Make Ahead

Chocolate Dump-It Cake

May 11, 2021
77 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 45 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 10
Author Notes

My mother has many specialties, but her Chocolate Dump-It Cake is most beloved in my family. My mother used to do all of her baking late at night, after we were in bed. Around 1 in the morning, the aroma of this cake would begin wafting up to our bedrooms. Then we’d watch her frost it while we ate breakfast. My mother kept this cake in the fridge, and it is sublime even when cold. I wrote about this cake in my second book, Cooking for Mr. Latte, but wanted to celebrate it here on food52, as well.

Helpful tools for this recipe:
- OXO Measuring Cups and Spoons
- Nordic Ware Baking Sheets
- Copper Cooling Racks

Amanda Hesser

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Chocolate Dump-It Cake
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/4 pound unsalted butter (1 stick), plus more for greasing the pan
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups Nestle’s semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream, at room temperature
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F, and place a baking sheet on the lowest rack, to catch any drips when the cake bakes. Put the sugar, unsweetened chocolate, butter and 1 cup of water in a saucepan. Place over medium heat and stir occasionally until all of the ingredients are melted and blended. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, stir together the milk and vinegar. Grease and flour a 9-inch tube pan. (If you prefer, you can grease it, line it with parchment and then grease and flour it. This is not necessary, but parchment does make getting the cake out easier.)
  3. When the chocolate in the pan has cooled a bit, whisk in the milk mixture and eggs. In several additions and without overmixing, whisk in the dry ingredients. When the mixture is smooth, add the vanilla and whisk once or twice, to blend. Pour the batter into the tube pan and bake on the middle rack until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let the cake cool completely, then remove from the pan and cool on a rack. (This can be tricky – if someone is around, enlist them to help. Place a ring of wax paper on top of the cake so you have something to grab onto when turning it out.)
  4. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler, then let cool to room temperature. It is very important that the chocolate and sour cream be the same temperature, otherwise the icing will be lumpy or grainy. (Test it by stirring a little of the sour cream and chocolate together in a bowl; if it mixes smoothly, it’s ready.) Stir in the sour cream, 1/4 cup at a time, until the mixture is smooth. Taste some! It’s good.
  5. Cut the cake into two layers. Lay the top layer, top-side-down onto a cake plate (or whatever serving platter you like). Spread with icing. Top with the bottom layer, setting the bottom-side-up. This will give you a straighter edge (see photo of finished cake). Ice the top, sides, and center. (If you like a lot of icing, use 2 cups chocolate chips and 2 cups sour cream). My mother uses any leftover icing to make flowers on top. She dabs small rosettes, or buttons, on top, then uses toasted almond slices as the petals, pushing them in around the base of the rosette.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • YCandy
  • Jodi P.
    Jodi P.
  • Judi Lowell-Riley
    Judi Lowell-Riley
  • Amanda Hesser
    Amanda Hesser
  • Stephanie Gardner Nelson
    Stephanie Gardner Nelson
Amanda Hesser

Recipe by: Amanda Hesser

Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.

414 Reviews

Lisa K. June 26, 2023
Great moist cake. I didn’t have a tube pan so I baked it in 2 9” cake pans for 25 minutes.
Shala June 11, 2023
I made this cake with my 6 yo today and it is moist and delicious. The sour cream's tang cuts the sweetness and gives it a lovely balance. My husband declared this a "triumph" despite us having to bake it in a bundt and it sinking a touch. We live in altitude so I am going to work on (and then post) a version that accounts for those of us who are living a mile high. Even without the altitude modifications, though, this is a winner and a cloud-pleaser.
Loropallo February 24, 2023
This is an amazing recipe. Every time I make it my family raves. It’s easy to make, super moist and the icing is easy as well! Definitely worth trying! A new classic to pass down!
Sarah H. February 8, 2023
Amanda, We sifted the dry ingredients, but when we added it there were clumps -- like little pockets of flour. Maybe I should have immersion blended when this happened? But because I needed it to come out well on my first try (and it did!!) I went through the PITA of straining the cake batter in a mesh strainer. Thoughts?

