This is the easiest chocolate cake recipe ever! Moist, fudgy, and less sweet. Make a single-layer cake to keep it simple or double and triple-layer cake for birthdays and special occasions. Frost with chocolate ganache to satisfy your chocolate cravings!
Why you'll love this cake recipe
I actually often call this my emergency chocolate cake because it's simple and easy to make. No mixer is needed!
Here are the reasons why you'll love it:
- Less sweet - The amount of sugar in this recipe is less compared to other recipes making it even more irresistible. I promise you'll keep on coming back for more!
- You can make it 3 ways – A single-layer cake, double-layer, or even triple-layer cake.
- Ganache frosting - My favorite chocolate frosting ever! The name may sound fancy but I find that it's the easiest and simplest frosting to make. You will only need two ingredients to make it–cream and semi-sweet chocolates. That is it!
- No fancy-schmancy elaborate decoration - Once the cake has cooled, pour and spread the ganache frosting on top it's done! You can also decorate with icing sugar (chevron style or swirl) but that is totally optional!
- No butter - This chocolate cake recipe does not use any butter in the cake ingredient or even in the frosting.
Here's what goes into chocolate cake. There are no fancy ingredients in this recipe. It doesn't even have butter!
A few important things to note for some of the ingredients:
- All-purpose flour - is highly recommended for this chocolate cake recipe.
- Natural Cocoa Powder (unsweetened) - use the best quality you can find. It should not have ingredients other than cocoa powder.
- White Sugar - use caster sugar or superfine granulated sugar. I don't recommend using coarse sugar as it doesn't dissolve easily.
- Eggs - you will need two large eggs at room temperature.
- Vegetable oil - canola or any neutral-tasting vegetable oil will do.
- Vanilla Extract - the better quality, the better flavor.
- Baking powder and baking soda - make sure it's still active and not past its due date. Expired leavening agents cause cakes not to properly rise.
TIP: To test the freshness, pour ¼ cup boiling water over ½ teaspoon baking powder. If it foams then it's good. Otherwise, time to replace it.
See the recipe card for quantities.
The Secret to a Moist Chocolate Cake
There are three simple things you need to remember to make sure your cake comes out moist:
- Carefully, measure the ingredients–using too much flour or not using enough liquid can cause the cake to become dry.
- Mix the batter until just combined–don't overmix!
- Don't overbake the cake–test the doneness of the cake a few minutes before the recommended baking time.
How to Make It
Have all the ingredients at room temperature including the milk and eggs. To do this, bring them out an hour before beginning the recipe. This is a key step to making a soft, moist, and fluffy cake.
For a smoother workflow, gather all the tools like bowls, measuring cups, spoons, whisk, spatula, and baking dish before starting.
If using tin pans, grease the bottom and sides and line them with parchment paper.
If using a glass baking dish, grease the bottom and sides with oil. No need for parchment paper.
2. Make the cake batter
- Sift dry ingredients to remove lumps. This will help the powder incorporate well into the wet ingredients.
- Combine the wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Stir well until sugar is dissolved.
- Use freshly boiled water, to be added towards the end of making the cake batter. This brings out the best flavor of the cocoa.
- The batter will be thin. Don't worry. This is expected. The cake will come out moist, yet still sturdy and not crumble.
Make sure the oven is preheated for 20 minutes. This will ensure that it is ready at the right temperature by the time you're done making the batter.
Place the pans in the middle rack where the heat sources are evenly distributed. If using two racks, switch the pans halfway through the baking time.
The cake is done when the toothpick inserted in the CENTER comes out clean.
What cake pans size to use
Single-layer chocolate cake (sheet cake)
Here are the recommended sizes:
- Large sheet cake - use one 13" x 9" baking pan
- Medium size sheet cake - use two 10"x 7" inches pans or a similar size
Here, I used a glass oven dish typically used for casseroles. It worked just as fine as a tin pan.
Double or Triple Layer Chocolate Cake
If you're feeling fancy and want to make this cake for a special occasion like birthdays or anniversaries, you can make it into a layered cake.
These pan sizes work well for making a chocolate layered cake:
- 2 layer cake - use two 9" round pans.
- 3 layer cake - use three 7" round pan
Can I make this into cupcakes?
Yes, definitely! This recipe will make about 20 regular-size cupcakes. Bake at 350f /180 c for 20 to 25 minutes.
