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Chocolate Cake

This chocolate cake is the one I’ve been making since I learned to bake as a kid. It’s easy and delicious! Fudgy, dense, rich and moist chocolate cake. It’s simple dessert perfection!

Homemade Chocolate Cake slice on an ivory stoneware plate with a blue print fabric napkin alongside
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It’s okay to look away if you need to. I know, that recipe card is tough to look at. lol It’s one of the ones, copied in my mom’s handwriting, that went off to college with me in a little wooden recipe box.

I’m not really a “stuff” person. I despise clutter and don’t even keep knick-knacks around, for the most part. So, I understand that it is 100% irrational to not copy that onto a fresh, clean card.

recipe card

The problem is that like cooking and baking, this recipe card brings back some of my favorite memories of people and places and celebrations.

It’s splattered with remnants of anniversary celebrations and our kids’ favorite birthday cakes. It’s the first cake I learned to make on my own, as a child.

Plus, let’s be real. A recipe card that looks like this has a lot of miles on it. It’s been USED. ‘Cause this cake is GOOD.

frosted chocolate cake

So, while I understand if you’re peeking at it through your fingers, with your hands over your face, my heart isn’t quite ready to let this one go, yet.

The Ingredients

If you squint and look at that recipe card, you’ll probably notice the first ingredient is lard. We did use lard when I was growing up.

However, since I’ve been on my own, I’ve only used butter. If you have a good source for organic lard, it will definitely work well in this recipe, but butter is scrumptious.

While it’s not a 5-ingredient recipe, it IS simple and uses common pantry ingredients. I never buy chocolate cake mix and after eating this luscious cake, I’m betting you won’t ever, either.

homemade chocolate cake with fudge frosting on a white plate.  Plate is sitting on a wooden table and there is a blue and white gingham napkin on the right.

It’s the one and only cake I would devour, even without frosting. But, yeah…you have to try it with this awesome Favorite Fudge Frosting or just do what I do when I’m in a pinch for time. Pillsbury Chocolate Fudge frosting in the can is heavenly on this cake. And if you want a showstopping stunner for Fall, it’s both beautiful AND delicious with this luscious Pumpkin Whipped Cream!

  • Butter
  • Sugar
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Cocoa Powder
  • All Purpose Unbleached Flour
  • Baking Soda
  • Salt
  • Homemade Vanilla Extract
  • Boiling Water

How to Make Chocolate Cake

Cream together butter and sugar.  I do this in my *stand mixer, but the recipe can be made by hand.  I have successfully done it that way, many times.

Add the eggs and milk to the butter mixture and beat hard.  (Don’t fret if it looks a little “curdled” after this step.  There will be tiny flecks of butter throughout the mixture.)

adding eggs to chocolate cake batter

Next, add the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Beat to incorporate all the ingredients and to create a very thick batter. (Be sure to scrape down the sides of your bowl, so that everything is well mixed.)

adding dry ingredients to chocolate cake batter
chocolate cake batter before boiling water

Pour in the boiling water and vanilla.  (This is the step that bakes in all that lovely moisture and keeps the cake tender.) 

Mix just until the water has been incorporated into the batter. It will thin the batter, substantially.

Pour the batter into a greased 9×13 pan (or two greased *9×9 squares or rounds) and bake at 350°.  The 9×13 will take 35-45 minutes depending on your oven.  The small pans will take 25-30 minutes.  The cake will begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick in the center will come out clean, when the cake is done.

Cool the cakes completely and then frost with Favorite Fudge Frosting.

Homemade Chocolate Cake slice on an ivory stoneware plate with a blue print fabric napkin alongside

Ok, go make your family a wonderful chocolate cake! You can definitely do it!

If what you’re looking for is more of a single serving chocolate fix, give this yummy Hot Chocolate Mug Cake a try.

And if you need a non-chocolate option for a gorgeous celebration cake, check out Jolina’s Ube Cake over at the Unlikely Baker.

The Recipe

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Homemade Chocolate Cake with Fudge Frosting on a white plate

Chocolate Cake


  • Author: Glenda Embree
  • Total Time: 0 hours
  • Yield: 1215 pieces 1x

Description

Hands down, the best chocolate cake I’ve ever eaten!  I’ve been making this cake for more than 50 years and it is still the family favorite chocolate cake.  Moist, dense and delicious.  Cake the way Grandma used to make them!


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 cup butter, softened (not melted)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup milk, room temperature
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon homemade vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

 


Instructions

  1. Cream together butter and sugar.  I do this in my stand mixer, but the recipe can be made by hand.  I have done it that way, before.
  2. Add the eggs and milk and beat hard.  (Don’t fret if it looks a little “curdled” after this step.  There will be tiny flecks of butter throughout the mixture if you forgot to bring your milk and eggs to room temperature.  I promise it will be okay.)
  3. Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Beat hard to incorporate all the ingredients and to create a very thick batter. (Be sure to scrape down the sides of your bowl and be sure everything is well mixed.
  5. Add the boiling water and vanilla.  (This is the step that bakes in all that lovely moisture and keeps the cake tender.) 
  6. Mix just until the water has been incorporated into the batter.
  7. Pour the batter into a greased 9×13 pan (or two *9×9 squares or rounds) and bake at 350°.  The 9×13 will take 35-45 minutes depending on your oven.  The small pans will take 25-30 minutes.  The cake will begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick in the center will come out clean, when the cake is done.

Notes

This cake will raise rather domed and high in the center as it bakes, but when you pull it out of the oven to cool it will settle to a flat-topped cake, because of the high moisture content.  Don’t panic.  That’s exactly as it should be.  The cake is dense and moist and the way cakes tasted before the advent of mixes.  It will remind you of Sunday dinner at your grandma’s.

  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 25 – 35 min
  • Category: Cakes, Desserts
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

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glenda embree

About Glenda

I believe cooking from scratch doesn’t have to be complicated and that YOU can do it. My simple recipes, tutorials, and cooking tips will help you get weeknight dinners on the table with less stress. Forget takeout or the drive-thru. Let me show you how to make homemade easy. Read more...

26 thoughts on “Chocolate Cake”

  1. Oh. So. Yummy! There is nothing like a vintage family recipe… unless it’s a vintage chocolate cake recipe. Thank you for sharing this. 🙂

    Reply
  2. Glenda, thank you so much for sharing this treasure! I made this chocolate cake and everybody said this is the most decadent, luscious chocolate cake ever!

    Reply
  3. I love when people share their most loved recipe cards! I have several of these from my mom and I know what a splattered and torn recipe card means – it means that this one is a keeper! I look forward to trying your chocolate cake recipe!

    Reply
  4. I have old cookbooks with taped pages and recipe cards that look near the same and I won’t re-write them either. Those recipes and what they are printed on are the only way to travel back in time 🙂 Your ultimate chocolate cake looks amazing!!

    Reply

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