Sturdy and moist 8 inch chocolate cake layers frosted with silky chocolate buttercream. This recipe makes three 8 inch layers and is a great base chocolate recipe for so many variations.
Why you’ll love this 8 inch cake
- It’s super moist and fluffy with a strong chocolate flavor.
- The cake is sturdy enough to easily stack and not too flimsy or crumbly.
- Can be frosted with any type of frosting
- The chocolate cake recipe is very forgiving and allows for many substitutions and dietary restrictions.
I adapted this base recipe from my 6 inch chocolate cake and if you’re in need of a vanilla version, I have my 8 inch vanilla cake as well. I use this 8 inch chocolate cake recipe in my ferrero rocher cake and chocolate ganache cake.
I also have another SUPER MOIST 8 inch chocolate that I use in my chocolate mousse cake recipe. That one is definitely a little more flimsy so it requires more gentle handling. They’re both great, I prefer them for different textures.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Flour: I use all purpose flour in most of my recipes and I HIGHLY recommend using a digital scale, as flour (and cocoa) is so often over measured.
- Cocoa Powder: make sure to use unsweetened cocoa powder. I use dutch process but natural cocoa powder also works. The color and flavor will be slightly less intense with natural cocoa powder.
- Baking Powder: I used just baking powder here. If you only have baking soda, you can just use 1 tsp of that instead.
- Sugar: I used granulated sugar and I don’t recommend cutting any out as it affects the texture and the flavor. The buttercream is not overly sweet so it balances well.
- Butter: I like to use salted butter in my cakes and unsalted butter in my buttercream but you can also use unsalted butter in both if you like.
- Dairy free butter also works well for the cake and the buttercream.
- Oil: I usually use a neutral oil like sunflower, vegetable or canola oil but olive oil also works well here as it pairs well with chocolate and is hardly noticeable.
- Eggs: make sure to use room temperature, large eggs.
- Pop them in hot water for a few minutes if they’re cold.
- Sour cream: I love the combination of sour cream and milk for cakes. The sour cream can be replaced with plain yogurt or greek yogurt. Make sure they are unsweetened.
- Milk: I use whole milk or 2% milk but any milk works fine, even dairy free milk.
Step 1: Make the cake first. Start by creaming the butter with the sugar for 1-2 minutes. Then add the oil and beat at full speed until it’s pale and fluffy.
Step 2: Add the eggs one at a time. Make sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next egg. Then add the vanilla and sour cream, mixing just until they’re combined.
Step 3: Add half of the dry ingredients, followed by the milk and the other half of the dry ingredients. Make sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl well so it’s evenly mixed.
Step 4: Distribute the batter evenly. You should get about 18oz in three 8 inch cake pans.
Step 5: Bake for about 30-35 minutes. When the cake is done baking, it will release itself from the edge of the pan and spring back when you press on the center. Flip the cakes over onto a cooling rack or a tea towel right away. Allow them to cool completely to room temperature.
Step 6: Make the chocolate buttercream by heating the sugar and water in a saucepan until it reaches 240F (115C).
Step 7: Whip the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer, at full speed, while the sugar is heating. Then stream the sugar in and whip for about 10 minutes, until the egg mixture is no longer warm.
Step 8: Add the butter, 2 Tbsp at a time and beat until it’s fully incorporated.
Step 9: Add the cocoa powder and vanilla and mix until it’s smooth.
Step 10: Use the buttercream to frost the cake generously and create swirls. *optional, top with a pinch of sea flakes because you’re as obsessed with salted chocolate as I am (I may have overdone it a bit).
Frequently Asked Questions
You can use dairy free butter, dairy free milk/cream to make any of my cakes. You can also use a dairy free butter for the buttercream.
You can make this cake in:
– Three round 8 inch baking pan – what I used
– Three square 8 inch baking pan – reduce bake time by about 5 minutes
– Two or three round 9 inch baking pan (two will be thicker and three will be thinner than the cakes in the photo) – increase bake time by 5-10 minutes
– Two or three square 9 inch baking pan (two will be thicker and three will be thinner than the cakes in the photo) – increase bake time by 5-10 minutes
– One 9×13 inch pan (will be taller than traditional) – bake at least 10-15 minutes longer, look for ques.
– Cupcakes – Should make about 36 cupcakes, bake for 16-19 minutes.
Just like all the rest of my cakes, I test if it’s done baking by pressing gently on the tallest part of the cake. The cake will spring back if it’s done baking. If it stays indented, give it a few minutes in the oven, before testing again.
You can also insert a toothpick into the center of the cake (the tallest part) and make sure it comes out clean or with a few crumbs but without any batter on it.
