Yesterday after an amazing fall day out together as a family, I made Adam a double chocolate birthday cake–his favorite. But I decided not to go with my traditional recipe; I’m hunting for something a little more moist these days, and really–do 2 adults need a 3-layer cake all to themselves? Normally we have some of my family around to celebrate and eat cake, but September turned into a rough month of illnesses and work deadlines for everyone. So I cracked open my trusty America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book and made the Old-Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake instead. Made with a “pudding” of chocolate rather than just melted chocolate, even the distraction of a hungry 6 month old couldn’t make me over bake and dry this one out. It was exactly what a good chocolate birthday cake is supposed to taste like, straight from childhood.

And I made a proper chocolate buttercream frosting for it, because that’s just the kind of wife I am.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake
1/4 cup (3/4 ounce) Dutch-processed cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting
1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup hot water
1 3/4 cups (12 1/2 ounces) sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened
4 cups frosting or buttercream

  • To make chocolate buttercream: Follow this recipe for vanilla buttercream all the way through, then add 8 ounces of melted bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate and whip the mixture for another minute until combined.

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