Favorite Fudge Birthday Cake

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Favorite Fudge Birthday Cake

star rating (123) rate this recipe »
Published prior to 2008

This quadruple-layer cake isn't nearly as fussy to make as you might think. It starts out as a standard two-layer cake, then each layer is cut in half stacked, with an easy filling in between the layers. The result is a moist cake that keeps well without refrigeration; looks spectacular when cut, and tastes even better than it looks!

Follow our step-by-step photos for making this cake at our blog, Flourish. 
Want to make 2 dozen cupcakes instead of a layer cake? Enjoy our recipe for Favorite Fudge Birthday Cupcakes with 7-Minute Icing.

2 cups (14 ounces) sugar
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur  Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 tablespoons (3/8 ounce) Instant ClearJel® or cornstarch
3/4 cup (2 1/4 ounces) Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) water

12 ounces semisweet chocolate
6 ounces cream (light, whipping, or heavy) or milk, or a combination*
flavors of your choice (see filling directions below)

*Hint: Since you need 4 ounces of cream for the icing, and you’ll most likely buy an 8-ounce container, use 4 ounces cream in the filling supplemented with 2 ounces of milk.

8 ounces semisweet chocolate
4 ounces cream (light, whipping, or heavy)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour (or grease, then line with parchment, then grease again) two 8" x 2" round cake pans. Note: These pans need to be at least 2" tall; if you have non-standard, shorter 8" pans, substitute 9" round pans.

To make the cake: Whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the eggs, oil, and vanilla, beating until smooth. Gradually add the water, beating until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.

Bake the cakes for 35 to 38 minutes (a bit less if you use a 9" pan), or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn them out of the pans to cool completely on a rack.

To make the filling: Combine the chocolate and cream in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the cream is very hot, and the chocolate very soft. Stir to melt the chocolate completely, reheating very briefly if necessary.

Now you have a choice. You may either flavor the filling all one flavor, or use a different flavor for each layer of filling. For all one flavor, use 3 tablespoons of your favorite liqueur–Frangelico (hazelnut), Kahlua (coffee), or Framboise (raspberry) are all good choices. Or try 2 tablespoons rum. Alternatively, add 1 tablespoon espresso powder; or flavor to taste with a bottled extract (coconut, peppermint, cherry, almond…)

To mix and match flavors, divide the filling into three parts, and flavor each differently to taste, with an extract; or with about 1 tablespoon liqueur for each flavor. Divide the cooled layers in half horizontally, to make four layers. Place one layer on a serving plate, and spread with filling. Repeat with the next two layers. Top with the final cake layer.

To make the icing: Combine the chocolate and cream in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the cream is very hot, and the chocolate very soft. Stir to melt the chocolate completely, reheating very briefly if necessary. Pour and spread the icing over the top of the cake, letting it drip over the edges and down the sides. Once it’s done dripping, you may smooth the sides with an icing spatula, if desired. Allow the cake to rest, covered with a cake cover (or a big turned-over bowl) till the chocolate is set; overnight is good, though several hours are sufficient. Yield: 12 generous servings.


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  • star rating 04/27/2015
  • rick30 from KAF Community
  • Tom, about the egg-free recipe... There is a great recipe that has been around for decades called Wacky Cake (or sometimes Depression Cake or Crazy Cake). Google it, and you will see that it has no eggs or milk. It is a truly wonderful cake, and many baker's favorite because you get such excellent results from a one-bowl batter. You willl not find a better, easier chocolate cake recipe. Now, for the classic fudge layer cake with creamed butter, etc, one from KAF is a winner.
  • star rating 04/10/2015
  • Tom from Plainfield, IL
  • I've made this many times already and love this recipe. However, I have a friend who is allergic to eggs. Any suggestions from KAF on how to make this egg free and not lose flavor or texture?
  • star rating 02/08/2015
  • doremi72 from KAF Community
  • I made this cake for my son's birthday. We all loved it :) I like the fact that this cake doesn't require butter and yet it's still very good cake!! AND it's soooo easy to make! My 10 years old daughter made cupcake with this recipe and she is SO proud of herself making them SOOOOO YUMMMMMMY!!!! Big thank you to you all :D
  • star rating 02/03/2015
  • strawberry81 from KAF Community
  • can u make cupcakes with this and how many min/temp to bake at

    This recipe turns into 24 cups very easily. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

  • star rating 01/25/2015
  • Lona Adachi from Sumter Sc
  • I made this cake twice in less than a 24 hour period for two different birthday celebrations. This cake is a keeper. Everyone loved it. Highly recommend and simple to make.
  • star rating 01/22/2015
  • JudithC1 from KAF Community
  • Very good cake recipe. I usually serve with a buttercream frosting.
  • star rating 01/15/2015
  • Jess from
  • My go-to recipe for chocolate cake USED to be the Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake. But after trying the Favorite Fudge I'm never going back! It's delicious, moist, chocolatey...everything I want in a cake! It bakes up beautifully as layered cake or cupcakes. I usually use a kitchen scale to measure my ingredients. This recipe is a no-brainer! I like to add my coffee/espresso powder to my water instead of with the dry ingredients.
  • 12/30/2014
  • Sarah from NH
  • I don't have Instant ClearJel or cormstarch. Can I use Cake enhancer instead? Probably not, I'm sorry. Cake Enhancer helps to keep it longer, whereas the cornstarch or ClearJel helps to lower the protein in the flours. Potato starch, or simply using regular flour will slightly change the consistency but will work. Happy New Year! Laurie @KAF
  • star rating 12/22/2014
  • Allison from Sacramento, California
  • Super Yum! I did not have powder espresso so I just brewed a cup of coffee and replaced the water with it. It was simply divine! I was very impressed with the amount of chocolate flavor for the small amount of cocoa that was required for the recipe. I also appreciated that it did not require any milk or butter. It could be very well be a last-minute cupboard cake. As these items I already had in my cupboard as I am an avid baker. the cake came out moist and delicious. I opted to prepare it in my stand mixer and became out with great results. I placed this in my recipe box for a go to standard chocolate cake.
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