I used a double batch of my favorite whole egg buttercream and just added cocoa powder.
Alternatively you can also use a double batch of swiss meringue buttercream, french buttercream or american buttercream (flavor it the same or however you like).
I also used two forms of chocolate ganache in my ganache cake.
How to make the cake ahead of time
To make the cake ahead of time you can make the cakes even a month in advance. When you remove them from the oven, let them cool for about half an hour and then wrap them individually in plastic wrap. Then place them in a freezer bag, squeezing out all the excess air.
Bring back to room temperature before frosting. If you frost them while they’re frozen, the whipped ganache will set way too quickly from the cold cake and make it difficult to spread.
To make the frosting ahead of time just follow the instructions until it’s done, cover it and let it sit at room temperature (68F-72F, not too warm) for 1-2 days.
If it’s too warm or you want to make it sooner place the frosting in an airtight container and refrigerate for a few days or freeze for a few months. Bring back to room temperature before assembling the cake.
I do prefer to work with fresh buttercream but if you make it ahead of time, bring it back to room temperature and then give it a good mix to smooth it out again.
How to store finished cake
I usually just cover it with a cake dome or place it in an airtight container and store it at room temperature for 2-3 days.
Refrigerate for an additional up to a week but I recommend freezing it to keep it more fresh.
To freeze the whole cake, refrigerate it until it’s firm. Then wrap it in plastic wrap so it’s completely covered. Then wrap it in aluminum foil and freeze.
To freeze slices, place the slices in an airtight container and then place the container in a freezer bag, squeezing out all the excess air.
Bring it back to room temperature by thawing at room temperature for a few hours before serving.
Thanks so much for reading today’s post, if you have any questions just comment down below. Make sure to leave it in the comment section because I can’t answer in the rating section.
If you make this, I’d love it if you left a star rating for me. If it’s less than five stars, please leave a comment with the rating so I know why! 🙂
As always, have a blessed day and happy baking!
- 2 1/4 cup (270g) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
- 3/4 cup (60g) unsweetened cocoa powder, spooned and leveled (I use dutch-processed)
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (118mL) vegetable or canola oil
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup (225g) sour cream, room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup (237mL) milk, room temperature
- 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (120mL) water
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 cups (450g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup (80g) unsweetened cocoa powder, spooned and leveled
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 350F (177C) and grease and line three round 8 inch cake pans with baking spray and parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt until they’re evenly distributed.
- Place the butter and sugar in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer and use an electric mixer to beat them at full speed for 1-2 minutes. Add the oil and beat for another 1-2 minutes at full speed.
- Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating for at least 30 seconds between each one, until it’s incorporated.
- Add the sour cream and vanilla and mix just until it’s combined.
- Add half of the flour mixture, turn the mixer on low speed and stream in the milk. Add the other half of the flour mixture and increase the speed to medium for another 30-60 seconds, just until there are only a few streaks of flour left.
- Use a rubber spatula to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and give it one more good mix by hand.
- Distribute the batter evenly among the prepared pans, about 18-19oz in each pan.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the edge of the cake releases from the pan or springs back when you gently press on the tallest part.
- Flip onto a tea towel or a cooling rack and allow to cool to room temperature before frosting.
- Place the sugar and water in a medium saucepan and swirl the pan until the sugar is fully immersed in water. Place the saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and comes to a gentle simmer. Lower the heat to low and place the lid on the pan and allow the mixture to simmer for a couple minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, and turn the mixer up to high speed. Let it whip while the sugar is done cooking.
- Use a candy thermometer to see when the sugar reaches 240F (116C), then lower the mixer to medium speed and slowly drizzle the hot sugar syrup into the thick and foamy egg yolks, while they are whipping. Turn the mixer back up to high speed and let it whip for 5-10 minutes, until the egg mixture is very pale and fluffy and is cool to the touch or no longer warm.
- Turn the mixer back down to medium speed and add in the butter, 2 Tbsp of butter at a time, mixing until each chunk is fully combined and the buttercream looks smooth and creamy.
- Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, add in the cocoa powder, vanilla and salt and turn the mixer up to high speed for 1-2 minutes.
- Place the first layer of cake on a flat surface. Frost with 1/4 of the buttercream. Repeat with the second layer and then place the third layer of cake on top.
- Make a crumb coat by applying a thin layer around the edge and top of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes.
- Use the rest of the buttercream to frost the outside of the cake and use an offset spatula or a spoon to make the swirls.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 612Total Fat: 36gSaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 179mgSodium: 295mgCarbohydrates: 68gFiber: 1gSugar: 52gProtein: 7g
Nutrition information may not be fully accurate.