New This Month

Basic Chocolate Cake


Decorate this cake with either our Vanilla- or Chocolate-Buttercream frosting.

  • Yield: Makes one 8-inch layer cake

Source: Martha Stewart Living, January 2005


  • Unsalted butter, for pans
  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Homemade Vanilla-Buttercream Frosting
  • or
  • Homemade Chocolate-Buttercream Frosting


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Cut two 8-inch rounds of parchment paper to line the bottoms of two 8-inch (2 inches deep) round cake pans. Butter and line pans. Butter linings. Dust pans with cocoa, tapping out excess. Set aside.

  2. Sift together cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer. Return bowl to mixer. Fit mixer with the paddle attachment. Add eggs, yolk, water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Mix on low speed until smooth, about 3 minutes.

  3. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans. Bake, switching positions of pans and rotating halfway through, until a cake tester inserted into centers comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let cool in pans on wire racks 30 minutes. Run a thin knife around edges of cakes to loosen. Unmold; peel off parchment. Let cool completely, top sides up, on racks.

  4. Trim tops of cake layers with a long serrated knife to make them level. Using a small offset spatula, cover top of one cake layer evenly with 1 1/2 cups frosting; spread frosting so that it extends just beyond edges of cake.

  5. Place second cake layer, cut side down, on top; press gently to make it level. Frost top and sides of assembled cake with remaining frosting.

Cook's Notes

The cake layers can be wrapped well in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 days; trim tops just before assembling.

Reviews Add a comment

  • thepointetiffa
    24 MAY, 2017
    I think this has the potential to be a great cake but sadly I was left with a huge mess when the cake overflowed in my oven. It could have been worse had I have used all the batter the recipe made for my 8-inch cake pans. Luckily I realized I had more batter than I needed so I didn't pour it all in but unfortunately it still overflowed quite a bit. It seems this recipe would have been better for 3 8-inch cake pans. I'm surprised this was approved as a Martha Stewart worthy recipe. I usually trust this site. On a good note the drippings I salvaged tasted quite good. The cake just looks a little rough.
  • mish2g2001
    17 MAY, 2017
    Can you subs[filtered]ute soy milk for the buttermilk to make this nondairy?? Would it be the same amount?