Cookbook Club: Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream

My mom is not a baker, per se. She is able, but not willing. Birthdays at my house involved some mighty fine desserts, but they were all from a gourmet shop that she worked in, which was easier, and at times, cheaper than do-it-yourself. I have often delved into the variety of cake mixes available on the market, and I do love some good old-fashioned boxed yellow cake with chocolate frosting (in fact, I might have had that for breakfast this morning…but I won’t say for sure).

My cookbook club is about exploring new food and trying to make things for the first time, so I decided to try my hand at making a layer cake from scratch. It was my first attempt, and it was tasty. It was also very rich, and no one could finish an entire slice, but I was told that the leftovers were brought to a bunch of kids who quickly devoured their share. So, my conclusion would be to make this for a kid’s birthday party, but cut very small slices for all.

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream

For the Cake (via
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups hot water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 2 9″ cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper, and butter paper. Dust the pans with cocoa; tap out extra.

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 center comes out clean), rotating pans halfway through baking.

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.

Chocolate Buttercream
(adapted from Billy’s Buttercream recipe on

2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
3 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
5 cups confectioners’ sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add chocolate until just combined. Add milk, vanilla, and sugar; mix on medium until well combined, being careful not to overmix.

With a butter knife, frost top of trimmed cake layer. Place the other layer on top. Frost top and sides of cake.

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