Chocolate Cake

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Recipe photo
Hands-on time:
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Yield: One 9" x 13" cake, 24 cupcakes, two 9" round layers, or three 8" round layers.

Recipe photo

This chocolate cake has more of a milk chocolate, rather than dark chocolate flavor, making it perfect for kids. It's simple to put together, and bakes up into a moist but easy-to-slice cake. It's perfect for layers or cupcakes, or served right from a 9" x 13" pan. For a snack cake version, add a cup of mini chocolate chips to the batter. For a more grown-up taste, add a teaspoon of espresso powder. We've tested this cake with natural unsweetened cocoa, and with Dutch-process; both work well. The Dutch-process cake will be darker in color and slightly less sweet.

Our guarantee: This cake will be tender and moist. It makes a good layer cake, cupcakes, or eat-out-of-the-pan cake, with a fine crumb that you can pick up with the back of your fork.

Chocolate Cake

star rating (74) rate this recipe »
KAF guaranteed
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: One 9" x 13" cake, 24 cupcakes, two 9" round layers, or three 8" round layers.
Published: 01/01/2010


  • 2 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very soft
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup coffee or water
  • 4 large eggs

Tips from our bakers

  • The butter in this recipe needs to be very soft. You can soften butter by placing the sticks, still in their wrappers, in a bowl of warm (not hot) water for 10 minutes. If you can leave a dent in the butter with a gentle touch, it's ready to use.
  • To warm the milk before adding it, heat it in the microwave for 1 minute. Add the vanilla after the milk is warm, then add all of the liquid to the recipe at once.
  • Never frost a cake until it's completely cool. For tips on frosting a cake, go to our cake decorating class.
  • The volume of this batter is 5 3/4 cups. It will rise quite a bit during baking. The weight of the batter is 3 pounds, 1 ounce. If you're weighing out layers, put 1 pound, 8 1/2 ounces in each 9" layer, or 1 pound in each 8" layer.


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour your choice of pan(s): one 9" x 13" pan, two 9" round pans, three 8" round pans, or the wells of two muffin tins. You can also line the muffin tins with papers, and spray the insides of the papers.

1. Place a strainer over a large mixing bowl. Measure in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa, and sugar. Sift/shake the dry ingredients through the strainer into a mixing bowl, to eliminate any lumps.

2. Add the butter and mix at low speed for 1 minutes. With the mixer running, add the oil and continue mixing until the mixture looks like sand.

3. Combine the vanilla with the milk and coffee or water, and add all at once. Mix for 1 minute at low speed, stop and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, then mix for 30 seconds more.

4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well at medium-high speed between additions.

5. Scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl, and mix for 1 minute more. The batter will be thin.

6. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan of your choice. For layers, divide the batter among the pans. Smooth out the tops of the layers with an offset spatula or the back of a tablespoon. For cupcakes, scoop by the heaping 1/4 cup into the prepared muffin tins.

7. Bake for 34 minutes for a 9" x 13" pan; 28 to 30 minutes for 9" layers; 24 to 26 minutes for 8" layers, or 21 to 23 minutes for cupcakes.

8. The cake is done when the top springs back when very lightly touched in the center, and the edges just begin to pull away from the edge of the pan. A toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean.

9. Remove the cake from the oven and place on a rack to cool before removing it from the pan.

Nutrition information

Serving Size: 1 slice (58g) Servings Per Batch: 24 Amount Per Serving: Calories: 180 Calories from Fat: 70 Total Fat: 8g Saturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 45mg Sodium: 140mg Total Carbohydrate: 24g Dietary Fiber: 1g Sugars: 15g Protein: 3g

* The nutrition information provided for this recipe is determined by the ESHA Genesis R&D software program. Substituting any ingredients may change the posted nutrition information.


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  • star rating 02/13/2015
  • from
  • star rating 02/01/2015
  • ruthpielady from KAF Community
  • Oh boy, had to share with fellow bakers. This is my go to for basic chocolate cake. Today I wanted cake really quick and in my haste, forgot the sugar! Rather than throw it away, I had an inspiration. I made a simple syrup, poked holes on top of the cake with a fork, and brushed/poured the syrup over it. Frosted it and had it for dessert. Came out almost brownie like but, it was more than edible so I can say this is a versatile recipe! This is also great made with coconut oil, melted and cooled. Gives a nice flavor.
  • star rating 01/29/2015
  • sdschroeder from KAF Community
  • I have made this cake now three times-the first time I didn't even get to frost it, the husband ate half of it after dinner! the second time I made cupcakes out of it, filled with white chocolate mousse, and frosted with whipped cream topping, were a hit with my friends for a birthday lunch and devoured! I just made it again for dessert tonight-made into a sheet cake for us as a treat-it is a wonderful tasty recipe and so easy to make! I am now done with cake mixes-this tops them all!
  • star rating 01/15/2015
  • Lu from
  • Excellent. My cake turned out moist and flavorful. I added the coffee and I believe it added great depth. Highly recommended recipe.
  • star rating 12/26/2014
  • Sam from Washington, DC
  • Easy to bake, lovely texture, pleasant taste, but weak chocolate flavor. (We used water instead of coffee.)
  • star rating 11/12/2014
  • ZippyD from Sandy, OR
  • Very impressed with this basic way to make a cake. If you follow all of the rules to the letter, then it will come out light/airy yet firm. I think it's the perfect vessel for a creamy frosting. This will be my go to chocolate cake.
  • star rating 10/03/2014
  • mysophierose from KAF Community
  • Wonderfully moist cake! Would love to find out which frosting this is on the cake! It looks sooo good! Does anyone know?

    Hi there! I think the Italian Buttercream or Quick Buttercream Frosting would be great choices, and look like what might have been used in the picture. Happy Baking! Jocelyn@KAF

  • star rating 07/15/2014
  • Darcy from Montreal
  • Excellent chocolate cake! Super easy to make. I have made both cupcakes and the double layered cake. I like to frost the cake the night before serving and let it absorb some of the moisture in the fridge. My kids love it and I love it too!
  • star rating 05/11/2014
  • Stephanie A from Bensalem, PA
  • Almost as easy as a box mix! Very nice flavor and texture. I paired it with cream cheese frosting and it was darn near perfection! Mine came out a bit drier than I had hoped... Not dry, just not as moist as I expected, but as this was my first attempt at a cake from scratch, I am thrilled! Definitely will make again!
  • star rating 03/19/2014
  • robbyn from colorado
  • Nice choc cake, easy to prepare but just incredibly dry. All of the KA cakes I have made have been dry. the paste method, add wet to dry, add wet then dry then more wet etc. all make a "must have fluid to wash it down" type of cake. Recipes from M.Stewart are never dry, so I will go back to her recipes.
    I'm sorry the cake recipes you've tried have turned out too dry. I noticed you are from Colorado and I wonder if altitude is affecting your outcome? If you're ever making one of our recipes and it isn't turning out the way you'd expect, please feel free to call our baker's hotline 855-371-2253. Barb@KAF
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