Yesterday our oldest boy celebrated his fifth birthday. I made a big batch of cupcakes for his class, but I wanted to make a special cake for when his friends came over tonight. So I searched all over the internet and ended up settling for a recipe called simply “Best Chocolate Cake.” Here is the recipe, along with some pictures I took of the process.

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
2 cups sugar
¾ cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
½ cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup water, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 1 10-inch round cake pan. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pan.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, vanilla, and water. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry.

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. (The cloth thing around my pan is a thing I picked up that soaks in water beforehand to keep the edges of the pan cool during the baking process. It results in a flatter cake instead of one with a mountain in the middle.) Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Place one layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

The recipe I used for the filling was just a simple ganache. It sounds intimidating, but it’s not. Simply bring to a boil 1 cup of heavy whipping cream, then remove from the heat and pour it over 9 ounces of shaved/chopped bittersweet chocolate. Stir it up until there are no chunks left. I let it cool before I put it on top of the first layer.

The recipe I used for the frosting was chocolate buttercream:

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks or 1/2 pound), softened (but not melted!)
3 1/2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon almond extract
4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream

Cream the butter for a few minutes in a mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed. Turn off the mixer. Sift 3 cups powdered sugar and cocoa into the mixing bowl. Turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the dry ingredients do not blow everywhere) until the sugar and cocoa are absorbed by the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add a little more sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add additional milk 1 tablespoon at a time.
The top had some leftover ganache on it, and was ringed with mini Hershey kisses. Chocolate overload… just a bit. Let me tell you… that was one DELICIOUS cake!
Happy birthday, my big boy!