Rating: 3.68 stars
582 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 161
  • 4 star values: 193
  • 3 star values: 135
  • 2 star values: 64
  • 1 star values: 29

Baking an easy dessert like this chocolate cake can be almost as thrilling for a birthday girl or boy as blowing out the candles. 

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Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper, and butter paper. Dust the pans with cocoa; tap out extra.

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  • Sift cocoa, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar into bowl. Beat in oil, buttermilk, vanilla, eggs, and hot water one at a time, using a mixer set at low. Beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.

  • Pour batter into pans. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean; rotate the pans halfway through and remove cakes from the oven.

  • Let cakes cool in pans on wire racks, 20 minutes, before inverting to remove. Discard paper. Cool completely on racks, top side up. Cut off top of one layer.

  • With a butter knife, frost top of trimmed layer.

  • Place the other layer on top. Frost top and sides of cake.

Try These Variations -- They're a Piece of Cake
  • Tiny and Tasty: Cupcakes are great for parties at school -- they require no cutting, and liners come in all different sizes and designs. After you make the chocolate-cake batter, fill each liner so it's three-quarters full. Our recipe will yield about 30 standard-size cupcakes; bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes (25 to 35 minutes for mini sizes). Once cool, cover them with your favorite frosting.

  • Bars with Crunch: Instead of using frosting, sprinkle topping over chocolate squares. Pour cake batter into a 9-by-13-inch prepared baking pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Mix 1 cup each flaked sweetened coconut, walnuts, and semisweet chocolate chips; stir in 1 tablespoon melted butter. Remove cake from oven; sprinkle mix on top. Loosely cover with foil; continue baking, about 45 minutes.

Cook's Notes

Tools and materials: two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans, parchment paper, flour sifter, electric mixer and bowl, rubber spatula, long serrated knife.

Reviews (64)

