Many chocolate cakes we’ve encountered are so rich and dense that eating a whole piece feels like you’re heading towards death by chocolate. We set out to make a perfect chocolate cake, one from which you can have one piece and still be up for seconds. The result? An old-style, mile-high layer cake with a tender, airy, open crumb and a soft, billowy frosting. Feast your eyes on the step-by-step recipe photos—and then, of course, feast on the cake itself.
1. Make the chocolate pudding: Melt the chocolate, cocoa, and hot water together in a large bowl set over a large saucepan of barely simmering water, making sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Then add the sugar. This chocolate “pudding” boosts the chocolate flavor and adds moisture.
2. Whip the eggs and sugar: Whip the eggs and egg yolks in a large bowl with an electric mixer until combined. Add the remaining sugar and whip until voluminous and very thick. Whipping the sugar and eggs until they form “ribbons” add volume to the cake and make it fluffy.
3. Beat the chocolate pudding into the eggs: Beat the cooled chocolate mixture into the egg mixture until fully incorporated. To avoid a heavy batter and dense cake, it is important to add the thick chocolate pudding to the batter before the flour.
4. Tenderize with butter: Beat the softened butter into the batter, one piece at a time. Adding softened rather than melted, butter helps to ensure that the cake will be tender.
5. Alternate dry and wet ingredients: Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly beat in one-third of the flour mixture. Beat in half of the buttermilk mixture. Repeat with half of the remaining flour mixture, then the remaining buttermilk mixture, and finally the remaining flour mixture. Adding the dry and wet ingredients in small batches helps to develop a more consistent crumb.
6. Tap the pans: Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Gently tap the pans on the counter to settle the batter and bake as directed.
MAKE IT NOW: Our Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake recipe is free until January 31, 2013.