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Perfect Chocolate Cake

This is my absolute favourite chocolate cake recipe. The cake is incredibly moist and not too sweet. It’s light and springy to the touch but it holds up wonderfully under frosting and even fondant.

I’ve listed the ingredients with both measuring cup and weight measurements. Personally, I use measuring cups for this recipe. It's a fairly forgiving recipe and the small difference in each person’s level cup (including the difference between US and UK measuring cups) doesn’t affect the end result.

How to make this Perfect Chocolate Cake

whisk cocoa powder and hot water Perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe British Girl Bakes

I recommend making this with an electric mixer of some sort - a stand mixer or a handheld mixer. Before mixing anything, the first step is to prepare the liquid for this recipe. This is a combination of cocoa powder and hot water. Measure the cocoa powder into a bowl and add the hot water and whisk together. Using hot water helps the cocoa powder dissolves when you whisk it. Since everything should be at room temperature when you add it to the cake batter, this will then need time to cool. That's why you should prepare the cocoa powder mixture first.

ingredients for Perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe British Girl Bakes | British Girl Bakes

As with almost all baking recipes, it's important that al ingredients are at room temperature so that they combine easily. Butter should be taken out of the fridge at least two hours before you use it and to check that it's ready, you should be able to slice through it easily with a spatula.

how to cream butter and sugar to make a Perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe | British Girl Bakes

Mixing the Perfect Chocolate Cake batter

In a mixer with a beater or paddle attachment, mix the butter with the sugar on medium speed until pale and creamy. It will take about 2 minutes of your butter is at room temperature. You'll notice the mixture get lighter in colour and also fluffier. Scrape down to the bottom of the bowl once during mixing to make sure no butter is stuck at the bottom.

add eggs one at a time Perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe | British Girl Bakes

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing on the lowest speed after each one until it's incorporated into the batter, which will take about 30 seconds. Next, add the vanilla and mix on lowest speed for about another 30 seconds.

add dry ingredients in three parts Perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe | British Girl Bakes

In a bowl sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add a third of the flour mixture to the mixing bowl and mix on lowest speed until you can't see any clumps of flour in the batter.

mix until ingredient are just incorporated before adding next ingredients Perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe | British Girl Bakes

Add half of the cocoa mixture to the mixing bowl and mix on lowest speed to incorporate. The cocoa powder mixture will sit on top of the batter until you turn the mixer on. Then it will gradually mix into the rest of the batter. As soon as you don't see streaks of the dark brown cocoa powder mixture anymore, turn the mixer off.

Perfect Chocolate Cake batter will be runny | British Girl Bakes

Add the remaining flour mixture and mix to combine. Then add the remaining cocoa powder mixture, mixing until the batter is smooth. This is a runny batter, which makes it easy to pour or spoon into pans to bake. The recipe (listed in a printable and Pinnable format below) is for an 8" cake with three layers. I teach how to convert recipes into different shapes and sizes of cakes and also different quantities of cupcakes in my online course The Basics of Cake, where you'll learn to perfect the foundation of your cakes with video modules of every step of the process: mixing, baking, levelling and dividing layers, making fillings and frostings, assembling, frosting, decorating, storing, transporting and serving!

how to convert Perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe for different size cakes | British Girl Bakes

Bake the Perfect Chocolate Cake layers

Grease the inside base and sides of three 8" pans with butter, oil, or non-stick spray. (Or see below for a table converting this recipe into different sizes!) Divide the batter between three cake pans and bake at 175ºC or 350ºF for 38 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

let cakes cool in pans for 10 minutes before turning out Perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe | British Girl Bakes

Leave the cakes to cool in their pans for ten minutes. Use a spatula to loosen cake from the edges of the cake pan and then, as soon as you can touch the pans with your bare hands without burning yourself, turn the cakes onto a wire cooling rack. Leave then to cool completely before assembling your cake.

