Chocolate Layer Cake

A discussion of chocolate cake should always be prefaced by Gourmet columnist Laurie Colwin: “Anyone who spends time in the kitchen eventually comes to realize that what she or he is looking for is the perfect chocolate cake.” Each cook has decided preferences when it comes to his ideal chocolate cake, but they usually fall somewhere on the spectrum of Colwin’s three types: flourless, fudgy, and cocoa.

Today what I have for you is the third on that list: a tender, moist, fluffy cocoa cake that is still deep, dark, and chocolatey. Oh, and super quick.

Some chocolate cakes are completely flourless — quivering mousses of pure cacao. Others are closer to a brownie with a crackly crust. Some cakes, which for some reason seem to be most frequently found in grocery stores, appear to be dry sponge cakes colored brown. The latter put me off chocolate cake for a long time — I’m a fudge girl, myself. But this recipe changed that for me.

This is a cake cake, with a traditional cakey texture — light, spongy, and moist. It has a beautiful shiny top with a springy middle, and it is also an easy, one-bowl recipe. I adapted this from a Hershey’s recipe; it makes sense, I suppose, that they would have perfected a chocolate cake by now.

It’s really perfect cake — tasting deeply of chocolate, with dark, almost bitter notes that penetrate the whole bite. It isn’t Death by Chocolate; it isn’t a dense fudgy flourless torte; it’s a simple yet true chocolate cake, suitable for layering and frosting. Basically, it’s the recipe you’re looking for when you want a layer cake, a birthday cake for a budding chocolate-lover, a base for German chocolate cake, or any others in the host of reasons to make chocolate cake cake — not a pot de creme on a platter.

More Cake & Icing Recipes
Looking for the icing recipe? I used a very basic cocoa buttercream for the cake in the photos (whip butter for several minutes with cocoa and powdered sugar, adjusting each until you get the flavor you want). But here are a few more recipes in case you are looking for something else. Also, would you prefer yellow cake to chocolate? Try the one below — it’s my favorite.