We did LOVE!
Amanda H. February 21, 2023
Sorry -- that sounds like a pain in the neck! When you add the flour and begin folding the dry ingredients into the wet, there will be (and should be) lots of little flour lumps but if you continue folding, they'll go away, promise!
Sarah H. February 21, 2023
You are so nice to write. GREAT! Excited to make this cake many more times :)
Markmoriarity February 4, 2023
This my go to chocolate cake now.
Since your Instagram post back in 2020, I’ve made this at least 6 times.

The frosting is tangy and delicious, the cake is perfect, never fail to please.
Lovisa W. February 4, 2023
I am making this cake to take to a friend's house for dinner tonight. I made the cake yesterday using buttermilk (it needed to be used) instead of milk and vinegar. I also thought I had unsweetened chocolate, but didn't. I used Guittard unsweetened cocoa instead with grapeseed oil (3 to 1 tablespoon ratio per each oz of chocolate). I cooked the cake in two 9" pans on 350 for 30 minutes. I let the cakes cool completely before wrapping them. The cakes were very moist and smelled amazing! Everything had been going well until I started the icing today. I used half creme fraiche and half sour cream with Ghirardelli semi-sweet chips. The chips melted into a big lump of chocolate and looked dry. I was happy to watch your video to clue me in on what texture I should be looking for. I re-melted the chocolate with about 5 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Finally, the icing had a glossy silky texture like yours. I forgot to cut the tops of my cake to make them completely level. It's been a long time since I've made a layer cake. My cake came out a bit crooked, but overall I am pleased with the cake. If you are bad at icing a cake like I am then I recommend going with the 2 cups of chocolate chips and 2 cups of sour cream. I just barely had enough frosting to cover the cake. I can't wait to try it! I hope my friends enjoy it too.
mel52 December 28, 2022
My cake sank in the middle so badly! It looks like the "too much sugar" fault if you Google. Thinking about it now, weight for weight 2 cups of sugar to 2 cups flour is pushing the boundaries for what a cake can handle, and I guess I over packed the sugar and under packed the flour. Super annoying, please just put weights for baking recipes 😭
Amanda H. December 29, 2022
Sorry to hear about the sinking! We don't have the resources to go back and retrofit every recipe to metric, unfortunately. I wish we could, and hope you can understand. Thanks for trying the recipe.
m M. February 26, 2023
Rather than retrofit, perhaps you could provide a cups to grams equivalent?

Mel52, I use 120 grams to 1 cup for flour and 198 grams to 1 cup sugar. Alternately, you can check the nutritional information on the package as it usually provides the conversion..

I haven’t made this cake (but plan too shortly!), so not sure it will work for this recipe. Amanda, It would be very much appreciated to know what your typical cup of flour, sugar… equals in grams.

Thanks for all you do!
Amanda H. March 19, 2023
Hi m M. -- I used two different sets of measuring cups and 1 cup flour was 120 grams in one set and 126 grams in the other; and 1 cup sugar was 204 grams in one set and 218 grams in the other. And I measured each ingredient twice in each set.
I guess I proved your point that metric measurements would be more consistent!
YCandy August 24, 2022
I have made this cake for my own birthday 2 years running. There is no better cake & my friends agree I should keep making my own cake :). Only change is that I use a chocolate buttercream icing. Amazing with vanilla ice cream.
elise August 22, 2022
Thank you for this cake; I have made it many times and love it. I am wondering if there is a substitute for fresh milk as I am lately not keeping milk on hand - have you tried reconstituted powdered milk, canned evaporated, oat milk, or anything else? I love your recipes and videos.
Amanda H. August 22, 2022
Oat milk works
Barbara August 8, 2022
Nestle chocolate chips don’t taste like they used to…I find Trader Joe’s chocolate chips to taste just like the original Nestle product
TanyaW August 6, 2022
I love this recipe! I have made it many times and it’s a favourite because it isn’t sweet. I love Food52! I know each and every recipe will be great!
Amanda H. August 6, 2022
Thanks, Tanya! Really happy to hear you love Food52!
wendie M. April 13, 2022
Hey, y’all, this is a beloved family recipe. Be mindful in your responses. Cheers:)
Hannah February 16, 2022
We loved the cake which was on the denser side. But we did not enjoy the sour cream frosting. If I make the cake again, I’ll be using a traditional fudge frosting instead.
Jodi P. February 5, 2022
Unfortunately, the “helpful” cooking videos with adds that F52 forces on patrons now made this recipe page too distracting and irritating to want to consider baking this particular cake recipe - hard pass.
Stephanie G. February 5, 2022
The cooking videos and ads are off to the side and don't interfere with the page and I just mute their sound. It's not like that for you?