Make a cake with these Perfect Chocolate Cake layers

best chocolate buttercream frosting pairs well with Perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe British Girl Bakes copy | British Girl Bakes

This cake pairs perfectly with my Best Chocolate Buttercream or any flavour of my 4 Minute Buttercream.

assemble cake Perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe | British Girl Bakes

After assembling and frosting this cake you can leave it at room temperature for 3 days or in the fridge for up to a week. If you do refrigerate the cake, leave it at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving it so that it comes to room temperature, when it tastes the best!

slices of Perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe | British Girl Bakes

After slicing it, to prevent the cake drying out you can cover the cut side of the cake tightly with cling film or Saran Wrap.

Print or pin the recipe below or scroll down for a table with conversions into different sizes of cakes. Watch the video at the bottom of the page for more visual, step-by-step instructions!

Print
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slicing perfect chocolate cake recipe tutorial british girl bakes copy

Perfect Chocolate Cake


  • Author: British Girl Bakes
  • Yield: A three-layer 8" cake

Description

This is my absolute favourite chocolate cake recipe. The cake is incredibly moist and not too sweet. It’s light but it holds up wonderfully under frosting and even fondant.


Ingredients

Units
  • 2 1/2 cups hot water
  • 1 1/4 cups cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 1/3 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

1. In a bowl, whisk together hot water and cocoa powder until the cocoa powder has dissolved. Set aside to come to room temperature.

2. In a mixer with a beater attachment, mix butter with sugar on medium speed until pale and creamy, about two minutes. Scrape down to the bottom of the bowl once during mixing to make sure no butter is stuck at the bottom.

3. Add eggs one at a time, mixing on the lowest speed after each addition until incorporated, about 30 seconds.

4. Add vanilla and mix on lowest speed for about 30 seconds to combine.

5. In a bowl sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add a third of the flour mixture to the mixing bowl and mix on lowest speed to incorporate.

6. Add half of the cocoa mixture to the mixing bowl and mix on lowest speed to incorporate. Repeat with another third of the flour mixture, then the remaining cocoa powder mixture, and then the remaining flour mixture. Mix just until the ingredients are combined.

7. Grease the inside (base and sides) of three 8" pans with non-stick spray, butter or oil. Divide batter between the cake pans.

8. Bake at 175ºC or 350ºF for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

9. Let cakes cool in their pans for 10 minutes. Use a spatula to loosen cake from the edges of the cake pan and then turn onto a wire cooling rack. Leave to cool completely.

Notes

You can use salted instead of unsalted butter but if you do, omit the salt.

This recipe works best with plain flour, also called all-purpose flour. 

How to Convert Perfect Chocolate Cake Batter

My Perfect Chocolate Cake recipe can be converted into lots of sizes of cakes by adjusting the quantities of the ingredients.

I like to divide my cake batter between three cake pans to make three layers for tall cakes, which are about six inches high. You'll see those tall cakes in any of my tutorials, like Parchment Paper Cake Decorating Hacks or 4 Ways To Write On Cakes. In case you prefer standard height cakes of around 4 inches high, I've also listed the quantities for the standard height version of each size of cake.

Whatever size of cake you're making, follow the same steps in this Perfect Chocolate Cake recipe but use the quantities of ingredients listed below.

Standard Height Cakes

For standard height cakes of about 4 inches tall, use the ingredients in the quantities listed below and divide the batter into two cake pans.

Ingredients2-layer 6" cake2-layer 8" cake2-layer 10" cake
Hot water1 cup
235ml
2 cups
475ml
3 cups
710ml
Cocoa powder1/2 cup
45g
1 cup
85g
1 1/2 cups
130g
Unsalted butter1/2 cup
114g
1 cup
227g
1 1/2 cups
341g
Sugar (white, granulated or caster)1 cup and 2 tablespoons
225g
2 1/4 cups
450g
3 1/2 cups
675g
Eggs246
Vanilla extract1 teaspoon2 teaspoons1 tablespoon
All purpose flour (plain flour)1 1/3 cups
167g
2 2/3 cups
333g
4 cups
500g
Baking soda1 teaspoon2 teaspoons1 tablespoon
Baking powder1/8 teaspoon1/4 teaspoon1/2 teaspoon
Total weight of batter924g1848g2776g
Weight of batter per pan for 2 pans462g924g1338g
Baking time38 minutes50 minutes48 minutes

Tall Cakes

For tall cakes of about 6 inches tall, use the ingredients in the quantities listed below and divide the batter into three cake pans. I find that this makes for the perfect ratio of cake to filling and frosting and it also provides lots of space on the sides of the cake for decorations.

