A close second for J when deciding on his birthday treat this month was this chocolate cake with his all time favourite chocolate cream cheese frosting. When I asked you on IG, a vast majority picked this chocolate cake over trifle. So clearly you all are chocolate cake fans! But J wanted trifle. What you gonna do? ;P
But of course I could not leave all you chocolate cake fans hanging! And also, very conveniently, I also happen to have another sibling (my not-so-much-a-baby-anymore-but-I-still-call-him-my-baby-brother) brother who happens to have a birthday in July! So lots of excuses to make chocolate cake! 😉
When he tried this cake he said it is a lot like how he imagined the Matilda chocolate cake would taste. So we can also call this the Matilda Chocolate Cake Recipe too! 😉
This one is a good one to have up your sleeve as it can be made in one bowl without a mixer!
Chocolate Cake without a Mixer
This one is a good one to have up your sleeve as it can be made in one bowl without a mixer! I did tweak the original recipe a bit. So below is my version. But I kept the key tips and tricks the same.
Just a large bowl and a bit of elbow grease are all you need. Mix up the dry ingredients first then add the wet. The batter itself will turn out quite runny, don’t be alarmed at that. It will bake up just fine. Even if you make a few small mistakes (like I did) trust me, it will all work out!
Trust the process!
Secrets for an Extra Moist Chocolate Cake
This recipe has two secrets for getting the softest and most moist chocolate cake:
First, I use cake flour in place of all-purpose flour. Anytime you use cake flour in a baked goods it will automatically help your bakes turn out softer and just more tender. Can you use all-purpose flour in this recipe? Absolutely you can. The difference is subtle. But worth it if you have cake flour.
Or if you want to, you can make your own cake flour at home:
- For every cup of cake flour you need in the recipe, just take 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Remove 2 tablespoons and replace with 2 tablespoons of corn flour or corn starch. Sift together to mix well and boom, DIY cake flour!
The second secret for this cake is adding boiling water to the mixture at the very end.
Adding hot water to the cake batter does a few things for this cake. The hot water helps to bloom the chocolate and coffee flavours, really helping to intensify the flavour of the cake. The hot water also helps lead to a softer, fluffier cake with a much more smooth texture. The baking powder in the batter is activated even more with the addition of hot water resulting in a much fluffier cake!
The hot water also helps get everything mixed together really well, so you avoid having any dry pockets of flour or sugar. So it makes this recipe pretty foolproof too!
Even though this cake is an easy one to make, there were plenty of mistakes I made while baking. The good news is, there are a lot of easy fixes to the mistakes made, so I do think this recipe is quite forgiving that way. I mean can you tell there were mistakes made when you look at this cake?
Heres a few common issues and how to fix them when baking a cake:
Why did my cake sink while baking?
Since this cake uses both baking powder and baking soda for the rise, as soon as you add the wet ingredients to the dry, the rising agents start to work immediately! So do not waste time between mixing the batter and getting it in the oven. The faster you can work to getting the batter in the oven as soon as it is mixed, the better!
Mine did end up sinking a bit in the centre because I took my time to take pictures and videos of the process for the blog and instagram. Which definitely slowed me down!
Also try not to open up the oven while the cake is baking. Especially in the first 20 minutes when the rise is happening. Any little opening of the oven door will mean cold air sneaks in and will cause the cake to deflate! So no peeking! Your oven is doing its job! Leave it alone! 😉
Why did my batter overflow while baking?
This cake batter rises up quite a bit while baking. Make sure to allow plenty of space for the rise to happen! I was over zealous with this recipe and filled up my pans to almost 3/4 of the way up. Big mistake! Don’t go past 2/3 full with your cake batter. Trust me! Same goes for if you are turning these into cupcakes. Give them room to grow! If you have leftover batter, better for you to get another pan and cook a smaller cake than over fill the existing pans!
How to avoid crumbs getting into the frosting?
When you are icing the cake, especially this one which is quite soft when freshly baked, you should always start with a thin layer of frosting called the crumb coat. Which does exactly what it sounds like: it coats the cake and captures all the crumbs.