Seriously, this cake is super yummy! You should give it a try!!
Sara G. February 12, 2022
You can simply select “jump to recipe” which appears at the top of the page
Amy April 13, 2022
I often click print which opens up a different page. I don’t print the recipe, but work from that page which has zero ads. Try it!
Steele226 January 22, 2022
Have you ever made this with white chocolate?
Amanda H. January 22, 2022
I haven't but could be fun to try. You might need to make some alterations because white chocolate is just cocoa butter and sugar and unsweetened chocolate, which the recipe calls for, is a mix of cocoa solids and cocoa butter and does not contain sugar. I might cut back the sugar in the recipe by 1/2. Not sure what the absence of cocoa solids will do to the cake but worth experimenting!
Judi L. January 12, 2022
Very nice cake but needs a much nicer frosting.
Melissafitz January 2, 2022
My attempt at this cake was last minute so perhaps the result was adversely affected by that — the cake is tasty but a little dense and not very tall. Maybe I didn’t mix the flour in enough? (The pot I mixed it in was a bit too small, so my mixing ability was limited). Also I’m not 100% sure the oven got to temp before I started the bake. Anyway — it’s yummy so I’ll give it another try and will keep my past mistakes in mind! Thanks, Amanda!
Amanda H. January 2, 2022
Thanks for trying it out! It is a denser cake but a couple of tips may help: 1.) measure your flour by spooning it into your measuring cups and leveling off with a knife; if you measured another way, you may have had too much flour in the cake, which will make it dense. 2.) if your pan is too small, you can always pour the wet mixture into a large bowl before adding and folding in the dry ingredients. And agree with you that the oven temp is key. Hope this is helpful!
Melissafitz January 2, 2022
Thank you so much for your thoughts!! I measure by weight — 140gr per cup. My oven has been taking longer to preheat lately, so I’ll be a bit more patient next time. Meanwhile, it is a delicious cake and was a lovely breakfast! :)
Judi L. January 12, 2022
1 cup all-purpose flour is 120-128 grams.
Sophia September 19, 2021
We love this cake! It’s my son’s new favorite and has requested it for his birthday. How far in advance can I prepare it?
Amanda H. September 27, 2021
Up to two days if covered and refrigerated; let it come to room temperature before serving. Alternatively, I sometimes bake the cake a day ahead and ice it the day of serving.
KoraAdam June 10, 2021
Wondering if you think this could work in a 9 x 13 pan? I’d like to make it for a family party, but temps in the 90s with high humidity here, so would love to keep it simple and a bit sturdier in the pan…
Amanda H. June 13, 2021
Hi KoraAdam -- I haven't tried it but based on comments that people have left, it seems like the cake is pretty flexible and works in different pans. You may need to adjust the baking time tho! Hope it goes well!
mdt February 8, 2022
It works well in two 8" rounds and I had no issues removing it. Don't see why it wouldn't work in a 9x13. You might need to be a little careful removing it.
Sonia May 16, 2021
Hi! I've made this cake about 6 times, and every time, it gets rave reviews! Thanks for sharing your family recipe.
I have now been asked to make it in cupcake form. How much batter should I use for each? Would filling the molds halfway up the sides be too much? Thank you!
Amanda H. May 17, 2021
Hi Sonia -- happy to hear this! For cupcakes, I'd suggest filling the cups 1/3 to 1/2 full but no more or I think they'll run over -- and I'm not sure how long they'll take to bake; I'd check after 10 min. You may want to bake off a single cupcake first as an experiment before doing the rest. Also, then you have one to snack on while you bake the rest. :)
Sonia May 19, 2021
Thank you your advice! I will definitely bake a test cupcake first...strictly in the interest of making sure it doesn't run over! In fact to make extra sure, I might make a second!! ;-)