Baking: Double-Chocolate Layer Cake

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A couple of days ago I baked my favorite chocolate cake, from a recipe by Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa.

This double-layer chocolate cake is a hit with my family; the kids literally squeal with delight when they realize what I’m making. The buttermilk keeps the cake crazy moist, and the coffee in both the cake and the frosting give it a little somethin’ somethin’. The higher quality the chocolate, the richer the taste. If you are a milk chocolate purist, this may not be for you.

Layer cakes are a bit of a hassle, no doubt. When I am done the kitchen sink is full. I end up with two mixer bowls (I lurve my KitchenAid) and paddles, along with another mixing bowl, several measuring cups, spoons, spatulas, etc. A mess. But it’s so worth it! My favorite shortcut is buying the pre-cut parchment paper for the baking pans; Sur la Table carries them.

Here is the recipe. My adjustments in italics.

Double-Chocolate Layer Cake

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee (I use two espresso shots and add water to bring it up to 1 cup.)

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules (I make an espresso shot and take 2 teaspoons from it.)


Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans and line them with parchment; butter the paper. Dust the pans with flour, tapping out any excess.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour with the sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt at low speed. In a bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the oil, eggs and vanilla. Slowly beat the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients until just incorporated, then slowly beat in the hot coffee until fully incorporated. (Scrape down the bowl at least twice to make sure your batter is evenly mixed.)

Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then invert the cakes onto a rack to cool (takes about an hour). Peel off the parchment.


(Do this step as soon as the cakes are out of the oven, because it takes awhile for the chocolate to cool. I melt it in the microwave as instructed, but then transfer it into a different bowl after, to facilitate cooling. Pouring warm chocolate into your butter/sugar mixture will slightly melt the butter and your frosting will be flat and kind of weird.) In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the chocolate at high power in 30-second intervals, stirring, until most of the chocolate is melted. Stir until completely melted, then set aside to cool.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat for 1 minute, scraping down the side of the bowl. At low speed, slowly beat in the confectioners’ sugar, about 1 minute. In a small bowl, dissolve the instant coffee in 2 teaspoons of hot water. Slowly beat the coffee and the cooled chocolate into the butter mixture until just combined.

Set a cake layer on a plate with the flat side facing up. Evenly spread one-third of the frosting over the cake to the edge. Top with the second cake layer, rounded side up. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and side of the cake. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before slicing.


The frosted cake can be refrigerated for 2 days. Let stand for 1 hour before serving.


Recipe from Food & Wine.


4 thoughts on “Baking: Double-Chocolate Layer Cake

    • You could, but I have heard doing that may cause your cake to dry out faster. The oil molecules hold onto moisture better than melted butter, because oil is kept at room temperature whereas melted butter will cool to room temp and lose some moisture.

      If, however, you think your cake will be eaten in one sitting, then maybe that won’t be a problem! Experiment and see, I always say.

  1. The cake is in the oven! Well, a version of it. I made a sheet cake rather than layer, as I couldn’t find my layer pans. Accidentally put in the hot coffee with the buttermilk mixture. We’ll see how it turns out!

  2. My mouth is watering. Can’t wait to make this for my daughter’s school picnic next week. Just need to find some 8″ round cake pans in this godforsaken country…

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