Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting that I baked for my birthday

The best Chocolate Cake I’ve ever made! It has the perfect moist crumb, lightly fudgy, incredibly intense chocolate flavour, and melt-in-your-mouth texture. This is my favourite homemade chocolate cake recipe hands-down. Frosted with chocolate buttercream and more chocolate for my chocolate-loving soul's 36th birthday! Returning reader? Jump to Recipe. 

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

I made this cake the first time for Z's farewell while in Yanbu! It was my first ever frosted cake which I baked on the stove-top. So I had to halve the recipe and bake twice for a two-layered cake. This recipe is adapted from my favourite baker, Sally at Sally's Baking Addiction

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

I wanted to get my frosting game better than this... I had used a butter knife for those lines and had only cinnamon chips in hand which surprisingly went well with the chocolate frosting and cake. I immediately got another chance to bake this cake for Ragee's foster mom and I planned and executed the whole thing between two days which gave me ample time to learn to frost the cake. 
Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Better right? The mnms are indeed a beauty and totally kids favourite! So both the time being the host, I didn't get to relish the cake as much as I wanted to. I had decided then that my next birthday cake is going to be this full-on two-layered chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and more chocolates to garnish just like Sally's triple chocolate cake. I am not lying - F and I ate the whole cake in a span of three days. 

The first and the second time I used only buttermilk (laban) in the batter, but this time Sally had updated her recipe with a sour cream version. I wanted to try that too but had no sour cream, so used labneh which is a hung curd version of the gulf countries. So please read the recipe carefully to understand the substitute options. 

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

This year we chose to stay home so F took off from work and spent the day with me. My neighbour came over with a bouquet of orchids surprising me and made me feel so special. I had casually mentioned my bday date when I shared the coffee cake some time ago. As she was also on a sugar-free diet, she hardly had a wedge of the cake. My only other friend in this city was down with fever and then the COVID was already doing the fear vibes so it was just me and F and the cake. 😂 We did step out for a movie at Marina mall and had coffee at Starbucks - too much to ask of an introverted husband - but he did it anyway for me 🤣 Came home even before the sunset - and had my cup of chai and some more cake! 

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Photo captured right after midnight cake cutting! 

Chocolate Cake Ingredients

  • All-Purpose flour: aka maida. 
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder: Hershey's unsweetened cocoa powder is what I used. 
  • Baking soda & Baking powder: Both required. 
  • Salt: a pinch brings out the flavours 
  • Instant coffee powder: Coffee enhances the chocolate flavour but the cake will not taste like coffee. Trust me! But if you don't have it then skip it - no issues. 
  • Oil: Oil is better than butter in this recipe and to be honest I love using oil as it is easy to measure :-) 
  • Eggs: Room temperature. If you forgot to keep it out, then place the refrigerated egg in a bowl of tap water for 10 minutes. 
  • Buttermilk: I used Laban. The moisture and acidity from the buttermilk make the cake taste better. But if you don't have, then just dilute yoghurt with water. see recipe. 
  • Labneh: You can use sour cream or hung curd instead. You can skip this ingredient and add more buttermilk itself but I highly recommend that you add this for the best texture! 
  • Vanilla extract: Adds flavour.
  • Hot water: Hot water helps the cocoa powder and the coffee powder in the batter to bloom and dissolve any lumps. 

How to make Chocolate Cake?

I love recipes that don't call for creaming butter and sugar - somehow I detest that step. Now, you know why this is my favourite recipe. Make sure your ingredients are all room temperature! All you need is two bowls and a whisk or a handheld electric whisk. Whisk the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and then add the hot water, whisk everything together one last time. Divide between two 8-inch cake pans. But because I don't own two pans, I made the cake twice. Bake for approx 25 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test in the centre of the cake. I have provided the details in the recipe section. 

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Chocolate Buttercream Ingredients

  • Unsalted butter: If using salted butter, then skip the salt 
  • Icing sugar: aka powdered or confectioners sugar
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder: I used Hershey's 
  • Whipping cream: Sally uses heavy cream which is hard to find here. But feel free to use full-fat milk. I personally prefer the cream because it adds a structure to the buttercream that allows me to spread it neatly. 
  • Vanilla extract: pure or essence or powder
  • Salt: skip if using salted butter
  • Note: In case you don't have buttermilk, laban, labneh, sour cream, hung curd, etc. Just skip the buttermilk and labneh and use 1/2 cup of well-whisked yoghurt. 

How to make Chocolate buttercream frosting?

My recipe for the chocolate buttercream frosting is half of Sally's recipe and was enough for us - considering that we are the only two souls to consume the cake, I spared us some sugar by reducing the frosting. But if you want a thick layer of frosting, then please double the recipe. To make the frosting, ensure to use softened butter and store-bought icing sugar - that is the only factor that will yield creamy buttercream. If you use butter that is not softened to room temperature, then you will get grainy buttercream. If you powder sugar at home, you have to sieve it to make sure there are no grainy granules. Also, if using whipping cream like me, do not over whip - which will make the buttercream very light in weight and colour. 

