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One-Bowl Chocolate Cake

Birthday? Anniversary? Going-away party? This super-easy, one-bowl layer cake is the perfect dessert for any gathering of chocolate buffs.

  • Yield: Makes one 8-inch double-layer cake
One-Bowl Chocolate Cake

Source: Martha Stewart Living, April 2010


  • Unsalted butter, softened, for pans
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder, plus more for pans
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 3 tablespoons safflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Chocolate Frosting


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans (2 inches deep); dust with cocoa. Sift cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a mixer. Beat on low speed until just combined. Raise speed to medium, and add eggs, buttermilk, water, oil, and vanilla. Beat until smooth, about 3 minutes.

  2. Divide batter between pans. Bake until set and a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes. Turn out from pans. Transfer, faceup, to wire racks. Let cool completely.

  3. Spread 2 cups chocolate frosting onto top of 1 cooled layer. Top with remaining layer; frost top and sides with remaining 2 cups frosting.

Cook's Note

Unfrosted cake layers can be stored, wrapped in plastic, at room temperature or refrigerated overnight. Frosted cake can be refrigerated overnight.

Reviews (30)

  • KWende 3 Feb, 2015

    This is our go to cake/cupcake recipe. I have used it for Wilton character pans, and I go out of my way to find different frostings to go with it for cupcakes. I use Fry's cocoa powder and the cake is always moist chocolatey and a hit.

  • jennhuang 5 Oct, 2014

    I made this cake because I was baking for 40 people and I wanted something simple that wouldn't use every bowl in the house. This recipe definitely comes together simply. I think I spent as much time flouring and cutting parchment for the pans as I did to mix the batter.
    However, I have to say the flavor is disappointing. It's not very chocolatey, rich, or celebratory, just kind of like an everyday snack cake. Using milk, cream or butter might help, but I will look for another recipe.

  • daneekaps 23 Oct, 2014

    Wow I am surprised you didn't like it. I've made this cake for years for every birthday & party I have. Maybe if you used a stronger-artisian- cocoa? It may just be easier to use another recipe as you said but I love this cake. This cake is delicious with Martha's brown sugar buttercream but maybe if you used a ganache between the layers or added a flavored simple syrup to the cake itself it would have felt more elegant and worthy of your party.

  • Ruechica 13 Feb, 2014

    This cake rises beautifully. I used a 6 inch round spring-form pan and poured the entire batter into one pan. It took about an hour and 10 minutes to bake. Super moist, though a little on the denser side. I cut the cake into three layers and used it for making a black forest cake for my sweetie :)

  • grazianolinda 10 Feb, 2014

    I've saved this recipe for 3 years, waiting for the right occasion; my mom's birthday party seemed like a god fit. This was very easy to make; I agree with the earlier review, I was little concerned with the loose consistency of the bake batter, but it baked just fine. The frosting was really good but pretty much chocolate spackle; I could not get the smooth appearance that the photo with the recipe shows. Fortunately the party goers did not mind, everyone truly loved this cake.

  • Bettz 24 Nov, 2013

    I have made this numerous times and it comes out perfect. I have also added a bit of espresso and cinnamon for a different taste. Delicious!

  • edunaway 4 Nov, 2013

    This is great- so simple and very delicious. One note, it did seem rather soupy when I poured it in the pans, but it came out beautifully.

  • MrsLeenards 3 Oct, 2013

    I want to make this cake for my daughter's party, how far in advance can I make it and cover it with rolled fondant? Thank you!

  • FrankyG 3 Jul, 2013

    I would like to make a 9 x 13 inch cake using this recipe, any suggestions???

  • ezrasalazar85 23 Apr, 2013

    Wow, that's really awesome recipe, I loved chocolate cake cake more than any other flavor in cakes.
    hot fill

  • JoMack 20 Apr, 2013

    I love this recipe but lately it has been sinking in the middle while it is baking. Any ideas why?

  • ckdexterhaven 17 Apr, 2013

    I have tried many chocolate cake recipes, and this is by far the family favorite. Absolutely delicious, and easy too! Like other reviewers, I have had problems with my 8 inch cake pans -- the batter often overflows while baking. To solve this problem, I sometimes do three layers (more room for frosting!) or use my 9 inch pans. Our favorite frosting for this cake is Hershey's chocolate buttercream, with lots of cocoa to make it nice and dark.

