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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




  • 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

Cook's Note

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


  1. Step 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.

      In this step:

  2. Step 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.

      In this step:

  3. Step 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.

Martha Stewart Living, April 2010



Reviews (27)

  • 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 :)

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 3 Jul, 2013

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

  • 23 Apr, 2013

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

  • 20 Apr, 2013

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!!!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!!!

  • 17 Dec, 2012

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

  • 17 Dec, 2012

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

  • 29 Jul, 2012

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

  • 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.

  • 28 Jul, 2012

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.