Ganache–Best Frosting for Chocolate Cake
My go-to frosting for chocolate cake has always been and will always be GANACHE. It's chocolatey and velvety. Just pure decadence! Plus, it's super easy to make. You won't even need a mixer.
Here's how to make it
- Heat the heavy cream - you can do this in the microwave or in a stovetop.
- Pour over chocolate chips or chopped chocolate bars. DON'T STIR YET. Cover with a heat-proof plate and let it sit for 5 minutes to allow the chocolate to melt.
- Uncover and stir gently at first then gradually whisk it swiftly until smooth and glossy.
- Let it cool to thicken–30 minutes at room temperature for a glossy yet thick texture or 1 hour in the refrigerator until it's spreadable like Nutella.
How to Frost a Single Layer Cake
Once the cake has cooled, you can frost it right away, slice and it's ready to serve! No need to transfer to another serving dish or spend time stacking and frosting multiple layers of cake.
For the single-layer cake, you will only need one serving recipe of ganache. Spread it evenly on top using a large spoon or spatula. Let it set in the fridge for 30 minutes to one hour before slicing.
How to Frost a Layered Round Cake
Frosting a layered cake will take a little bit of practice but you'll get the hang of it. Tip: If the cake ends up having a dome shape on top, level it with a serrated bread knife before frosting.
Here are some helpful tools that will make the process a whole lot easier.
- icing spatula - to easily spread the frosting around the cake
- turntable - a convenient way to frost cakes; use a microwave plate as a substitute or a normal cake stand. You would have to rotate the plate as you frost the cake.
- a cake board or flat plate - to support the cake as you move it around
- parchment paper - to keep the edges clean.
For the double or triple-layer chocolate cake, you will need about 1 ½ cups of ganache frosting.
Simple ways to decorate
Here are simple ways to decorate a chocolate cake without using any special tools:
- Top with grated chocolate bars or chocolate chips - arrange as you like and make it simple but pretty.
- Decorate with fruits like strawberries and blueberries
- Drizzle with melted icing sugar - combine 6 tablespoon icing sugar with 2-3 teaspoon milk. Place in a small zip bag. Snip the tip off the tip. Immediately, before the ganache sets, pipe parallel lines about 1 inch apart on the entire cake, stopping just short of the edge. Lightly drag the skewer through the ganache perpendicular to the white lines also 1 inch apart, alternating directions (first left to right, then right to left, and so on) and covering the whole cake. Allow the ganache and icing to set.
Both the cake and the frosting can be made ahead. You can store it separately and frost it on the day you need it or store it frosted. See more tips below on how to store.
For the chocolate cake - let it cool completely. Wrapped tightly with a freezer-safe plastic wrap then place in a container. Freeze for up to 3 months, or refrigerate for up to 1 week.
For the ganache frosting - freeze for up to 3 months, or refrigerate for up to 1 week. Re-heat in the microwave in 30-second increments to make it spreadable/runny.
Storage and Shelf-life
For the frosted cake - store in an air-tight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week. I find the flavor of the cake, even more, better on the 2nd and 3rd day after the flavors have developed.
Watch the Recipe Video
More dessert recipes for you to try!
- Sweet and Creamy Fruit Salad (Filipino Style)
- No-Bake Banana Caramel Cake (Icebox Cake)
- The Best Cheese Cupcakes with Cheese Crumble
- Ensaymada Cupcakes
- Moist Pandan Pancake with Nutella
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Simple Moist Chocolate Cake (No Butter)
- 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder (I used Hershey's)
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs (lightly beaten)
- 1 cup milk
- 1 ⅓ cup white sugar (note 1)
- ½ cup vegetable oil (i used canola)
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup boiling water
Ganache Frosting (see note 4 & 5)
- 1 cup heavy cream or thick cream (note 2)
- 1 ⅓ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (note 3)
- Pre-heat oven at 350f/180c.
- To make a single-layer cake: Grease one 13"x9" large baking dish or use two 10"x 7" inches pan or similar size.To make a layered cake: For 2 layer cakes, use two 9" round pans. For 3 layers, use three 7" round pans. Grease the bottom and sides and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda. Add salt. Whisk until well combined.
- In another bowl, combine eggs, sugar, vanilla, milk, and oil. Stir until well combined. Add to dry ingredients, beat until just combined. Pour boiling water then stir until smooth. The batter will be thin.