582 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 161
  • 4 star values: 193
  • 3 star values: 135
  • 2 star values: 64
  • 1 star values: 29
Rating: 3.0 stars
04/15/2020
Step 5 is to "frost it" with a butter knife? With what frosting? Where is the recipe for the frosting?
Rating: 5 stars
08/03/2019
I’ve tried this recipe a few years back and needed a chocolate recipe again recently(about two weeks ago). It worked out perfectly for me. Either use a deeper pan(3”) or 3 pans because it’s very thin but rises nicely. It’s flavorful and moist. I’m about to use it again. Pay attention to the toothpick trick also watch the sides of the pans. When the cake starts pulling from the side it’s done. Not pulling it out in time will cause it to dry out... quickly. Before the timer is up... check it! Every oven heats differently. Some are too hot some not hot enough
Rating: 5 stars
02/23/2019
I have made this recipe at least a dozen times. I follow it PRECISELY. It comes out perfect every time. I looked at some of the other reviews. I cannot understand what went wrong. This is the most delicious cake I have ever made. I almost know the recipe by heart.
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Rating: 5 stars
02/16/2019
I have made this cake twice now. It is very good. I can't imagine why it only has an overall rating over 3 stars, its a 5 start recipe!
Rating: 5 stars
01/31/2019
I was really concerned regarding the consistency of this cake after I added the hot water and it became very liquid. But I stuck with it and I’m glad I did! I used two 8-inch cake pans, buttered and dusted with cocoa powder and lined with parchment as the recipe suggested. Then I let the cakes cool in the pans for 20 minutes as instructed. The result was a lovely, delicious cake with a delicately soft and moist texture. I wish the recipe addressed this point, because if you follow the instructions to the tee this cake will be a hit. Yes, the batter was more watery than expected, but the result was phenomenal.
Rating: 1 stars
11/25/2018
Turned out terrible. Adding hot water? Turned it into liquid mush and made WAY more than the recipe indicated. Something is simply incorrect across the board on this recipe. I just burned 3 pans and nearly burned my house down. Absolutely disappointed.
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Rating: 5 stars
10/09/2018
It is an easy recipe and the cake is delicious, even without the frosting.
Rating: 2 stars
10/04/2018
This recipe makes 3- 8” cakes, not 2 as it states.
Rating: 1 stars
09/21/2018
I used one 9" pan and the cake did not rise
Rating: 5 stars
08/28/2018
I will be inspired by your recipe to put in my blog here in Brazil. But I will give you full credits. https://receitas-que-emagrecem.com.br
Rating: 5 stars
01/28/2018
This is such a delicious cake. We did not have buttermilk but read somewhere to add lemon juice to your milk if you do not have buttermilk. You can google the ratio on that...but it was delicious!
Rating: 1 stars
01/28/2018
All 3 layers of the cake came apart in pieces. Evidently the recipe needs more eggs to hold it together. I had to make a trifle with the pieces. I wanted a layer cake and the cake did have a nice taste but I was disappointed it didn't hold together
Rating: 5 stars
09/06/2017
I used 1 1/2 Cups of hot coffee with 1/2 tsp. espresso powder instead of water. Cake was delicious and satisfying. Served with whipped cream and cherries in heavy sauce. Excellent
Rating: Unrated
06/01/2017
This cake is loved very much by my w[filtered] family So we make this cake twice or thrice in a month. We want to give thinks to you by heart for giving such superb recipe. Another cake that they like is given on the site : http://www.cakengifts.in/birthday-cakes http://www.cakengifts.in/anniversary-cakes http://www.cakengifts.in/cake-delivery-in-noida http://www.cakengifts.in/cake-delivery-in-golf-course-noida http://www.cakengifts.in/cake-delivery-in-greater-noida http://www.cakengifts.in/cake-delivery-in-sector18-noida
Rating: Unrated
03/04/2017
This chocolate cake was super-easy and super-delicious. Very moist, my w[filtered] family loved it!
Rating: Unrated
01/08/2017
How and how long can I store it?
Rating: Unrated
02/08/2016
Substitution friendly!!! So I didn't change much but we don't do milk, so I used what we had ... Hemp milk with apple cider vinegar. I would say you could get away with 1 cup less of sugar, but not overly sweet. I made 1 x 10" spring-form cake and baked for 50 min and 12 standard cupcakes with the remained and baked for 25 min. Great recipe. This is our go to now for birthday cakes. Thanks so much!!
Rating: Unrated
12/30/2015
This recipe reminds me of my Grandma's...especially the use of the buttermilk! I can't wait to try it and see if it reminds me of her :). Thanks!
Rating: 5 stars
12/27/2015
Before anyone makes this cake: This recipe is double the ingredients of the One Bowl Chocolate Cake, which fits into 2 eight-inch cake pans. So, consider that when picking pans for this cake. I made a 9 x 13 cake along with two small loaf cakes (mini-loaf bread pans) for my office. Easier for some people to take a slice of cake on the road instead of a piece of cake and a fork). This cake is now my go-to Chocolate Cake. Moist. Great chocolate flavor. Fabulous!
Rating: Unrated
11/14/2015
PLEASE READ!! My oven is a disaster, put this into 3 pans not two!!!!
Rating: Unrated
10/07/2015
Hi there! I'm making a 'skate board's cake and would like to use this recipe for the cake being used. However, I need to bake it in standard sized bread pans. Does anyone know what the time and temp for cooking would be? Hope everyone's day is going well!
