reviews
I made this for my child’s 3rd bday. My layers stuck but I used extra frosting to pull it off. It’s not the prettiest, but it tastes great!
I love the chocolate cake. Your recipe seems very good. I always have no creams myself. When I was making different chocolate cakes, I came to the conclusion that it was good to combine two recipes for different cakes.
Hopefully this gets to you in time because I’m banking NOW. Can you please post if you use the scoop or spoon method for the flour? I’ll post the weight measurements I try when I get your response in case there are other bakers who like to weigh flour like me. Thanks!!
Hey Demi, there’s a conversion toggle at the bottom of the list of ingredients, it will give you the choice of US customary or metric measure. I fluff, scoop, and level to measure flour, fyi.
Does the cake need to be refrigerated because of the sour cream in the frosting? Thank you!
Yes, technically sour cream frostings do need to be refrigerated.
Could I make cupcakes with this? I don’t have a coffee pot so would nespresso coffee work?
Yes and yes! Just fill your cupcakes 2/3 or so full and check them at 12-15 minutes.
Absolutely the most delicious chocolate cake I’ve ever had!! So easy to make and my family loved it. My cakes did sink some in the middle while in the oven. Not sure why that happened but it did not effect the taste and texture of this beautiful cake.
Hi, in Ina Garten’s recipe, she put egg yolk in her frosting. do you think is it safe to put one? will you recommend it? thanks!
I don’t think the egg yolk adds anything, so we omit it.
I hope all is well and wonderful. This cake recipe is absolutely phenomenal, and I cannot thank you enough for sharing it. The first time I made it, it was 3 days before my husband proposed. I always joke with him that this cake was the reason why.
I have one question I would love to ask, if you do not mind the interruption to your day. Due to a kitchen incident, I am down to only one 8-inch cake pan. Do you foresee any issues with the cake rising/baking, if I measure half of the batter into the pan, bake, partially cool in the pan, and then baking the other half of the batter. I thought keeping the second half of the batter in the fridge during the hour or so for the first half.
Any thoughts, wisdom, or experience insight would be greatly appreciated.
Many thanks for your time, your recipes, and for making mu kitchen my family’s favorite room.
the cake looks good but for me I would omit the coffee and add water instead. I not a coffee drinker and don”t plan on going to go get some for a cake. Do not like the taste of coffee in cakes or cupcakes
Coffee in chocolate cakes usually doesn’t give a coffee flavor – but rather, it enhances the flavor of the cake. When I made this cake I didn’t taste the coffee at all!
Everytime I make this my cakes collapse in the middle. Any suggestions?
I am having this exact same issue, next time I make it I am going to add more baking soda to see if that helps with the rising
The same happpened to me several times, I live in the northeast region od Mexico and the only way was to only add 1 tsp of baking powder, problem solved! Hope it works for you too!