Make Ahead

Chocolate Bundt Cake

June 19, 2021
4 Stars
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Prep time 25 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Serves Bundt Cake
Author Notes

Knowing my love for chocolate, my friend Hilary made me a version of this cake for my birthday one year. The recipe was inspired by something similar she had tasted in a restaurant during college. I've since made adaptations to her recipe and often take this to friends for special occasions. In the past I've added frosting or glazes, but have come to like it best with just powdered sugar on top. —Kelsey Banfield

Test Kitchen Notes

If Betty Crocker had a sophisticated, seductive cousin, this would be her signature cake: it's pure deep, dark, fudgy goodness. Because KelseyTheNaptimeChef's cake uses oil instead of butter, plus a fair amount of coffee, it emerges from the oven incredibly tender and moist. In fact, we noted that it has a texture similar to that of a British steamed pudding. The best part is that you can throw this together in 15 minutes, and it will be out of the oven in another 45 -- making your total time to greatness about an hour. —The Editors

Watch This Recipe
Chocolate Bundt Cake
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup dutch process cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup sour milk
  • 1 cup freshly brewed strong black coffee
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
In This Recipe
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter a bundt pan and dust the inside with cocoa powder, set aside.
  2. Sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a mixer on low add the milk, coffee, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla one at a time. mix until everything is incorporated. Then, with the mixer still on low speed, slowly add in the dry ingredients. Once all of the flour mixture is added, mix the batter for a full four minutes on medium speed.
  4. Then, pour the batter into the bundt pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow to cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Then, dust with powdered sugar and serve.
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See what other Food52ers are saying.

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  • Daya Devi
    Daya Devi
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Home cook, food blogger, cookbook author, wine lover, avid traveler, and mother of two young children. Check out my books: The Naptime Chef: Fitting Great Food into Family Life (2012), and The Family Calendar Cookbook: From Birthdays to Bake Sales, Good Food to Carry You Through the Year (2015), Running Press.

