Moist Chocolate Cake – Every Baker’s Essential Recipe

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This is a must have, must bake chocolate cake recipe! It’s plenty chocolatey and super moist! Topped with dark chocolate ganache, it’s a decadent dessert fit for any occasion!
Rich and moist chocolate cake topped with dark chocolate ganache, cut into squares

Many of you had asked for a good chocolate cake, and here it is! This is every baker’s must-have essential chocolate cake recipe.

Now I’m talking about a rich and moist everyday chocolate cake. The kind that’s a real chocolatey cake, not dense like a brownie or overly fudgy like a chocolate mud cake.

If you’re looking for something light, cotton-soft and fluffy, this is not the cake. But you’ll love my chocolate chiffon cake!

This is my super easy, one-bowl chocolate cake, and it’s a keeper! It’s the perfect chocolate cake to make layer cakes with. It’s got a firm yet tender cake crumb, is extra moist and slices beautifully.

This is the chocolate cake that you can fill with your favourite creams, fillings, toppings and frostings.

Most of all, it’s a chocolate cake that you can work all sorts of wonderful flavours into. Add your favourite liquers for a boozy cake, throw in chocolate, caramel or butterscotch chips.

Mix in fruit and nuts for loads of texture and added flavours. Seriously, the sky’s the limit, and you’ll find that this cake begs your imagination and creativity!

I’ve included a luxurious frosting of dark chocolate ganache as well, ‘cos we can never have too much chocolate, can we? Use bittersweet, semi-sweet or milk chocolate, whichever is your favourite.

I highly recommend making the ganache (it takes less than 10 minutes), because it really intensifies the chocolate flavour and takes this cake over the top!

Chocolate cake frosted with chocolate ganache, as viewed from on top

Why you should make this chocolate cake

Quick and easy one-bowl recipe

  • This is a mix and stir recipe. It’s as easy as mixing all the dry ingredients together, and then stirring in the wet ingredients.
  • All in one bowl! You’ll literally only need a wooden spoon (or whisk) and a mixing bowl. Talk about the shortest clean-up job ever!

Super moist chocolate cake

  • Using oil instead of butter means you’re getting a cake that stays moist and doesn’t dry out as quickly.
  • But that’s not all! With a whole cup of buttermilk, as well as brown sugar, it all makes for an extra moist cake.

Deep and rich chocolate flavour

  • Did you know that adding just a dash of instant coffee makes chocolate cake taste even more chocolatey? In fact, you won’t even taste the coffee!
  • And there’s a reason why hot boiling water is added to the mixture. Hot liquids blooms the cocoa so that it releases more flavour particles!

Decadent chocolate ganache

  • This cake becomes a show-stopping decadent dessert with a chocolate ganache you can make in 10 minutes.

And the incredible thing is, it’s so easy to make at home. I’m going to take you through it step by step. Let’s dig in!

Ingredients for moist chocolate cake

For the cake

  • Plain or all-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Cocoa powder
  • Instant coffee or espresso granules
  • Brown sugar
  • White sugar
  • Oil
  • Eggs
  • Buttermilk (can be replaced with sour cream, yogurt or milk)
  • Boiling hot water
Chocolate cake ingredients

For the ganache

  • Baking chocolate or chocolate buttons (bitter-sweet or semi-sweet)
  • Whipping cream

How to make chocolate cake: Step-by-step

Make the chocolate cake

  • Steps 1 & 2: In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients – plain flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, instant coffee granules, salt, brown sugar and white sugar. Stir with a whisk or wooden spoon until well mixed.
  • Steps 3 & 4: Add the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla extract (do not add the hot water yet). Stir until well combined and you get a smooth batter. The batter will be quite thick at this stage.
  • Steps 5 & 6: Slowly pour in the hot boiling water – it helps if you have a glass cup or small saucepan with a pouring spout. Stir the mixture as you tip in the water. The batter will be thin and runny, and this is normal for this cake batter.
  • Steps 7 & 8: Pour the batter into the pan. Bake in a preheated oven set at 170°C (350°F) for 45 minutes, or until the cake is just done. Be careful not to over-bake, otherwise the cake may end up a bit dry! When a metal or bamboo skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out mostly clean with just a little bit of sticky (but not wet) crumb, the cake is done.

Once out of the oven, let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edges to release it from the sides of the pan.

Set the cake on a metal rack to cool completely. While the cake is cooling, make the ganache as it also needs to cool and firm up.

