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 pan 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 it in an air-tight container and refrigerate it 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!
- Custard Cake (Vanilla Flan Cake)
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
Love desserts? You might like these too!
Simple Moist Chocolate Cake (No Butter)
- 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 cups 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 cups and chocolate chips to 1 ½ cups.
- 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/180C for 18 to 22 minutes.
- Make-ahead tip: After the cake has cooled, wrap it 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.