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Author Notes: This is a fantastic chocolate layer cake. It has a deep, rich chocolate flavor but isn't too dense or soft or squishy. It's also not so decadent that you can't pair it with a buttercream frosting. I love it plain, frosted, or served with a scoop of ice cream. It's adapted from an old Swans Down recipe, but I've amped up the chocolate a bit using dark cocoa powder. —Posie Harwood
Makes three 8-inch layers (or two 9-inch layers)
- 2/3 cup shortening, at room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons black cocoa powder or Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder (optional, for more chocolate flavor)
- 1 1/3 cups whole milk, divided
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 3 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, melted and cooled
- Preheat your oven to 350° F. Butter and flour (or line with parchment paper) your round cake pans.
- In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the shortening until soft.
- In a separate medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, and espresso powder (if using).
- To the shortening, add the flour mixture, 1 cup of milk, and the vanilla. Mix until wet, then beat for 2 minutes on medium speed.
- Add the eggs, remaining 1/3 cup of milk, and melted chocolate and beat for another minute, until well-combined.
- Divide the batter evenly between all three (or two) pans.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until the cake just begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and the surface springs back when lightly pressed.
- Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, and then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Either serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream, or freeze the layers and then frost. (You don't have to freeze them, but it makes frosting and slicing easier.)
- This recipe is a Community Pick!