Chocolate Layer Cake

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(from 29 reviews)
Chocolate Layer Cake

My mother was visiting us and I was lucky enough to have her with me for her birthday after 7 years. Another reason this birthday was very special because this was the first time I was going to bake her a birthday cake. So this cake had to be something very special. She loves chocolate and I wanted to bake a decadent chocolate layer cake to celebrate this special occasion.

I already have an eggless chocolate layer cake in the blog. You may know it as the "I can't believe it's chocolate cake" recipe. It's one of the most tried recipes in the blog with top reviews too. But that chocolate cake has only 2 layers. I wanted to make something big, a multiple chocolate layered cake.

That's when I found a moist chocolate layered cake recipe in a magazine. This cake has 4 layers. Even though it looks like you have to spend a lot of time making it, this is a simple chocolate layer cake recipe. It looked pretty easy and used only 2 eggs, so substitution was not a big issue. I used homemade applesauce recipe in place of the eggs. Unlike the other cake recipe which uses oil for the fat, this chocolate layered cake calls for butter making it a very moist, rich and delicious cake. Just one caution though, this one is super duper tasty, so don't blame me if you indulge and gain some pounds.

To make a vegan chocolate layer cake, substitute the butter with vegan butter like Earth Balance and for the buttermilk use non-dairy milk and vinegar.

Chocolate Layer Cake


Chocolate Layer Cake Recipe

Prep TimeCook TimeMakes
15 Mins30 Mins12 servings
Chocolate Layer Cake
4.7 from 29 reviews
Special occasions call for a special treat and this chocolate layer cake should be it. I bet you would wonder why do we need eggs to bake a delicious and decadent cake once you try this recipe.
  • 2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 3/4 cup Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Brown Sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup Unsweetened Applesauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 and 1/2 cups Buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Ingredients For Frosting:
  • 1 cup Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
  • 225-g Unsweetened Chocolate, chopped and melted
  • 1 tablespoon Vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 6 cups Icing Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Milk
  • 1/4 cup water/Milk/Strong Coffee
  1. Preheat oven to 325F/160C for 15 minutes. Line two 9 inch round cake pans with parchment paper and grease it lightly with non stick cooking spray.
  2. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium sized bowl. Stir until mixed.
  3. Beat butter with sugars in a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium for about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the applesauce in two additions, beating well and scraping down sides of bowl after each addition. Mix in the vinegar too. The mixture will look curdled but don't worry.
  5. Beat in vanilla.
  6. Reduce speed and beat one third of flour mixture into butter mixture, then add half the buttermilk.
  7. Repeat additions, scraping down sides until well mixed.
  8. Divide batter evenly between pans and smooth tops. Tap the pans lightly to burst air pockets if any.
  9. Bake in center of oven until a tooth pick inserted in center of cakes comes out clean, 25 to 30 min. If using two racks, move the pan from the top rack to the bottom and the vice-versa in about 15 minutes.
  10. Cool in pans on a rack for 10 minutes.
  11. Run a knife around inside edge of each pan and then turn cakes out onto rack.
  12. Remove parchment. Let cool completely, about 1 hour. I actually left it overnight before I could frost the cake.
For Icing:
  1. Beat butter for icing in a large bowl, using an electric mixer/hand beater on medium, until creamy, 1 min.
  2. Add melted chocolate, vanilla, salt and 1 cup icing sugar. Beat for 1 minute.
  3. With mixer on medium-low, add remaining sugar in 3 parts, alternating remaining liquids (milk and coffee) and ending with sugar.
  4. Beat on medium-high, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, until fluffy and smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.
Frosting the cake:
  1. Be extremely careful while slicing each cake into half because its very delicate. One of my layers actually split in half and I somehow managed to patch it up and used it as the bottom most layer and covered it with the frosting. I think shrink wrapping the 2 cakes with plastic wrap once it has cooled completely and storing it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours will harden it up a little bit and slicing it into half won't be much of a trouble. Check this chocolate cake recipe to learn about frosting a layered cake.
My Notes:
  1. The original frosting was a mocha frosting, which uses 1/4 cup of strong coffee to prepare the icing as I have indicated above. Since I didn't want to add coffee I used plain water from the tap. You can use 1/4 cup of any liquid of your choice; water, coffee or milk.
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(Note: This recipe was updated & republished from the archives)

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  1. Deepa

    Do we need to sift the flour ?

    • Madhuram

      If you think the flour has lumps sifting is preferred.

  2. Rabia Saleem

    Hey, can I replace applesauce with butter milk? So instead of adding 1.5 cup butter milk I will add 2 cups butter milk and skip apple sauce???

    • Madhuram

      It might work Rabia. Probably you will have to bake the cake a few extra minutes.

  3. Nathalie

    What can I substitute buttermilk with?

    • Madhuram

      You can use vegan buttermilk by mixing a teaspoon of vinegar with 1.5 cups of non-dairy milk and use it instead of buttermilk.

  4. Tahira Malik

    Hi ! Do we have to use apple sauce in this recepie , what is the function of that sauce in sponge .?

    • Madhuram

      I have used it as an egg substitute.

  5. seema jain

    Hi, big fan of your blog. I made cup cakes of this recipe, but it cracks from top don’t know why. I baked them on lower rack in convection mode at 160 c for 14 mins. Please help.

    • Madhuram

      Thanks Seema. Maybe for convection mode it needs even lesser time to bake. I haven’t tried baking in convection mode, so not aware if it has anything to do with it.


    hi. I made the Eggleston cake for my son couple of days ago. which turned out really well. how ever your frosting n icing part i found very confusing.
    for the chocolate layer cake which I made has the frosting recipe but u fail to add the procedure. you have attached a link for frosting procedure but talks abt a totally different cake. the frost recipes do not match.
    as for your icing you state the method but no ingridients.
    so I am left searching the net to find a frosting ingredients n the method.