Ingredients3-layer 6" cake3-layer 8" cake3-layer 10" cake
Hot water1 1/2 cups
355ml
3 cups
710ml
4 1/2 cups
1065g
Cocoa powder3/4 cup
65g
1 1/2 cups
130g
2 1/4 cups
195g
Unsalted butter3/4 cup
170g
1 1/2 cups
341g
2 1/4 cups
511g
Sugar (white, granulated or caster)1 3/4 cups
338g
3 1/2 cups
675g
5 1/4 cups
1013g
Eggs369
Vanilla extract1 1/2 teaspoons1 tablespoon1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon
All purpose flour (plain flour)2 cups
250g
4 cups
500g
6 cups
750g
Baking soda1 1/2 teaspoons1 tablespoon1 tablespoon and 1 1/2 teaspoons
Baking powder1/4 teaspoon1/2 teaspoon3/4 teaspoon
Total weight of batter1388g2776g4164g
Weight of batter per pan for 3 pans462g925g1388g
Baking time at 350F38 minutes50 minutes48 minutes

Here's a video of how to make my Perfect Chocolate Cake, step-by-step. Please ask me any questions in the comments below!

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64 comments on “Perfect Chocolate Cake”

  1. Hi!

    Want to try this recipe for my son's 6th bday.

    How much should I add to make a 10", double layered cake?

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Yvonne! You'll find the quantities for a 10" cake (both standard height and for a tall cake) in a conversion table below the printable recipe 🙂

  2. I have previously baked it into two 6 inch tins and it was just perfect. There was a really helpful table stating how to bake this cake into to two layers of tins of all different sizes.
    Now this table has gone I know longer have the recipe and I’m quite distraught.

    1. Hi Helen! I've put a table with the ingredients for 6", 8" and 10" cakes, both standard heigh (two layers) and tall (three layers) below the printable recipe. Hope that helps!

  3. I do love this chocolate cake recipe it is the best I’ve baked so far I would highly recommend it.
    My previous comment mentioned I was distraught (because of how much I love this cake lol 🙂 that the 6 inch cake recipe quantities were no longer on the site.
    I messaged Emily and she very explained that the website is being updated and very kindly sent me the quantities. Thankyou.

  4. Hi Emily,

    Please do put back that helpful chart for baking cakes with different pan sizes with batter weights and other details. I had bookmarked it to bake for a family gathering... now cant find it. Awaiting to bake this lovely cake soon after...

    Thank you in advance

  5. Hi Emily,

    I had earlier bookmarked a page with batter weights for different pan sizes and other details to make this lovely cake. I cant seem to find it now. Please update it so that i can make it for an upcoming family gathering. Eagerly awaiting...

      1. It's ready now! You'll find a conversation table with the ingredient quantities for different sizes of two-layer and three-layer cakes below the printable recipe

    1. Hi Annetta! I've put a table with the ingredients for 6", 8" and 10" cakes, both standard heigh (two layers) and tall (three layers) below the printable recipe. Hope that helps!

    1. Self-raising flour is tricky because it includes more baking powder than the original recipe. You can try using it and omitting both the baking powder and baking soda. Please let me know how it turns out!

  6. This makes the most delicious cake! It is so moist and considering how much sugar you use it is not overly sweet at all. Together with Emily’s buttercream - wow. It’s my go to birthday cake recipe. Thank you for adding the recipe variations Emily 😊

  7. Hi Emily,

    Thanks a ton for updating the conversion chart for the batter quantity for different cake pans. Love your cakes and cake videos!

  8. I love this recipe but i'm in the UK and you have changed it so there are no longer grams and Ml! Please can you put this back up somewhere? Wish I had taken a screen shot! I dont have cups!

    1. Hi! Thanks for your patience - the recipe table with conversions for grams and ml as well as cups is below the printable recipe, with different sizes and heights too 🙂

  9. Can I use the 8 inch 2 pan recipe for 9 inch 1 pan batter?? I would love to try this recipe, will surely let you know how it turned out.

