Super Simple Chocolate Cake {from scratch}

posted by Andrea | 04/8/2015
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chocolate cake from scratch

I have a confession to make — I actually NEVER made a cake from scratch until about a month ago!

I’ve always, always relied on boxed cake mixes because they are cheap, easy, and taste great — so why mess with it, right?

Well, when I was baking up cakes for Simon’s birthday party last month, I realized (a little too late) that I was completely out of chocolate boxed cake mixes. I had plenty of yellow cake mixes, but I really wanted to do the cake with half chocolate, half yellow (and I’m stubborn so I didn’t want to change).

There was NO way I was loading up 2 kids to drive to the store just for one stinkin’ chocolate boxed cake mix when I knew it was most likely extremely simple to make the cake from scratch. So I googled a few different “simple from-scratch cake recipes” and came up with a winner.

Not only does this recipe have super-simple basic baking ingredients you most likely have in your pantry… but it can also be made in ONE bowl — which means hardly any dishes to wash!

If you’d like to venture out into the crazy world of from-scratch cakes, I would highly recommend this super simple recipe!

Plus, look how cute my Thomas the Train cake turned out 🙂

Recipe for Chocolate Cake from Scratch

{print recipe}

Serves 12-14

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 c. white sugar
  • 1¾ c. all-purpose flour
  • ¾ c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1½ t. baking powder
  • 1½ t. baking soda
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. milk
  • ½ c. vegetable oil
  • 2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. very hot water

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF and grease your pans (I used a 9″ x 13″ but this recipe makes a lot so you could easily use two 9″ rounds or three 8″ rounds)
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients
  • Add all wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until thoroughly combined
  • Pour into prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes or until center is set
  • Let cool completely and frost as desired

I’m honestly not a huge cake fan (I always had ice-cream sundaes or pie for my birthday) but in my experience, from-scratch cakes have often tasted drier and less flavorful than cake from the box.

However, for a non-cake-lover, I was pleasantly surprised by the texture and moisture of this from-scratch cake. And although I never mentioned that the chocolate cake was from scratch, I got several compliments on it at Simon’s party (and Simon certainly approved!)

Also, as I mentioned above, this “from-scratch” cake mix makes A LOT more cake than a boxed mix (see photos below of chocolate from-scratch cake versus yellow boxed-mix cake in the same pan).

I certainly don’t anticipate making all future cakes from scratch, but I am happy to know I have a go-to recipe in case I ever run out of the boxed mixes again 🙂

Are you a from-scratch or boxed cake mix person?

Visit my virtual recipe box for more simple, delicious, family friendly recipes!

chocolate cake from scratch

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12 comments

  1. Stephanie

    04/09/2015

    Is this a recipe you made after viewing a couple recipes? If not, can I have the original source? It is only proper to give credit where credit is due. 🙂
    Thanks!

    [Reply]

  2. Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    04/08/2015

    That cake is adorable, Andrea!

    I don’t blame you for not wanting to head to the store with 2 kids for one cake mix. I do like boxed mixes, but I like homemade because of the simple, real ingredients.

    Thanks for sharing this. We have 2 birthdays this month so this is perfect!

    [Reply]

  3. Lea

    04/08/2015

    From scratch – though I have used cake mixes on occasion. I had to laugh when you said you find from scratch too dry usually because that’s usually my opinion of mixes. I guess I’ve always made the cakes in one bowl (maybe that’s just the set of recipes I have?) so I’ve never found it to be much of a hassle.

    Thanks for sharing your recipe,
    Lea

    [Reply]

  4. Kristen @ Joyfully Thriving

    04/08/2015

    Ha! I’m not really a cake fan myself (unless it’s cheesecake!) but made a from-scratch cake for Nathan’s first birthday. It was fine. Nothing spectacular – and my husband requested that I only make cake from the box again!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha yes! We also usually prefer boxed cake (and brownie) mixes versus from-scratch recipes 🙂

    [Reply]

  5. Becca

    04/08/2015

    I usually only make from – scratch cakes BECAUSE they’re so simple!! (and taste much better, in my opinion. :)) Yours looks delicious!! You did a fabulous job decorating it, too….that’s where I always run into trouble. Did you make the frosting, too? If you need one, this is an amazing and super simple recipe: http://www.marthastewart.com/313083/quick-chocolate-frosting

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Becca! I did make the frosting — not really using a recipe, just powdered sugar, butter, milk, vanilla, and food coloring. I just kept adding a little more of this and that until it was the right consistency 🙂

    [Reply]

  6. Calliope

    04/08/2015

    Always from scratch! It is so easy and the alternative sooo loaded with E and artificials.

    [Reply]

  7. Jules

    04/08/2015

    Yes! This is the Hershey’s cocoa recipe and probably my favorite chocolate cake recipe because it is *not* dry – that’s an issue I have had with all chocolate cake, from a box and otherwise, made at home, ordered from a restaurant, etc.

    Ann is 100% right; the cake is actually better the next day, but it rarely is around that long. Glad you came across the recipe, is perfect for your simple – but delicious – cooking and baking styles

    [Reply]

  8. Ann

    04/08/2015

    Andrea, This recipe is the Hershey’s Chocolate Cake recipe & it is DELICIOUS! It gets more moist each day…if there’s any left! Love your blog!

    [Reply]

  9. Lee Cockrum

    04/08/2015

    I have to admit, I’m a total cake snob! I only do from scratch. Growing up I did not even know that you could make a cake from a box till I was 13 or 14. The cake you made above looks similar to a recipe that I use from the side of the Hershey’s dark cocoa tin. It is the BEST chocolate cake ever. I get raves every time I make it. I also make a hot milk sponge cake, with many variations. It can be made plain for a yellow cake, with yummy spices for spice cake, with ground black walnuts for black walnut cake, with apples and cinnamon for apple cake.

    Although I never use box cakes, I do admit to almost always using a bundt pan rather than dealing with multiple layers!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    we almost ALWAYS make bundt cakes too — I just needed a rectangle cake for the birthday cake 🙂

    [Reply]