Make the ganache

  • Step 1: Finely chop or thinly slice chocolate and place into a heatproof bowl.
  • Step 2: In a small saucepan set over a low heat, heat the cream until it barely starts to simmer. Do not let it boil. Once you see little bubbles appearing at the edges of the cream, it’s hot enough. Pour the cream over the chocolate, making sure to submerge all of it. Let it sit for 3 minutes.
  • Step 3: Slowly stir the mixture with a whisk, until the ganache is smooth and even. Set it aside to cool. It will thicken as it cools.
  • Step 4: Once the ganache reaches a firm and spreadable consistency, like smooth peanut butter, use an offset spatula to spread the ganache over the cooled chocolate cake. Make beautiful swirls, as desired.
Close-up view of chocolate cake's moist and tender crumb

Additional tips

  • Cocoa powder. Please note that this recipe calls for natural cocoa powder, not Dutch-processed cocoa powder. Natural cocoa powder is acidic while ‘Dutched’ cocoa has had its acidity stripped and has an alkaline pH. Try to stick with natural cocoa. It will give the best results as both baking powder and baking soda are present in the recipe to give the right balance and leavening.
  • Oil versus butter. Using oil in place of butter is what gives this cake its ultra moist crumb. Also, it will not dry out as quickly, so this chocolate cake stays moist for longer.
  • Buttermilk. Buttermilk can be replaced with sour cream, yoghurt or milk. My favourite options are buttermilk and sour cream as the tangy or sour notes work really well with the sweetness of sugars.

Baking pans

I baked this in a square 8 x 8 x 1½-inch (20 x 20 x 4 cm) cake pan as I wanted a nice height. You can use any regular round, square or rectangular cake pan that holds approximately 6 cups.

For baking layer cakes, you can divide the batter and fill two 8-inch (20-cm) round or square pans. The baking time will be shorter if you divide the batter into two pans.

Hope you’ll love this as much as I do! Make somebody’s day by gifting this wonderful chocolate cake! Enjoy – ♥ Celia

Here are more delicious bakes you might enjoy:

Tried this recipe? Leave a review or share your bakes on Instagram by tagging @foodelicacy or #foodelicacy.

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Moist Chocolate Cake

Moist Chocolate Cake

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

This is a must have, must bake chocolate cake recipe! It's plenty chocolatey and super moist! Topped with dark chocolate ganache, it's a decadent dessert fit for any occasion!

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 220 g plain or all-purpose flour
  • 60 g cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp instant coffee granules
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 1½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 250 g caster sugar
  • 110 g brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs (55 - 60 g each)
  • 240 g buttermilk
  • 110 g oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 240 g boiling hot water

For the ganache:

  • 200 g dark chocolate, bitter-sweet or semi-sweet chocolate buttons
  • 200 g whipping cream

Instructions

Make the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 170°C (350°F). Grease the base and sides of a square 8 x 8 x 1½-inch (20 x 20 x 4 cm) cake pan. Line the base with baking paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine plain flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, instant coffee granules, salt, brown sugar and white sugar. Stir with a whisk or wooden spoon until well mixed.
  3. Add buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla extract. Stir until you get a smooth, even batter. The batter will be quite thick.
  4. Slowly pour in the hot boiling water. Stir the mixture as you tip in the water. The batter will be runny, and this is normal for this cake batter.
  5. Pour the batter into the greased pan. Bake on a rack set just below the centre of the oven, for 45 minutes, or until the cake is just done. Do not over-bake. When a metal or bamboo skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out mostly clean with just a little bit of sticky (but not wet) batter, the cake is done.
  6. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edges to release it from the pan.
  7. Set the cake on a metal rack to cool completely.

Make the ganache:

  1. Finely chop or thinly slice chocolate and place into a heatproof bowl.
  2. In a small saucepan set, heat the cream over mow heat until it barely starts to simmer. Do not let it boil. Once little bubbles appear at the edges of the cream, it's hot enough.
  3. Pour the cream over the chocolate, making sure to cover all of the chocolate. Let it sit for 3 minutes.
  4. Slowly stir the mixture with a whisk, until the ganache becomes smooth and even. Set it aside to cool. It will thicken as it cools.
  5. Once the ganache reaches a firm and spreadable consistency, like smooth peanut butter, use an offset spatula to spread the ganache over the cooled chocolate cake. Make beautiful swirls, as desired.

Notes

  • It is absolutely vital when preparing the ganache, that not a single drop of water is allowed to come into contact with the chocolate mixture. Otherwise, the chocolate will seize, thicken or harden, rendering it useless in its purpose as a frosting.
  • For a thicker consistency or fudgy ganache, change the proportions of cream to chocolate in the recipe.  Reduce the amount of cream for a thicker ganache, while retaining the proportion of chocolate.
  • If your ganache has started to set before you've completely frosted your cake, return the saucepan with the ganache to the heat. Warm up over low heat, until it softens to spreading consistency. Allow to cool slightly again before frosting.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 457Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 52mgSodium: 475mgCarbohydrates: 59gFiber: 3gSugar: 40gProtein: 6g

All nutritional values are approximate only.