Rating: Unrated
09/04/2015
I am about to make this delicious look cake! I will come back with another comment with my feedback :) The only thing I am disagreeing so far with this recipe is that it doesn't say how many pans to use! It just says "pans", so if this was your first time making a layered cake or first time cooking it would be confusing! Also if a child tried making it it might confuse them. But thats all for now! PEACE OUT! I am going to make this cake and eat it
Rating: Unrated
03/01/2015
Does anyone know the volume of the batter this recipe makes? Please help me out. Thanks!
Rating: Unrated
12/08/2014
Its the best chocolate cake i have ever tasted. I am baking for more than a year, but this is my favourite. I am baking this for first time and its really yummy.
Rating: Unrated
12/30/2013
This cake has great consistency but tastes profoundly of baking soda, what's up with that? happy birthday to me!
Rating: 5 stars
12/16/2013
This cake was absolutely delicious! Everyone loved it. I like how it makes thick layers!
Rating: Unrated
12/02/2013
Hello from the Cebu, Philippines! This is my 3rd attempt at baking a moist chocolate cake. I used another recipe in the first two, and both were a total failure. Thank you for this recipe. I baked it today and the result was unbelievably good. I have a very small gas oven, 350 degrees was just too hot, so I had it around 325 and it was done in 50 minutes in a 9x13 pan. I turned the cake halfway thru. I will be proud to make this for my friends this Christmas!
Rating: Unrated
11/17/2013
Made with dark chocolate coco because that's what I had on hand. Batter is VERY thin but cake baked perfectly & is so moist. It's just a bit dense, which I like, but tender & delicious. Be careful when adding the hot water because the thin batter flew out of the mixing bowl, even at low speed, before I put on the bowl ring. Baked in a 9 x 13 pan, checked at 45 minutes, & it wasn't quiet done so baked 5 more minutes. I used Pam to prepare the pan. This recipe makes a lot of batter, so the baked cake came
Rating: Unrated
10/30/2013
Just came out of the oven about 30 minutes ago and I cut the top off to make it even. I tasted a piece and it's SUPER MOIST! I hope it stays like this through cooling overnight and frosting tomorrow. It's my first cake from scratch and I almost set my dorm's fire alarms off at 12:30 a.m. because one of the pans overflowed! So far, it's been worth opening windows and covering fire alarms ;) I hope my boyfriend likes it.
Rating: Unrated
08/15/2013
This seems to be the exact same recipe as her One-Bowl Chocolate Cake... only doubled to yield a higher cake. Correct?
Rating: Unrated
06/08/2013
I just used this recipe for making my first ever chocolate birthday cake. It tasted amazing! I felt it tasted as good as the one i bought for my daughters last birthday. I used white chocolate buttercream frosting dyed pink and it looked great. I had to level the cake with a knife as the top was rounded but maybe all cakes do that, i do not bake, this was my first go. It got great comments from everyone. First timers should give it a go.
Rating: Unrated
05/27/2013
Absolutely one of The best chocolate cakes I have ever made. Moist, rich chocolate flavor, and lots of rave reviews from my harshest critics. I made it with my 10 year old daughter and 4 of her friends during the baking class which she organized, the results of which go to her class the next day ( I have been baking birthday cakes for them for years and never have I seen a bunch of pickier kids). They all loved it and her teacher who is always on a diet and never eats the children's cakes actually ate one and took a piece home! I will be making it again, later today. I have a birthday girl this will be perfect for. I paired this with the chocolate frosting recipe from the January 2006 issue of Martha Stewart Living "Celebrating 15 years of cakes for every season" Page 163. There was a cake for every month. This was June's cake, which is very similar to this recipe, just butter instead of oil, and a little less sugar. You should re-issue that issue! Excellent repetoire that I refer to again and again.
Rating: Unrated
06/09/2012
Delicious! This cake was really moist and tasty. It's the first cake I've made from scratch, and it was a big hit. It will seem like there's too much batter, but it all bakes perfectly. I will make this again.
Rating: Unrated
12/10/2011
Agree with jenbyrne...after cleaning my oven still had enough batter for 3 layers!
Rating: Unrated
10/08/2011
Just made this cake today, turned out great! I used two nine inch cake pans and baked it for about 45 min. turning once halfway through baking. I will definitely make this cake again!
Rating: 5 stars
07/19/2011
Absolutely amazing!! This was a huge hit with my family. I modified it a bit to make a black forest cake and it turned out delicious! See it here... http://www.epicureanmom.com/2010/04/black-forest-cake.html
Rating: Unrated
04/06/2011
This recipe is identical to her other one "Chocolate Cake for Cupcake Pops" and that one lists 1 1/2 cups of hot water in the ingredients.
Rating: Unrated
04/03/2011
How much hot water are we to add. It doesn't say, and I'm in the middle of making this cake. HELP
Rating: Unrated
04/01/2011
Why does it say to add hot water? It doesn't say how much to add?
Rating: Unrated
02/09/2011
Anytime I recipe calls for 3 cups of flour, you can get three layers out of it.
Rating: Unrated
12/15/2010
This can be confusing, but what she means is that it will make one 8-inch layer cake consisting of two layers. If it were just going to make one 8-inch round cake, it wouldn't be called a layer cake.