- Pour batter into baking pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
- Place chocolate chips or finely chopped chocolate bars in a heat-proof bowl.
- Heat the cream in a small pot over medium heat until it begins to gently simmer. (Do not let it come to a rapid boil). Pour over the chocolate, then let it sit for 5 minutes to soften the chocolate.
- Uncover and gently stir at first then gradually whisk it swiftly until smooth and glossy. Let it cool to thicken–30 minutes at room temperature for a glossy thick texture or 1 hour in the refrigerator until it's spreadable like Nutella.
- Spread evenly onto the cake (see video for a simple demo). Let it set in the fridge for 30 mins to 1 hour before serving.
Recipe Notes and Tips:
- Sugar - use 1 ½ cup sugar if you're serving this without the frosting.
- Cream - table cream/canned cream can also be used. Consistency will be thicker than fresh cream.
- Semi-sweet chocolate chips - can be substituted with dark plain chocolate bars. Chop them into fine pieces before adding the hot cream.
- Ganache frosting for a double or triple layer cake - increase the amount of cream to 1 ½ cup and chocolate chips to 1 ½ cup.
- Heat cream in a microwave - Microwave cream on HIGH for 40 seconds. Stir then microwave again for 20 to 30 seconds until heated through.
- Milk and eggs should be at room temperature.
- Make it into cupcakes – This recipe will make about 20 regular-size cupcakes. Bake at 350f /180 c for 18 to 22 minutes.
- Make-ahead tip: After the cake has cooled, wrapped tightly with a freezer-safe plastic wrap then place it in a container. Freeze for up to 3 months, or refrigerate for up to 1 week without frosting.
- Shelf life with frosting is up to 5 days. Store in an airtight container to keep it moist.
Originally published on Jan. 2020. Updated on Oct 2021 with new photos and video. Same great recipe!Riverten Kitchen is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
*Recipe adapted from Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate cake.
Made a single layer cake with my kids and we all loved it! It came out moist and fudgy with just the right amount of sweetness.
Will try the layered cake next time for my son's birthday.
Made this for my husband's birthday! I did 2 8x8 glass dishes for a 2 layer cake and they were finished baking a few mins early. I made a white chocolate cream cheese frosting just for the middle of the cake and did the ganache on top. Didn't need as much ganache as it made, but it came out AMAZING! Thanks for sharing!
The white chocolate cream cheese frosting sounds like a great idea! Glad you enjoyed this recipe 🙂
Made this for my daughter's birthday and it was a hit! I used 1 1/2 cup sugar for the cake and regular chocolate chips for the frosting to make it sweeter for the kids.
The kids must have enjoyed it!
I have only 1 tin, but I wanna bake layer cake, what do you suggest? Bake 1 layer at a time? or do you suggest I bake a full cake and slice them into half?
Hi Irene, If it's a 9" pan - it takes 40 to 45 minutes to finish baking. If it's an 8" pan, I recommend baking 1 layer at a time.
Hope this helps.
At first, it was slightly difficult and then slowly I had got the hang of it toward the end. Overall, a very good dessert recipe and very useful especially for such events like birthdays, weddings, BBQ Party, baby shower, new job, etc.
It tasted great! I don't know what I did wrong though because it came out more like a brownie consistency verses a chocolate cake bit the kids loved it!
It's close to brownie consistency because of the bread flour which is how I want my chocolate cake. You can definitely use all-purpose flour as a substitute. The consistency should be much softer. Glad your kids enjoyed this.
Swathi Uppu says
Can we use buttermilk instead of milk?
Hi Swathi, this recipe has not been tested yet using buttermilk. I suggest sticking to regular milk for now.
How to make the pandesal well baked without having a crunchy outer layer? and do i only mix the bread flour and use the all purpose flour as an addition while kneading? maybe my dough came out dry.
Hi Archana, I've never tested cake this with fondant. Sorry.
Made this recipe into a layer cake covered it with buttercream and fondant it worked 🙂. Thanks for the recipe
Lulu del Rio says
Can you please give me your recipe for pork asado siopao?
One lazy Sat afternoon, i was craving for something comforting when I remembered this cake that you posted on insta. It is not fussy to make yet it came out superb. Couple of days later I was looking for leftover but the husband has got to it first even the day before! ?
hahahaha... he beat you to it! Thanks Janice! Better make some again soon 🙂
What a delight making this no fuss recipe with ? % success. The cake came out light, moist and shouting with goodness…