Chocolate Birthday Cake with Buttercream Frosting


Finding  for the perfect chocolate birthday cake has always been a challenge for me.  There are so many chocolate cake recipes that I can quickly feel overwhelmed.  For her 66th birthday, my mother requested a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting .

Flour-less chocolate cakes are all the rage, and although I’m quite fond of the dark fudge-like cake, it is simply too much for a birthday cake.   Then there are the “too dry” chocolate cakes, the “not chocolate enough” chocolate cakes, the “too crumbly”, etc.

I think Grand Central Bakery’s cookbook nailed the chocolate birthday cake!  I opted not to use the ganache frosting, and found an easy buttercream frosting  that wouldn’t take over the very chocolatey cake.


Let me start with a warning here:  This cake is HUGE! The layers are so thick it looked like a three layer cake.  I don’t know about you, but I think more chocolate is always a good thing!

You can easily split each layer into two layers to make a 4 layered filled cake.  I simply used the two layers and layered with buttercream.

Chocolate Birthday Cake

Adapted from “The Grand Central Baking Book”


4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, broken into chunks

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, broken into chunks

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder ( i use Dagoba)

1 Tbsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup  (8 ounces or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar (1 pound)

6 eggs, at room temperature

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

2 cups (16 ounces) buttermilk, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or flour two 9″ cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper.

Melt semi sweetened and unsweetened chocolate chunks in a double boiler”lower pan filled with an inch of lightly simmering water.  Set aside melted chocolate and cool slightly.

Combine the dry ingredients.  Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into bowl.

Cream teh butter and sugar.  Using a standing mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on med-high for 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy, scrape bottom and sides of bowl with spatula to evenly incorporate the butter.

Add the eggs into a liquid measuring cup with the vanilla.  Mix on low speed, slowly pour in the eggs, let fall one at a time making sure each egg is incorporated before adding the next.

Add the melted chocolate all at once and mix on low speed until slightly combined.  It isn’t important to fully incorporate at this point.

Alternate additions of dry ingredients and buttermilk.  With mixer on low add one-third of the dry ingredients, then half the buttermilk, mixing just till combined after each addition.  repeat using half of the main dry ingredients, and the remaining buttermilk.  Add the remaining dry ingredients and stop the mixer before they’re fully incorporated.  Finish mixing by hand using a sturdy spatula.


Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans.  Run a paring knife through the batter in one smooth motion-onei nch from the edge of the pan.

Bake 30 minutes, then rotate the pans (carefully) and lower the temperature to 325 degrees and bake 25-30 minutes more.  Check with wooden skewer for doneness.  Skewer should have a few crumbs sticking to it but no gooey batter.

Let cakes cool for 15 minutes before turning them out of their pans.  Wait until completely cool before splitting or frosting.

EASY Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Adapted from Viet World Kitchen

Makes enough for a 9-inch 2-layer cake or the equivalent

1 3/4 – 2  sticks  unsalted butter, softened
4 1/2- 5 cups powdered sugar
1 cup dark cocoa powder (use a good quality cocoa)
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Approx.  7-8 Tablespoons heavy cream

Put the butter into a mixing bowl and sift 2/3 of the powdered sugar and 1/2 c cocoa powder into the  mixer bowl.  Mix at low speed till crumbly.  When crumbly, sift the remaining powdered sugar and cocoa into the bowl. Continue creaming the ingredients.

Once combined – it’s fine of the mixture is crumbly and dry looking – add the vanilla and cream. Increase the mixer speed to medium and then medium high to create a fluffy and darkly colored frosting. Pause to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Taste and add extra sugar if more sweetness is needed. The chocolate flavors will deepen as it sits. Add more cream to make a soft, spreadable frosting. Use immediately or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Return to room temperature before using.


Sorry for the wrinkly frosting–I didn’t get around to photographing a slice until the next morning when I removed the saran wrap and had a slice for breakfast 🙂


18 thoughts on “Chocolate Birthday Cake with Buttercream Frosting

  1. That is one glorious cake! I don’t think I could tolerate cake for breakfast, but mid-morning, now that’s another story.

    • I know how stressful it can be to try to bake for your own wedding (I did it and it was a challenge). Now you can bake it when you have time–and you can enjoy it.
      Thank you for visiting 🙂

  2. Hi! I’m baking this cake today for my grandmother’s 86th birthday and I was just curious about one thing. The part about running a knife thru the batter an inch from the pan edge. I haven’t seen anything like this before. Any idea what the benefit is?

    Otherwise, this is looking awesome, mine are about to go into the oven!

    • Happy Belated Birthday to your grandmother! I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you in time. The knife helps keep the cake even while baking (at least I think that is what I read). I hope you enjoyed the cake to!

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