    • Madhuram

      Are you talking about the Chocolate Layer Cake, because I do have included the ingredients and procedure for frosting in the recipe. The ingredients for frosting is below the ingredients for the cake and same with the procedure too. I just have linked to another recipe to show how you have to frost layer cakes, the method that is, because that recipe has step-by-step pictures.

  7. Aarti Gupta

    Hi Madhuram. I have been looking for a chocolate cake recipe for long now. I havent had much luck with chocolate cakes. Either they wouldnt taste good or wouldnt demould. But your recipe is definitely a keeper. Its awesome in taste and texture. Thank you for the wonderful recipe.

    • Madhuram

      You’re very welcome Aarti. 🙂

  8. Eggless Chocolate Cake Recipe | Eggless Cooking

    […] wanted to bake a chocolate layered cake, because he loves it and was going through various resources to find a good eggless recipe. Earlier […]

  9. Pragnya Rao

    Hi Madhuram,

    I baked this cake for my friends daughters bday and it was a total hit…I made a 8 inch 3 layer cake and cupcakes and cake pops of the same batter…I frosted it with buttercream and decorations were fondant.I have been baking for a while and have been referring to a lot of your recipes ..thanks for this website and your recipes and detail instructions and notes. Wish I could share a pic of my creation..

    • Madhuram

      That’s so nice of you for taking the time to give a wonderful feedback. Thanks Pragnya.

  10. Harneet kaur

    Hi i tried this cake today. The cake was looking awesome in the oven but when i took it out and as it cooled down a bit it started deflating .. I used banana instead of applesauce . Can u suggest something to overcome this deflating problem ?

    • Madhuram

      Maybe the liquid ingredients were too much. Or did you keep opening the oven door to check?

  11. Varshika Pitamber

    Hi thank you for the recipe. Unfortunately our first try was a flop as the cake sunk in the center! What went wrong? Will try again but half the recipe.

    • Madhuram

      Did you by any chance over mix the batter or kept opening the oven door to check if it is done?

  12. akanksha

    Can we use oil instead of butter in the cake?

    • Madhuram

      Yes you can Akanksha.

  13. Rachel

    I LOVE this recipe! I have made it four to five times now. Everyone absolutely loves it and always asks for it for their birthday. So I will be making it again for my mother’s birthday, since everyone devours it.
    I will say that it does take a lot longer for it to bake in the oven than what is said in the directions. I just set the timer for 35-40 minutes and then check on it every 10 minutes or so with a toothpick. It can take up to an hour for it to bake properly, but this doesn’t bother me, because when it is done, it is perfect. You just have to be a little flexible on time.

    • Madhuram

      Thank you very much Rachel. 🙂

  14. Bettina

    I love this recipe! Will this recipe work on a 2 tier fondant cake?

    • Madhuram

      Yes it should Bettina.

  15. Marlene

    I tried this cake twice and both times it looked really good in the oven, rising nicely and all. Rather than 2 pans, I used a 8×13 pan. I tested for doneness with a toothpick in the centre after the time listed..30 mins and the centre was still very doughy. I left it an additional 10-12 mins until the toothpick came out clean in the middle. As it cooled, the entire cake deflated to about half its height. This is a problem I have had with every eggless cake…looks good and the collapses. Don’t know what else to try!!! I need eggless to satisfy egg allegies!

    • Madhuram

      Again this recipe too is flawless Mariene. I don’t know what you are doing wrong! Are you over beating the batter, or opening the oven in the middle? Are you living in a high altitude place?

  16. gauri

    How to make apple sauce at home?

  17. gauri

    And Substitute for apple sauce?

    • Madhuram

      You can make applesauce at home itself or try tofu. You may try mashed banana too if you don’t mind the mild banana flavour.

  18. gauri

    Nice recipie but the prob is that some of these ingredients aren’t available in my town. So will u suggest me substitute for some ingredients like brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, unsweetened chocolate?

    • Madhuram

      You can use plain sugar itself, white vinegar and chocolate chips.

  19. Vani

    Lovely recipe..I tried this frosting with some other chocolate was superb! Thanks for sharing such a wonderful recipe 🙂

    • Madhuram

      Thanks Vani.

  20. Jyothi


    Is there any substitute for butter milk. Planning to bake today please reply

    • Madhuram

      Sorry that I’m late with reply. If you are still looking for an answer you can try mixing 1.5 cups of milk (any) with 2 teaspoons of vinegar as a substitute for buttermilk.

  21. Daniel

    most of your recipe are in butter. can you use margarine instead of butter.

    • Madhuram

      Yes you can Daniel.

  22. Surbhi


    Can I replace the apple cider vinegar in this recipe with white vinegar?

    • Madhuram

      Yes you can Surbhi.

      • Surbhi

        Thanks 🙂

  23. Niva

    Out of curiosity, why does the recipe require unsalted butter? I suspect that it is to make the cake a little healthier than it normally would be, but I would like to be certain.

    • Madhuram

      Baking recipes always call for unsalted butter because you can adjust/add the quantity of salt to the dry ingredients.

  24. mini


    I am planning to bake this chocolate cake for my son’s 1 st birthday! I plan to bake in an 11X15 inch pan. Will I have to double this recipe?

    • Madhuram

      You don’t need to Mini. You can use the batter as it is, but it will be a very thin layer cake.

  25. catherine

    Hi just finished making the cake tonight. It is for tomorrow morning, do I store in the fridge or on the counter overnight?

    • Madhuram

      You can store it on the counter itself.