Classic Chocolate Layer Cake

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1 3/4 cups (425 mL) all-purpose flour, sifted
3/4 cup (175 mL) cocoa powder, sifted
2 tsp (10 mL) instant espresso powder
1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
3/4 tsp (4 mL) salt
1 cup (250 mL) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 2/3 cups (400 mL) granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) buttermilk
3/4 cup (175 mL) cold unsalted butter, cubed
8 oz (250 g) bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1/4 cup (60 mL) cocoa powder, sifted
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
3 cups (750 mL) icing sugar, sifted
1/3 cup (75 mL) milk
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
Nutritional Facts
Amount Per Serving
610 Calories
Saturated Fat


Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease and line two 9-inch (23 cm) round cake pans with parchment paper. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt until combined; set aside.

Using electric mixer, beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs, one at a time, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before the next addition. Beat in vanilla.

With mixer on low, alternately add the flour mixture in 3 parts and buttermilk in 2 parts, starting and ending with flour mixture; scrape down the bowl as needed between additions.

Pour batter into prepared pans; smooth top. Bake until tester comes out clean when inserted into centre, approximately 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to rack; let cool completely.

Frosting: Using electric mixer, beat butter on high speed until light and creamy; beat in melted and cooled chocolate, cocoa powder and salt until smooth. Beat in icing sugar. Stir in milk and vanilla; beat until creamy.

If frosting is too soft to spread, refrigerate for 5 to 10 minutes. Smear a little frosting on a serving plate to prevent the cake from sliding. Place the first cake in the centre of the plate and spread 1 cup (250 mL) of frosting on top. Top with second cake layer; frost the top and sides of cake with remaining frosting. Refrigerate cake for at least 2 hours before serving.


  • For a sweeter frosting, use semi-sweet chocolate instead of bittersweet.
  • If you don’t have buttermilk, add 1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice or white vinegar to a measuring cup; fill with milk to measure 1 cup (250 mL) to make 1 cup (250 mL) buttermilk.