477 Reviews

shamaa April 5, 2022
Perfect Chocolate Cake
HungryHungryLaura March 5, 2022
Been making this exact recipe for over decade and it never misses. It’s perfect. I don’t dust with powdered sugar, opt for hand whipped heavy cream instead.
Muhlyssa December 9, 2021
Big hit. Easy! Stays moist for days. Needs no frosting. Is just perfect as is. Used buttermilk and espresso from an instant powder.
NXL August 15, 2021
Very good, moist chocolate cake. The coffee makes a huge flavor boost. Powdered sugar sprinkled on top soon disappears.
cocoloco June 19, 2021
Delicious. Put slightly less sugar (1 1/2 cup) + used a combo of cocoas, including black cocoa for a deeply rich colour. Tasted divine with some cream on the side!
cocoloco June 19, 2021
Forgot to mention, I diluted sour cream with some milk to replace the sour milk (buttermilk is less available in the UK), and it turned out fine. Not too sweet, not dense either.
Irene January 2, 2021
Great cake. This is EXACTLY the same recipe as the one Ina Garten made famous called Beatty’s chocolate cake. Not Hershey’s cake recipe. I’ve made it in two 9” round pans and as cupcakes. They are ok as cupcakes only bc they stick to the papers so much.
As a bundt or layered cake it is much better the next day. I recommend baking one day in advance. The chocolate flavor really develops over time. Also to intensify the chocolate flavor you can bloom your cocoa in the hot coffee (I use water bc I don’t want to caffeinated my kids). You just whisk cocoa and some of the sugar in the hot liquid and add it w the eggs.
Nancy K. March 28, 2021
I use decaf coffee. It’s virtually—if not exactly—the same as a Hershey’s recipe my family has used for decades.
M W. December 24, 2020
Check +++. I made this for my husband’s birthday and it was a hit - moist, perfect crumb and intense chocolate flavor. A few recommendations: be sure to mix for the entire four minutes, an extra two tablespoons of flour helped with the consistency, I like to substitute 1/4c Greek yogurt in the sour milk mixture (1/4 yogurt, 3/4 milk, 1TBS Apple Cider Vinegar) + don’t doubt the old school “clean cake tester” trick: it’s a moist cake but if you don’t bake until the tester comes out clean it’s more likely to collapse.
Karen C. December 14, 2020
This is a very old recipe off the back of a Hershey’s cocoa can. The name of the recipe is Black Magic Cake. The most important step is to time the mixing and mix the full four minutes. The cake will fall if it is not mixed enough. This has been my families birthday cake for at least forty years...maybe longer. My memory doesn’t reach back to the first time I made it. I only put in a 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda and use 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder. I don’t care for the taste of too much leavening in any baking product.
Kestrel November 28, 2020
I don’t want to be “that guy” but has anyone tried this with Splenda? I can’t have more than 15g-20g of sugar at a time. If I could sub the sugar, this would be an awesome alternative to the usual cake for me!
I won’t rate the recipe if I make it differently from how it’s written :)
harrisson November 28, 2020
You could try but I am certain it will not work well. The chemistry of baking is hard to fool with and come out right. Tenderness, crumb, moisture and flavor are all working together with the sugar and balance with the ph of the coffee, sour milk, flour, baking soda, etc.
MJ-YOW November 2, 2020
Amazing recipe and my favourite chocolate cake ... ever! I added a 1/4 tsp cayenne 1/2 tsp nutmeg and 1 tsp cinnamon for a little heat and spice. Thank you Kelsey
Adrienne S. March 19, 2020
This is a very forgiving recipe. I did (almost) everything wrong and it still worked! What did I do wrong, you ask? Well, here goes. I stirred in 2 tsp apple cider vinegar to the milk without subtracting milk and didn't wait for the milk to sour. I added a 2-3 tablespoons of flour to make up for the extra liquid. I also didn't wait for the coffee to cool to a sip-able temperature. The coffee was a couple of spoons of ground coffee boiled until it looked dark enough then strained. Timing? Who knows. I also didn't keep track of how long I beat the batter. If it was 4 minutes, it was dumb luck. And, finally, instead of butter and cocoa powder, I used a generous spray of PAM in a non-stick bundt pan. It did not overflow. I baked it precisely 45 minutes and let it cool for 10 more. It deflated to slightly over the edge of the pan. Despite the riffs, it popped right out of the pan and it is gorgeous. I'm a home baker. This is a great recipe.
Daya D. November 17, 2019
Ugh, mine was a DISASTER. Similar to the other reviewer I had a cakesplosion in my oven (but I was not prepared with the cookie sheet underneath to catch drippings - cue fire alarm!) I will try it again though and probably reduce the baking soda.
Fran September 22, 2019
Has anyone made this using a nondairy substitute for the sour milk?

Lauren B. September 22, 2019
I can’t remember! Sorry! I may have since there are times I don’t want to have dairy in a cake. At times I have used Trader Joe’s Almond Milk and then I add some lemon juice and it curdles. So I could have, just not sure. So sorry I cannot be more helpful.
Fran November 17, 2019
I made this using a nondairy sour cream. The result was delicious. It tasted very close to the original recipe. I've always had only good results with this cake.
Hillie September 16, 2019
It all worked beautifully, but I was concerned about the amount of liquid contents as compared with the flour was excessive. Sure enough it rose fantastically (no high elevation here) and it took a few more minutes in oven to be sure it was all done. However, it sank badly in cookling because it just was way too much moisture in body content. ...2 cups of liquid to 1 -3/4 cups of flour and 3/4 c. cocoa was too liquid for when I was beating it.
harrisson September 16, 2019
the recipe seems too runny but if it is baked long enough, according to the RX, it works beautifully. I learned this Rx over 25 years ago as a pro-pastry chef and it has always worked. I used it over and over again both as a pro and in home, it is always good...layer cake, sheet cake or cupcakes...just the baking time changes and there are always compliments. one caution is to grease a bundt pan well and dust with cocoa, spray release the cupcake papers and parchment the bottom of the layer pans because it tends to stick due to lots of sugar.
kumalavula March 31, 2019
this recipe was like a roller coaster for me. i followed it, even sifted ingredients and dusted greased nordic ware pan with cocoa. i also only filled the pan 2/3 full, a little shy of the total batter i had once i'd mixed wet and dry ingredients together. 20 min into the baking time, i see it is overflowing the top of the bundt pan and spilling out onto the cookie sheet i had luckily placed it on. i figured the whole thing was a write-off. i kept baking it, and tried to scrape off the overflow while it was in the oven. i ended up having to bake 10-12 min beyond the 45 min suggested total time. at that point, i didn't know what its final fate would be but i took it out of the oven and left it to cool. i almost never have baking disasters; i mean, once in 5-6 years something goes wrong, but i can literally count on one hand the number of times, i have had recipes flop. an hour and a half after i took the pan out, the cake had sunk back down into the bundt pan and i could see the hollow part in the middle, which was completely obscured while baking. i steeled myself and left it to cool longer. when i finally turned the cake out, i was shocked that it looked ok and hadn't stuck at all to the inside of the very ornate nordic ware bundt pan. a light coating of powdered sugar and i think it's good to go but my god! i swear that overflow episode had my heart in my mouth. i have no idea what happened nor do i know i want to figure it out: the fluctuation between the cake at its tallest and then when it shrunk had me worried but on the plate, it looks pretty amazing! i will try this again, and be forewarned the next time.
Maureen P. April 10, 2019
I had the same experience tonight. By chance do you live at high altitude? I am at 6000 ft and I think that is our problem. The cake rises too quickly and then will nothing to support it, it sinks. I think I have to decrease the baking powder and increase the flour. Adjust the oven temperature higher for a shorter time. Anyone have any other insights?
loweexclamationpoint January 22, 2021
Did you use a 6 cup bundt pan? I used a 12 cup Nordic ware pan, was about 1/3 full before baking.
Lauren B. February 13, 2019
I’ve made this twice so far and it has been well received each time so thanks! Question: Why do I have to sift the dry ingredients. (And get the sifter dirty) when I’m then going to put it in the mixer and mix it for 4 minutes? Why bother?

