Old Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake


This recipe for old fashioned cake comes from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book. I have had nothing other than perfect results when I bake with this cookbook, and this chocolate cake is no exception. It is chocolatey but not overwhelmingly so, with a rich thick texture. I frosted the cake with a basic chocolate buttercream that whips up nice and fluffy with some work from a stand mixer.

The old fashioned chocolate layer cake joined my maraschino cherry layer cake on the Easter table this year. To make this cake Easter-inspired, I used a little bit of decorator frosting to glue a pattern of mini Cadbury eggs around the top’s circumference. For the bottom, I evenly placed sixteen miniature Reese’s eggs around. I squeezed a dollop of yellow decorator frosting in between the Reese’s eggs, and then placed a yellow mini Cadbury egg in the center. This gave the illusion of a marshmallow Peep chick.



Old Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 16
  • Cake Ingredients:
  • 12 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened well
  • 1 & ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • ¼ cup dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 1 & ¾ cup white sugar, separated
  • 1 & ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs + 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • Thick & Fluffy Chocolate Frosting Ingredients:
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1&1/3 cups cocoa powder
  • 2 lb. bag powdered sugar (about 8 cups)
  • ⅔ + cup whole milk
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.
  2. Combine unsweetened chocolate, cocoa powder, and hot water in medium heatproof bowl; set bowl over medium saucepan containing 1 inch of barely simmering water. Stir mixture with silicon spatula until chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes. Add ½ cup white sugar to chocolate and stir until glossy, 1-2 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and set aside to cool.
  3. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Set aside. Combine buttermilk and vanilla in glass measuring cup. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat eggs, egg yolks, and sugar on medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Increase speed to high, and whisk until thick and voluminous, about 8 minutes.
  5. Replace whisk with paddle attachment. Slowly add cooled chocolate mixture to egg/sugar mixture and mix on low speed until thoroughly incorporated, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. Add the softened butter one tablespoon at a time, mixing on low speed.
  7. Add about one-third of the flour mixture, followed by half of buttermilk mixture, mixing until incorporated after each addition. Repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining buttermilk mixture. Scrape down sides of bowl and add remaining flour mixture. Beat on low speed until batter is thoroughly combined. Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter with a rubber spatula to make sure all flour is incorporated.
  8. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans. Spin pans carefully but quickly on a level surface to create a small crater in the center of the batter. (This will make your cakes bake at a more level height and prevent a dome in the center). Bake cakes until toothpick inserted into center comes out with a few crumbs attached, about 30 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes, then invert onto wire rack. Cool cakes on wire racks before frosting, at least 2 hours.
  9. To make frosting, add all ingredients to stand mixer. Beat on low speed until almost incorporated. Turn mixer to high and and add milk, one tablespoon at a time, until frosting is desired consistency. Beat frosting on medium-high speed for several minutes, until thick and fluffy.
  10. To frost, spread a generous cup of frosting on top of the bottom layer. Top with the second cake. Frost with a crumb coat. (This means to thinly frost the entire surface of the cakes). Refrigerate 30 minutes to set the crumb coat. Next frost the cake with the remaining frosting. Decorate as desired. Keep cake tightly sealed with plastic wrap and refrigerated for optimum quality.




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  1. I bet your chocolate cake was a hit for Easter, looks wonderful.  Nice job on the decorating too.

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