Rating: Unrated
12/11/2010
So it says one 8" layer but then when you read the directions it says to "butter the PANS" and then goes on to say there will be two cakes to layer and all - so Martha needs to change the title at the top and say makes TWO 8" layers!
Rating: Unrated
11/14/2010
TOO MUCH BATTER!! All over my oven!
Rating: Unrated
05/06/2010
Turns out you CAN half this recipe, I used 2 eggs, halved everything else, and used a 9" round pan and it turned out great!
Rating: Unrated
05/03/2010
Does anyone know if it's ok to half this recipe? If so, use 2 eggs or 1?
Rating: Unrated
04/30/2010
I just made this cake and the recipe made enough batter for 3-4 8inch cakes! I re-read the ingredients and I definitely didn't mess things up.
Rating: Unrated
03/06/2010
Can some one please tell me what frosting this is and maybe provide a link to it too =) thanks in advance, Either leave a comment and i will check later. OR email me at:Mohammad.Khoja@nixorcollege.edu.pk.
Rating: Unrated
03/06/2010
Can some one please tell me what frosting this is and maybe provide a link to it too =) thanks in advance, Either leave a comment and i will check later. OR email me at:Mohammad.Khoja@nixorcollege.edu.pk.
Rating: Unrated
09/12/2009
Best chocolate cake I've ever made!! so rich, so fudgy, so moist! :)
Rating: Unrated
10/31/2008
I really want to make this cake.. so if anyone kind enough to post it or send to my email add=mini_2505@yahoo.com
Rating: Unrated
10/14/2008
Same goes for me....I'd love to make this cake for hubbie's birthday this Friday. Does anyone have the recipe and directions? Maybe someone can post this directly onto the comments this way others can get it easier. Thanks so much!
Rating: Unrated
10/08/2008
Ohhhh i thought i will beable to make a chocolate cake, but there is nothing showing above any body can help plssss
Rating: Unrated
09/12/2008
PLEASE send me the ingredients and directions. They are not listed!!! Please e-mail them to me. simonerhurwitz@yahoo.com
Rating: Unrated
09/12/2008
I have made this cake before and really liked it, but now the site is not showing the ingredients or the directions. HELP!!!!
Rating: Unrated
09/12/2008
Where are the ingredients?? They are not listed on the recipe. The directions also are missing?? Please e-mail me them. waynorere@verizon.net
Rating: Unrated
04/07/2008
I have finally found a cake that it's simple to make and delicious to eat. My quest is over after a year of research, and the best part is that holds very well at room temperature, 5 days. I have made it with vanilla frosting and with chocolate frosting, delicious either way. I baked it in a 10x3in round pan at 325 degrees. Don't open oven door for the first 45 minutes, or it will sink a little bit, but still good to eat! DELICIOUS and excellent chocolate after taste!
Rating: Unrated
04/07/2008
I have finally found a cake that it's simple to make and delicious to eat. My quest is over after a year of research, and the best part is that holds very well at room temperature, 5 days. I have made it with vanilla frosting and with chocolate frosting, delicious either way. I baked it in a 10x3in round pan at 325 degrees. Don't open oven door for the first 45 minutes, or it will sink a little bit, but still good to eat! DELICIOUS and excellent chocolate after taste!
Rating: Unrated
03/03/2008
Also, my cakes sunk a little in the middle, since I live at high altitudes. But, the layers are SO tall that it's easily remedied. I would definitely make this again.
Rating: Unrated
03/03/2008
My cakes overflowed from the pans, so next time, I would either A) bake them in three 8x2 round pans, or B) use 8x3 inch pans. Since it overflowed, it was very difficult to get the cakes out of the pans since the cake was stuck to the rim of the pans. One layer had big chunks of cake that fell off, so I cut the other cake in half, and cut the top off the other one, and made a 3-layer cake. It was very moist and chocolatey, but not as light as a cake made with cake flour.
Rating: Unrated
01/03/2008
I made this cake for a Christmas party I was going to. There were also some chefs at that party and they too raved about it. It was so moist I couldn't even believe it. I made it as a 9x13 instead, it raised up pretty high and almost over flowed, but did not luckily. After I layered it, it was perfect for decorating! I even added a bit of peppermint extract to make it extra Christmassy!! mmm
Rating: Unrated
11/23/2007
This chocolate cake receipe is amazing! I made it for my daughters first birthday and one of the guests at the party was a chef and he raved about it. I then used the same receipe for my sister in-laws baby shower and everyone loved it.
Rating: Unrated
11/23/2007
This chocolate cake receipe is amazing! I made it for my daughters first birthday and one of the guests at the party was a chef and he raved about it. I then used the same receipe for my sister in-laws baby shower and everyone loved it.
Rating: Unrated
11/23/2007
This chocolate cake receipe is amazing! I made it for my daughters first birthday and one of the guests at the party was a chef and he raved about it. I then used the same receipe for my sister in-laws baby shower and everyone loved it.
Rating: Unrated
11/23/2007
This chocolate cake receipe is amazing! I made it for my daughters first birthday and one of the guests at the party was a chef and he raved about it. I then used the same receipe for my sister in-laws baby shower and everyone loved it.
Rating: Unrated
11/07/2007
I made this cake for my daughter's first birthday and everyone loved it. It is very moist and tastes great.