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

This is how I divided the task:
Day 1 - Feb 21 - baked two cakes - cling wrapped individually and refrigerated 
Day 2 - Feb 22 - prepared the frosting and assembled the cake 
Day 3 - Feb 23 - 12 am - celebration cake cutting
Day 3 and 4 -  devoured the cake 😋

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting


all measurements are made using measuring cups where 1 cup = 250ml and used scoop and sweep method.

The recipe for the cake batter is only for one 8 inch cake. To make it for a two-layered cake, I prepared the cake twice because at that time I didn't have two cake pans of the same size. You may double the batter recipe and divide the batter evenly between two cake pans and bake together. The frosting recipe was just enough for my two-layered cake but feel free to double it if you want a thick layer of frosting over the cake. 

For the Chocolate Cake Batter (single layer)

Dry Ingredients - Large Bowl
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (maida) 
  • 3/4 cup sugar 
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa powder (Hershey's unsweetened) 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
Wet Ingredients - Medium bowl 
  • 1/4 cup sunflower oil (or any flavourless cooking oil)
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk (laban)* (room temp)
  • 6 tablespoon labneh or sour cream or hung curd** (room temp)
  • 1/4 cup hot water
* You can use diluted curd - 2 tbsp curd with 2 tbsp water 
**You can skip this and add 1/4 cup more buttermilk itself. But Highly recommended. You may strain some yoghurt to make hung curd at home.

Note: In case you don't have buttermilk, laban, labneh, sour cream, hung curd, etc. then, skip the buttermilk and labneh and use 1/2 cup well-whisked yoghurt and also add 1/4 cup more hot water. 

For the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (enough for two-layered cake)

  • 145gms unsalted butter softened to room temperature (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 180 to 200gms or 1 and 1/2 cup icing sugar 
  • 30gms or 6 tablespoons cocoa powder (Hershey's)
  • 2 tablespoons full-fat milk or whipping cream*
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt 
*For this recipe, I used whipping cream but milk will do too. 

For garnishing the cake I used these:

  • Little Hearts biscuits
  • Lotus Biscoff Rolls Belgian chocolate
  • Loacker chocolate wafers
  • Diary milk chocolate


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C with the rack in the middle.
  2. Grease one 8-inch cake pan and also line the bottom with baking paper as it helps the cake release from the pan easily.
Prepare the Chocolate Cake

For the cake batter, you may use a stand mixer, hand electric mixer or just a hand whisk. I have tried both hand electric mixer and hand whisk and they work perfectly fine. 
  1. Take a large bowl and add all of the dry ingredients and whisk to combine.
  2. Take a smaller bowl and whisk the oil, eggs, and vanilla together until combined. Add the room temp buttermilk and labneh (if using) and whisk until combined. 
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, add the hot water, and whisk until the batter is completely combined. The batter will be thin. Pour the batter into the greased cake pan. If you doubled the batter recipe, then divide the batter evenly between two 8-inch pans. 
  4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. 
  5. Remove the cake from the oven and set it on a wire rack. Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan itself. Once cooled completely, cling wrap the cake and keep aside or refrigerate for up to 2 days. For the two-layered cake, prepare one more cake layer the same way - and cling wrap after it is cooled completely.
Prepare the chocolate buttercream frosting
  1. Add the room temperature softened butter into a large bowl. Beat the butter with an electric handheld mixer on medium speed until creamy, for about 2 minutes. 
  2. Add the icing sugar, cocoa powder, whipping cream (or milk), salt, and vanilla extract. Beat this on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high speed and beat for one minute.
  3. Adjust the consistency. If the frosting is too thin then add more icing sugar or cocoa powder. If the frosting is too thick, then add another tablespoon of cream. 
  4. Taste and adjust the salt and sugar accordingly. You may use it immediately to frost the cooled cake or refrigerate for up to 2 days. To use, bring to room temperature. 
Assemble and frost the chocolate cake
  1. If your cooled cakes are domed on top then use a serrated knife aka bread knife to slice off a thin layer to create a flat surface. Don't discard them - it is your treat. A flat surface will help frost the cake neatly. My cakes did not dome so I didn't have to do it. But ovens are different and you might end up with one and it is normal too. 
  2. Place a knob of buttercream in the centre of your serving plate - this will help the cake to adhere to the plate. Place one cake layer, flat side facing down.
  3. Spread some buttercream to cover the top of this cake evenly - use the blunt side of the bread knife or an offset spatula to level the frosting. 
  4. Now, place the 2nd cake with the flat side facing the top - this will make frosting easy and neat
  5. Spread remaining frosting all over the top and sides of the cake. Use an offset spatula to level the top and push the excess towards the edge. Use the blunt side of a bread knife or rubber spatula to spread the frosting on the sides. You may watch this video for visual help.
  6. Garnish the cake as you like - unleash your creativity! 
  7. Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes before slicing to firm up the frosting which will help make a neat cut while slicing.
  8. Store any leftover cake covered tightly in the refrigerator for up to 5 days - better to distribute and finish off than indulge and having to burn the calories :-P 
Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Looking for an eggless option? Check this chocolate cake with strawberries and this chocolate cake with ganache!


I would love to hear from you. If you have made this recipe then do leave a comment below. If you like this recipe then do share the recipe link on Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Follow me on Instagram and mention @butfirstchaai or tag #butfirstchai so that I can see your creations!