    Also,I just love the way you present everything in detail and watching your videos are so satisfying.

    God bless 🙌 🙏
    Keep doing more if it ❤

    1. I don't recommend it because you'll have a VERY thick layer, which won't bake evenly since it will take so long for the middle to cook through. If you want a single 9" layer of cake I would use the 6" recipe for 2 layers instead 🙂

      And thank you so much for your lovely comment!!

  10. Hi thanks for the recipe I gonna try it on my birthday. could you please put the receipt of peanut butter cream please I would like to try it.

  11. Hi! I am making number cakes so need to be able to slice them across horizontally so I can ice in-between. Should I follow your standard cake recipe for rough tin size and then slice?

  12. I've made this cake before and it was really delicious, thanks for the recipe! Would the batter work for making cupcakes too?

    1. Yes, absolutely! You can scale the recipe up or down and for each egg in the recipe you'll get 7 chocolate cupcakes. They don't rise a lot during baking so you can fill the wrappers about 3/4 full

  13. Hello
    This looks great. I am looking to bake a birthday cake and cover with fondant . What temp and time do I use for a fan oven please ? Also do you have chocolate ganache recipe which I could use to go under the fondant ?

  14. Hi Emily! I’m so excited to try this recipe today but I was just wondering, are the oven settings for a fan assisted oven? 🙂 Thank you! Xx

    1. Hi! No, they're for a conventional oven without a fan but if you want to use a fan you can try reducing the temperature by 20C and check the cake 10 minutes before the baking time because it will bake more quickly. Good luck!

    1. How many tins do you have? You can follow the recipe quantities in either table at the bottom of the page - the height of each cake layer is the same for tall (3 layer) or standard height (2 layer) 6" cakes.

    1. Yes! This chocolate cake can be baked as a sheet cake and cut into numbers or used in number cake molds

  15. I think something may have gone awry with metric quantities for cocoa and flour on the tall cakes as the amounts seem very large?

  16. Your recipe is wonderful but I would like to have a eggless version of this recipe.

    -With love💜

  17. Hi! First off cake tastes delicious!baked 6" cakes 3 layers, But my sponge turned out quite short about 1.5" tall only.. I thought for tall cakes sponge should be higher no? Also is there a secret how to bake deep sponges like in PME 4" deep pans, my centre just doesn't cook properly 😭 would really appreciate some help please!

    1. The layers should be about 1.5" tall each, and if you follow the recipe quantities for tall cakes you'll make three layers so with the filling in between and the frosting on the outside, your cake should be 5 or 6 inches tall. If you want to make your cake even taller you can double the recipe for standard height cakes and that will make a cake that's 7 or 8 inches tall.

  18. Fantastic blog videos I love BGB
    Easy to follow inspirational vids . Love the website

  19. Is it granulated sugar you use or caster? I’m wanting to attempt your recipe it looks amazing

  20. I tried this recipe and it came out well. In short it's now my go to chocolate cake recipe. Thanks for the recipe

  21. OMG
    This recipe seems sooo interesting 😍
    Im too excited to try🤩✨

    Thank you soo much for sharing your recipe with us❤️❤️
    From: Mozambique

  22. Love your videos, is this recipe also suitable for cupcakes? If so, what adjustments should be made? Same question for your vanilla cake. Thanks!

    1. Hi! No adjustments necessary - this Perfect Chocolate Cake recipe converts perfectly into cupcakes. You can scale the recipe up or down and for each egg in the recipe you'll get 7 cupcakes, so the recipe with 1 egg makes 7 cupcakes but if you triple the recipe so that there are 3 eggs, you'll get 21 cupcakes. The Very Vanilla recipe works perfectly for cupcakes too but you'll get 6 cupcakes for each egg in the recipe. Hope that makes sense!

  23. Hi Emily
    Would like to do your chocolate cake in a 6inch square tin what amount would your recommend i need 4 layers thankyou

    1. It depends how tall you want the cake to be. I would use the 6" recipe in the table for tall cakes to make 4 layers (or for 2 layers and then you can divide them in half horizontally after baking)

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