  • NicoleCh 16 Apr, 2013

    BlueFlu, are you sure your pans aren't 2in.? I think the word 'deep' is what throws some off but it's probably the norm. But if they're not, another reviewer said she used 9-in. pans and it still turned out nice, not flat.

  • BlueFlu 16 Apr, 2013

    I have normal cake pans, not 2" deep. Can you use 9" cake pans to contain the extra batter? Or, alternatively, three 8" cake pans that are normal size? I get so tired of recipes that do not take into consideration the fact that not all of us have outsized cake pans.

  • kfears 16 Apr, 2013

    Here's the cupcake option: Two standard muffin pans are used instead, with paper liners in the cups. The cups are filled 2/3 of the way with batter. The cupcakes are baked for 20 minutes at 350 F, with the pans being rotated halfway through the cooking time.

    Tip: If you're going to use Martha's frosting recipe, you should probably halve it or you'll have lots frosting left. Cupcakes don't need as much as a cake.

  • yummmm 27 Mar, 2013

    I cant even remember how many times i have made this. absolutely delicious and easy every single time. the chocolate cream cheese frosting is to die for. make this now!!!

  • jnokleby 28 Feb, 2013

    One suggestion about caramel sauce. When I need that in a recipe, I pick up an already made ice cream topping, you can microwave it a few seconds, have it ready to go. I buy this and keep in my pantry all the time.

  • Tootz7 14 Feb, 2013

    I forgot to mention that I made the chocolate ganache frosting. The recipe was very easy to follow and turned out perfectly! I put it over the layer of caramel in the middle and on top.

  • Tootz7 14 Feb, 2013

    I just made this amazing recipe for Valentine’s Day. I added a layer of homemade caramel sauce in the middle. The recipe was easy to follow and it turned our perfectly! I did use 2 x 10 inch round cake pans (55 minutes) and I had enough batter to make two very small, heart cakes for the kids (25 minutes). I used Pam baking, made with flour, (under and over the parchment paper). The cakes came out with ease. Clean up was a breeze!!!! ONE bowl, what a pleasure!!!

  • judithfaulkner 17 Dec, 2012

    added coffee in place of water, for extra depth of flavor

  • judithfaulkner 17 Dec, 2012

    used coffee in place of the water, not real discernible, but added some depth.

  • baking1234 29 Jul, 2012

    would it be good if i frost with chocolate whipped cream?

  • ljwaldron 28 Jul, 2012

    This is as good as it looks. But, if I am worried about calories, I'm only going to have a smallest sliver. Or even better, go with a WW desert. This is a guilty pleasure.

  • MaryClaire7 28 Jul, 2012

    This looks so goodt! Just one request, "Please Martha include the calorie count, etc. on all your great recipes."

  • shenzi 13 Sep, 2011

    Wow, I just made these and they are super soft when coming out of the oven. The next day they firmed up and were just as good. I made cupcakes with the recipe btw.

  • sarah9 21 Aug, 2010

    This was surprisingly good! Very easy to make, and delicious. Its relatively lower fat than most cake recipes as well. I used natural cocoa powder, and it still worked fine. Mine was also done after 30 minutes.

  • PenelopeRB 28 Jul, 2010

    Forgot to add that it baked a bit faster than the recipe stated (and yes, I have a separate oven temp gauge). Check 5-10 minutes ahead just in case. You don't want a dry cake!

  • PenelopeRB 28 Jul, 2010

    I made this for my four year old's birthday, she loved it. As did the adults. Very good, moist and chocolate-y. I used the frosting recipe suggested. Good combination.

  • nanopia 21 Jul, 2010

    I used 9 inch pans and it was still impressive and high. Tasted even better a day later cold from the fridge!

  • nanopia 21 Jul, 2010

    I just made this and it was amazing! So moist and delicious! I altered it just a bit by adding two tblsps espresso powder to the water part for my coffee-holic husband. You actually couldn't even taste it though. It just tastes super chocolatey! I also used vegetable oil instead of the fancy stuff, was perfect. One of the most perfect cakes I ever made :] Will be a classic in my recipes.

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