Essentially you spread a thin layer of frosting all over the cake like you would spread butter. Some crumbs will get mixed into the frosting on the cake, but that is ok. Refrigerate this lightly iced cake with the crumb coat for at least 30 minutes. Once that crumb coat has had a chance to harden, you will have a much easier time of icing the whole cake with the remaining icing!
Icing can also be used to cover up any imperfections or ‘glue’ together any cracks or breaks in the cake!
I used a simple back of the spoon technique to create waves on icing to make this textured cake. It really hides any imperfections perfectly and looks very fancy right?
Vegan or Gluten-Free Friendly Chocolate Cake Option
You can totally make this cake vegan or gluten free friendly too!
To make this cake vegan friendly use the following substitutions:
- Milk – use almond or oat milk
- Egg – use 2/3 cup of unsweetened applesauce in place of 2 large eggs in the recipe. Note, you might have to bake it a bit longer. Just use the toothpick test to make sure it is baked through. Alternatively, use an egg substitute like Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer.
To make this cake gluten-free substitute the flour for your gluten free flour of choice. I like Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 gluten free flour. Or the 1:1 flour I get at Bulk Barn.
Note that I have not fully these substitutions but I will update the recipe when I do! And let me know if you give this recipe a go as well! I want to know how you make out! 🙂
The Easiest and Best Chocolate Cake Ever! (with vegan friendly option!)
- 2 cups cake flour or all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup unsweetened natural or dutch-process cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp instant coffee powder or espresso powder
- 1 cup milk or buttermilk or sub almond or oat milk for a dairy-free cake
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil or canola oil or melted coconut oil
- 2 large eggs (sub 2/3 cup applesauce for egg-free option)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 batch Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe (see recipe linked below)
- Preheat oven to 350º F(176º C). Prepare three 9-inch round cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring. Insert a circle of parchment paper in the bottom of each pan.
- In a large bowl or stand mixer bowl with paddle attachment, add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and coffee powder. Whisk through to combine well.
- Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together by hand with a whisk or on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add the boiling water to the cake batter until well combined. Note: The cake batter will be very thin after adding the boiling water. This is correct and results in the most delicious and moist chocolate cake ever!
- As soon as the batter is well mixed, distribute cake batter evenly between the three prepared cake pans, making sure the pans are no more than 2/3 full. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
- Frost cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting and serve!
Let the baked cake layers cool completely. Wrap them well with plastic wrap and then with foil. Put each layer into a freezer bag and freeze up to 2 months. To serve, thaw in the refrigerator overnight with wrapping intact. The next day, the layers are ready to fill and frost. To make this cake vegan friendly use the following substitutions (note, I have not fully tested all these substitutes, will update the recipe when I do. If you try this let me know how it turns out so I can update! Thanks!): Milk – use almond or oat milk Egg – use 2/3 cup of unsweetened applesauce in place of 2 large eggs in the recipe. Note, you might have to bake it a bit longer. Just use the toothpick test to make sure it is baked through. Alternatively, use an egg substitute like Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer. You can also use gluten free flour to make this cake gluten free!
Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
- 12 ounces full fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature* use the brick style cream cheese – see recipe notes below
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3 1/2 cups icing sugar
- 2/3 cup unsweetened natural or dutch-process cocoa powder
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1-2 tbsp milk or heavy cream
- pinch salt
- Sift the icing sugar, cocoa powder together to remove any lumps and set aside.
- In a large bowl using a hand-held or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese for 1 minute on high speed until completely smooth and creamy. Beat in the butter until combined.
- Add the sifted icing sugar cocoa powder mixture, vanilla extract, 1 tbsp milk, and salt and beat on medium-high speed until combined and creamy. Add 1 more tbsp of milk to slightly thin out, if desired, to get it to an easily spreadable consistency. Taste, then add another pinch of salt if desired.
- Cover and store leftover frosting for up to 5 days in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer. After freezing, thaw in the refrigerator then beat the frosting for a few seconds so it’s creamy again before using.
- This recipe is enough to frost 18-24 cupcakes, one 9×13-inch sheet cake, or one 3-layer 9-inch round cake (like I did here).