Also, I had to buy a silicone bundt mold cause my neighbor was selling PamperedChef stuff. Very annoying to find that the paper in the box says to only bake at 325°F even though online it says you can use the mold to 450°F! What’s the point!? So I am baking for 70 minutes or so at 325° and getting a good result.
Ann-Marie D. February 13, 2019
The biggest reason is so you don't have clumps of flour, and worse, clumps of cocoa powder. This is the biggest problem, which can easily happen. Aerating your flour also allows your dry ingredients to mix together more evening. [And it is maddening that food52 still is not including grams in their recipes, you will have a different amount of aerated flour than forcing your measuring cup into a bag of flour.] The other reason is to make sure you don't have any bugs, foreign items in it, which is always possible (more possible if you live outside the US). Any time I do any shortcuts (I went to pastry school and should know better), I pay for it with inferior results.
Lauren B. February 15, 2019
I am with you 100% concerning weight vs volume measurements, although I’d like ounces too. I usually whisk dry ingredients and that destroys any lumps while being much easier to wash. I’m gonna go back to doing that. I’ve been going through ingredients so rapidly there is no time for bugs to make an appearance! (YET!). Pastry school sounds like a valuable experience.
Lauren B. February 15, 2019
Oh yeah, I made it again for this evening. I baked it at 325°F for just over 70 minutes in the silicone mold and dripped chocolate ganache on top and a few sprinkles. Everybody ate it until they were sick. So it was good. 🤪
Melanie December 16, 2018
Just made mini bundlets with this recipe, and wow! The crumb is tender and tasty. I agree with other bakers who caution against over baking. I baked a pan of 12 for 13 minutes and they were perfect. Used Valrhona cocoa powder because it was what I had in the pantry.
Nicole S. November 18, 2018
My first time making bundt cake was over this weekend for a dinner party. This recipe was INCREDIBLE! The cake is fudgy, decadent, and super moist but somehow light. I’ll make this cake for years to come, fabulous recipe.
Lemoni November 8, 2018
Has anyone made this as a layer cake with frosting? Is it enough batter for 2 9" rounds?
harrisson November 9, 2018
maybe several hundreds....and cup cakes too. It was a staple in several restaurants where I worked as a pastry chef. And, it freezes well. the Rx has been around for decades from the back of the Hershey's cocoa box sand is called "black magic" cake.
Lemoni November 9, 2018
To clarify, do you mean that you've made this recipe into two 9" round cakes several hundreds of times?
harrisson November 9, 2018
Angela Z. October 11, 2018
I've made this cake multiple times and it's always turned out great! I plan on making this cake this weekend but I don't have a hand mixer with me at this time. How long should I hand whisk the cake batter?