I fancy myself someone who knows her way around the kitchen well in every way outside of baking. I make a delicious spaghetti bolognese and I can easily whip up a topping-heavy omelette, but I prefer to keep the mixing bowls and frosting spatulas in their drawers where they belong. Sure I can make a few easy-as-pie desserts like these four ingredient cookies or my most beloved no bake peanut butter bars (they’re outrageously good), but I’d much rather stick to the savory dishes like this rich baked orzo with crispy chicken and chopped sun dried tomatoes. However, I recently had the novel idea of baking a chocolate cake from scratch for my supervisor Jon on his birthday. He loves the four layer chocolate cake from Nico’s, but I wanted to make a cake of my own because how hard could it be? Spoiler alert: extremely hard. Did I already say I’m not a baker? I found this recipe for a three layer chocolate cake from the Stay At Home Chef’s youtube channel and it seemed easy enough to follow even without buttermilk and adjustments made for two layers instead of three. I made my own chocolate buttercream frosting from Recipes by Carina’s technique and I bought blue icing from the store to decorate the top of the cake. I followed someone’s modified recipe for two layers of the chocolate cake but I don’t think they included enough oil or my milk and vinegar substitute for buttermilk wasn’t creamy enough because the cake turned out dry!! It had a decent chocolate flavor and the buttercream frosting was tasty, but the cake itself was dense and dry—my worst nightmare after baking for 8 hours! I’m truly the worst. Below I’m including the original cake recipe, which seems like a crowd favorite (27 million views and counting) and the frosting one I used as well. I’m sure the Stay At Home Chef knows what she’s doing and her cake looks far better than mine, but I had fun baking and I think it was enjoyed by all!
Ingredients (3 9×9 inch cakes):
- Butter and cocoa powder for coating the pans
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 1½ cups unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1½ cups buttermilk
- 1½ cups warm water
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Butter three 9-inch cake rounds, dust with cocoa powder, and tap out the excess.
- Mix flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in stand mixer on low until combined.
- Add eggs, buttermilk, warm water, oil, and vanilla on medium until smooth.
- Divide batter among the three pans by cups.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool cakes on wire racks.
- 2 sticks butter
- 5 cups powdered sugar
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 4 tablespoons milk (give or take)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Place room temperature (important!!!) butter in stand mixer bowl and beat on high speed for about 10 minutes until the butter is soft and almost doubled in volume.
- Add powdered sugar in three parts until combined.
- Add cocoa powder with last third of sugar and combine.
- Turn mixer to low and slowly pour milk in until frosting loosens and becomes spreadable.
- Incorporate vanilla extract and mix on low.
- Chill in fridge for 5 minutes but be sure to remove so as not to harden before time for frosting.