I love making birthday cakes. Last week, I decided on a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting for Mini Whipped’s first birthday. Admittedly, I chose chocolate just so the messy-face cake photos would be extra dramatic. I didn’t have time to cook and puree beets for my best chocolate cake recipe, so I decided to try this new one. One cupcake for the baby and a layer cake for the rest us.

I chose this chocolate cake recipe because it has a number of ingredients that I felt were important “yummy factors” in making scrumptious cakes: buttermilk, coffee, chocolate AND cocoa powder. I was suspicious about the cake baking at only 300 degrees. One of the positive results of the lower cooking temperature was a much flatter cake layer (I always get big humps in the center) so less cake was wasted when leveling the layers to frost. That made for more cake for the guests although less scraps for the baker.

Although it MAY have been my fault for slightly over baking the layers, the cake was a touch dry. To compensate, I soaked the cake with vanilla simple syrup before spreading chocolate cream cheese frosting in between and on top. Next time, I think I will try splitting both extra tall layers, spreading chocolate pastry cream between the cake and covering it with the chocolate ganache frosting Gourmet originally suggested. For more filling ideas, see what this blogger did with whipped cream and strawberries. Or this one with raspberry filling.

Speaking of ideas, if you bored by the traditional layer cake, check out this site. I was stuck there for too long scheming up shapes, sizes and characters only to remember my time was too limited to execute. Finally, if you aren’t a confident baker, find baking tips here.

So, what are you waiting for? Find someone who is celebrating their birthday and get baking.

Chocolate Layer Cake
Gourmet, March 1999

3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 300°F. and grease pans. Line bottoms with rounds of wax paper and grease paper. Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well. Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.


Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.