Did you make this recipe?

I’d love to see! Remember to share your pics on Instagram and tag @foodelicacy or #foodelicacy.

20 Comments

  1. Hi Aining, thank you! Yes, you can, absolutely!

  2. This recipe looks and sounds fantastic. Could I substitute semi-sweet chocolate chips for the baker’s chocolate or buttons when making the ganache?

  3. Hi Ruby, thank you so much for the feedback! I’m hoping to try that banana-chocolate combination ‘cos it sounds yummy! I’m not too sure if the ratio of liquids could still have been a little off with the half-and-half bananas-yoghurt, or perhaps there wasn’t enough leavening with the added bananas. Without testing it myself, I’m hesitant to say. Hopefully, I’ll get to testing it soon to give you certainty of success in your next bake!

  4. Hi Ann, 8 x8 x 3″ depth pan will work out fine. The batter will rise but not too much. If you have a fan-assist oven, it’s generally recommended to reduce the temperature by 20°C from the baking temperature meant for a conventional oven. i.e. 150°C (302°F) instead of 170°C (350°F).

  5. Sorry… I meant to say that my cake tin is a 3″ in depth. Thanks Celia!

  6. Hi Celia, my cake tin is 3″. What adjustments must I make to the temperature setting? Also, I have a fan oven. Thank you!

  7. Hi Celia
    I made this recipe twice, with and without bananas, using yogurt instead of buttermilk.
    I followed your recipe, with yogurt, no bananas and it turned out fine.
    The one I made with coarsely mashed bananas turned out dense, and the parts with banana bits were wet/fudgy. I used half the amount of yogurt and banana. Wonder where I went wrong.
    Both version tasted good:) thank you for sharing this recipe.

  8. Hi Liv, you can substitute with plain yoghurt or sour cream.

  9. Hi Celia,
    Is there a substitute for buttermilk? I can’t find this ingredient where I stay. Thanks!

  10. Hi Lena, if you’re in Singapore, you can get it at supermarkets like NTUC Fairprice, Fairprice Extra, Cold Storage.

  11. Hi Celia, can u advise where can we get buttermilk?

  12. Hi, I only have 7 inch sq bake pan. Will it be workable too?

  13. Hi Bel, I use Hershey’s cocoa powder. For the chocolate ganache, you can get chocolate buttons or compound chocolate block from Phoon Huat stores, or any brand of baking chocolate. I personally always use dairy whipping cream when it comes to making chocolate ganache.

  14. Hi, I’m thinking to bake this chocolate cake for my mum. Can you advise which brand of natural cocoa powder and chocolate for the cake and ganache? For the whipping cream, can I use the Redman non dairy whipping cream which was used in your strawberry short cake recipe?

  15. Hi Frieska, thank you for writing in! You can replace the one cup (240 ml) of hot water in the recipe with one cup of hot, freshly brewed espresso. If you think that might be too much, use half-and-half hot brewed espresso (120 ml) and hot water (120 ml) to make up one cup. Add this after mixing in the eggs, oil, buttermilk, vanilla extract, when you add the hot water or in place of hot water. I highly recommend making the chocolate ganache in the recipe, or this classic chocolate buttercream frosting for a birthday cake. Hope your son loves it!

  16. Hi Celia, this cake looks so delicious, i plan to bake this for my son’s birthday. He really likes chocolate cake.
    If i want to use esspreso coffee, how many ml the coffee? And when / which step do i put the coffee? Thanks in advance.

  17. Hi Ruby! My apologies, can’t believe I missed that. I’ve now included the baking temp in the recipe card. Haven’t tried turning this into a chocolate banana cake, but here’s how I would do it. If you’re adding mashed bananas, replace half the amount of buttermilk with 120 gm (½ cup) mashed bananas. That means, you should have 120 gm of buttermilk, as well as 120 gm of mashed bananas. OR for a strong banana flavour, replace ALL of the buttermilk with equal weight of mashed bananas. Mix in with the eggs, oil, buttermilk (if using) and vanilla extract, before pouring in the hot water. Hope this works out! I’d love to hear!

  18. Hi Celia
    May I know what is the oven temperature for baking this cake?
    And I would like to add in bananas, please advise at which step, before or after adding the hot water.
    Regards

  19. Hi Doris, thank you! Absolutely, you can just omit the coffee altogether. I’ve baked this chocolate cake for a kid’s birthday, without coffee, and it turned out just as yummy! This is a very versatile recipe, and I’m sure you’ll have fun with what you can do to turn it into a festive cake!

  20. Hi Celia. Christmas is around the corner and your decadent chocolate cake recipe is perfect for the festivity. If I omit the 2 tsp instant coffee granules (because of the little nieces and nephew), what should I substitute with? Many thanks and best regards

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