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Wednesday Baking |Chocolate Cake (not from a box)

how to make a chocolate cake from scratch

This is a much-used recipe of mine…it’s my go-to recipe when I need to make a birthday cake.   It turns out a nice, basic chocolate cake, which I can then use to make whatever shape my kids happen to want for their cake.

I think it’s just as easy as a boxed cake mix, and it tastes a lot better. I know some people adore cakes made from a box, but I think a lot of them have an artificial flavor and odd texture, so I’m partial to the homemade kind.

homemade whale birthday cake

I’ve hardly ever used a cake mix, but I know that you have to dump the dry ingredients into a bowl and beat in eggs, and sometimes oil or water.

This recipe is almost as simple…the only extra step is measuring and mixing the dry ingredients (which takes all of about 3 minutes and that’s if you’re moving slowly).

In fact, this is all you need to make a cake:



My recipe calls for butter, which in my opinion makes almost everything taste better. However, you can substitute vegetable shortening if you like.

fish cake

The ingredients listed here make one 9-inch round cake…however, when I took these pictures I was making two cakes (I just didn’t want you to be confused when you saw two eggs and a whole stick of butter in the pictures!)

Quick and Easy Not-From-A-Box Chocolate Cake
Printable Chocolate Cake Recipe


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter (softened) or vegetable shortening (I vote for butter!)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

Before you begin making the cake, heat your oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour a 9 inch round cake pan(I use butter to grease my pans and that has worked much better for me than vegetable shortening ever did).

Mix all the dry ingredients in the bowl of a mixer.


Add milk, butter, and vanilla. Beat on low until combined, then beat on medium speed for two minutes.


Add egg and beat two minutes more.

Pour the batter into prepared cake pan. See, wasn’t that easy??

Mix the dry ingredients, beat in some wet ingredients, beat in the eggs, and your cake batter is ready to bake!

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

chocolate cake cooling in pan

Run a table knife around the edge of the cake pan to loosen the sides, and invert it onto a wire rack.

homemade chocolate layer cake

Let cool completely, frost with whatever frosting you wish (I use a simple buttercream frosting) and enjoy!



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Saturday 30th of April 2022

I have to admit that in all my years of baking, this is the first time I've used this method where you add the liquids to the dry ingredients in stages. I had my doubts but it turned out to be a beautiful cake! It took 35 minutes to fully bake. I plan on cutting it in half vertically, and stacking one on top of the other, turning it into basically a half double layer cake. When you're by yourself a whole big cake is too much of a temptation lol. This way I get the same type of cake, just half the amount. Thanks for a smaller recipe for those of us who don't have big families to feed!


Monday 11th of September 2017

Thanks for such an easy, great recipe! I just pulled this out of the oven and I have to say I'm impressed with how big the cake rises in the pan - normally single layer cakes only seem to get maybe an inch and a half tall, this one reached the top of the pan! It's perfect for empty nesters, newlyweds or for when you have company dropping in unexpectedly. And let's face it, how many people can say no to a slice of home made chocolate cake? lol I'll definitely make this over and over again (my mind is already considering adding a bit of instant coffee to the milk for a mocha cake lol)


Tuesday 4th of April 2017

I'll definately use butter. Shortening is a source of trans-fats.


Tuesday 4th of April 2017

Oh yes, I always use butter. I don't think shortening is healthy, plus it doesn't taste good at all!

Gayle from Boston

Saturday 11th of March 2017

This cake was delish. I frosted with ganache glaze, sprinkled with powder sugar and served with fresh strawberries. This question sounds silly, but can I double this recipe and make 2 layers? I plan to serve the layers separately, but not sure if the ingredients need to be adjusted. Thank you!


Saturday 11th of March 2017

Yep, you can definitely double this to make two layers.


Thursday 15th of December 2016

I was looking for a chocolate cake quick and easy but not a box cake. Found this one and my wife enjoyed greatly. Another thumbs up.


Thursday 15th of December 2016

Yay! So glad to hear it.

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