Chocolate Cake (aka The Birthday Cake).

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 1 8- or 9-inch layer cake


  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-3/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (I have used regular vegetable oil and avocado oil)
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup hot, freshly brewed coffee (I used hot water + a Starbucks Via packet!)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare 2 round cake pans (you can use 8 or 9 inch pans) by lining them with parchment paper and greasing them with butter or oil.
  2. Whisk (or sift) the dry ingredients together, making sure there aren’t any lumps of cocoa powder. Measure the buttermilk and oil into a large measuring cup, then add the eggs and vanilla and mix. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients while mixing on low speed (I use my stand mixer to make this easier – if you’re mixing by hand or with a hand mixer, just add the wet ingredients in a couple of batches and mix gently in between), scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl a couple of times as you mix. Add the coffee to the batter and mix just to combine. The batter will be runny, but that’s okay!
  3. Pour the batter evenly into the pans and bake for 35-40 minutes (for 8 inch pans) or 23-28 minutes (for 9 inch pans). A toothpick should come out clean when the cakes are done! Cool in the pans for about 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a wire rack and cool completely before frosting.


This recipe is slightly adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe for Beatty’s Chocolate Cake, which is apparently from a recipe on the back of the Hershey’s cocoa powder container! The only change I made was to slightly decrease the sugar.

I have made the cake in a 9×13 pan and also as cupcakes, but I don’t have a record of how long I baked either of those!

I love to use Whipped Chocolate Buttercream from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe to ice the cake.

I often use a buttermilk substitute (such as 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar + milk to make 1 cup, or half milk/half plain yogurt) in this recipe.