Everyday Chocolate Cake

Everyday chocolate cake. Moist, rich, and topped with a silk smooth cocoa frosting. This is one cake you’ll want to make over and over again!

Everyday chocolate cake cut into individual servings. | lifemadesimplebakes.com

On Instagram a few weeks ago I set up polls to see what types of recipes you guys were interested in. It looks like you wanted to see more quick and easy desserts with some intricate show-stoppers sprinkled in between.

I’m right there with you! I love a good three layer cake (hello pistachio cake), but I’m ALL about desserts you can make on a whim. Nothing too fussy, no hard to find ingredients, and nothing overly time consuming. I have three little children after all!!

This everyday chocolate cake is one we’ve really grown to love. You make it in one bowl, in under an hour and it tastes amazing!

Baked and frosted everyday chocolate cake with cocoa buttercream. | lifemadesimplebakes.com

Run into the kitchen, grab a 9×9 inch baking pan, a hand mixer and let’s get baking! ?

Espresso powder enhances the chocolate in this everyday chocolate cake. | lifemadesimplebakes.com

First things first. Combine the brown sugar and granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl. I find using a bit of brown sugar adds depth of flavor and moisture to this cake. Both of which are important characteristics of a good chocolate cake!

Add the oil, eggs, vanilla, buttermilk and water. In almost all of my chocolate based recipes I add espresso powder to the water. It’s a trick I learned when I worked at Sur La Table. It enhances the flavor of the chocolate without being noticeable. This is not an espresso cake, so don’t expect to taste it. ?

Cocoa powder in a mesh sieve for this everyday chocolate cake. | lifemadesimplebakes.com

After the wet ingredients have been mixed together, add the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. Make sure to sift the cocoa powder so that you don’t end up with clumps in your batter.

The batter should be fairly wet and runny.

Cake batter mixed in one bowl for this everyday chocolate cake. | lifemadesimplebakes.com

Bake the cake for 30-35 minutes. You’ll know the cake is done when the top springs back when touched. A toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of the cake will also give you an idea doneness. We’re looking for just a few moist crumbs.

While the cake is cooling you can whip up the frosting in the same bowl you made the batter in. The fewer the dishes the better, right?!

Light, sweet cocoa frosting to top the everyday chocolate cake. | lifemadesimplebakes.com

Once the cake is completely cool, spread the frosting over top and sprinkle with chocolate pearls, chocolate curls/shavings, or chocolate jimmies. Whatever you have on hand! We’ve made this cake a few times, once with rainbow sprinkles and once with mini M&Ms. It’s definitely a clean-out-the-baking-shelf kind of cake.

Slice it up in 9 or 16 pieces depending on how many people you plan on serving it to. I was instructed to cut BIG pieces because my kiddos have eyes bigger than their teeny little stomachs. ?

Cutting into the everyday chocolate cake topped with chocolate curls and crunchy chocolate pearls. | lifemadesimplebakes.com

Serve with a tall glass of milk, cause you’re gonna need it!

I hope you’ll fall in love with this everyday chocolate cake. It’s rich, moist and decadent. Everything a good chocolate cake should be!

P.S. I’m hoping to add a few more “everyday cakes” to the blog. What kind of cake would you love to see simplified? Leave a comment below and let me know!

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Everyday chocolate cake ready to be served. | lifemadesimplebakes.com

Everyday Chocolate Cake

Everyday chocolate cake. Moist, rich, and topped with a silk smooth cocoa frosting. This is one cake you'll want to make over and over again!
5 from 5 votes
Pin Rate
Course: Cakes & Cheesecakes
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 1 hr
Servings: 9 x9-inch chocolate cake
Author: Natalie Dicks
Print Recipe


For the cake:
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c. buttermilk
  • 3/4 c. warm water + ½ tsp. espresso powder - espresso is optional
  • 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. coarse kosher sea salt - not fine
  • 3/4 c. quality unsweetened cocoa powder*
For the frosting:
  • 1/2 c. 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened natural - dutch process or cocoa rouge cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 pinches coarse sea salt
For the garnish:
  • 1/4 c. chocolate curls - chocolate jimmies or crunchy dark chocolate pearls


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 9x9-inch square pan with parchment paper, set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the sugars and oil for 30 seconds. Add the vanilla and eggs, mixing well after each addition. Pour in the vanilla, buttermilk and hot water. Mix until combined.
  • Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Sift cocoa powder over top. Mix until combined, about 30 seconds.
  • Pour into prepared pan. Place in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top springs back when touched (or a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean).
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  • For the frosting: in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl with a handheld mixer, beat the butter until light and creamy, about 2 minutes.
  • Carefully add in the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, milk, vanilla and salt, beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  • Spread over the cooled cake. Top with desired garnishes.