Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake Recipe With Cocoa Frosting

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This old-fashioned chocolate cake recipe makes an irresistibly thick, decadent, and downright delicious 3-layer cake with rich cocoa buttercream frosting.

A homemade cake is always a perfect choice for a birthday party, anniversaries, potlucks and dinner parties. And digging into a forkful of moist chocolate cake makes any gathering feel like a special occasion.

Old Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake Recipe Without Milk With Homemade Cocoa Frosting

ingredients for old fashioned chocolate Layer cake Without Milk

As the “old fashioned” name implies, this is a moist chocolate cake recipe without milk. Instead, moisture is added to the crumb by adding boiling water. The extreme heat helps to activate and enhance the rich chocolate flavor of the cocoa powder.

This easy cake recipe calls for basic ingredients you likely already have on hand.

Simple Ingredients For The Classic Chocolate Cake

  • Unsalted butter
  • Granulated sugar
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla extract
  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Boiling water

Chocolate Buttercream INGREDIENTS

Ingredients For Easy Cocoa Buttercream

  • Unsalted butter
  • Cocoa powder
  • Powdered sugar
  • Whole milk (or dairy-free substitute)
  • Real vanilla extract

Get the full recipe for 5-Minute Chocolate Buttercream Frosting here.

Old Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake Recipe Without Milk With Homemade Cocoa Frosting

How to Make the Best Chocolate Cake Without Milk

Time-Saving Tip:
Make the cakes the night before you plan to serve. Let the cake layers cool completely before covering the baking pans with foil or wrapping in plastic wrap. Then the cooled cakes will be ready to quickly frost the next day.

Step 1: Make the Batter

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 3 8” round cake pans, then line the bottom of the pans with round parchment paper. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer or electric mixer, cream the soft butter and white sugar in a large bowl.

Butter and sugar being creamed together with hand mixer in a glass bowl.

Add in the eggs and vanilla and mix until well blended.

Adding cracked eggs from a measuring pitcher into the creamed butter and sugar.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set the flour mixture aside.

Next, mix the cocoa powder and boiling water in a medium bowl until well combined and no lumps remain.

Pouring boiling water from a metal pitcher into cocoa powder in a glass bowl.

You now have one bowl of creamed butter and sugar, one bowl of dry baking ingredients, and one bowl of cocoa powder dissolved in boiling hot water.

Two glass bowls. One with chocolate water mixture, the other with creamed sugar, butter, and eggs.

Alternating between the two, slowly add dry ingredients and cocoa mixture to the bowl with the butter and sugar.

Glass bowl of creamed butter, sugar, and eggs with flour added.

Mix on low to medium speed in intervals to incorporate ingredients.

old fashioned chocolate cake batter in a glass mixing bowl, with electric beater mixing.

Pour batter evenly between the three cake pans and place in the pre-heated oven.

Old fashioned chocolate cake batter in a round metal cake pan.

Step 2: Bake and Cool

Bake 22-28 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center of the warm cake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for approximately 10 minutes before transferring the cakes from the pans to a wire rack to cool completely, approximately 10-15 more minutes.

Pro Tip: Cakes should no longer be warm to the touch before frosting.

Step 3: Assemble the Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

Place the first layer top-side down on a cake plate. Add 1/3 of the homemade cocoa buttercream frosting to the top of the cake layer and spread it out evenly. Take the second layer and level off the rounded top with a knife or cake leveler.

Place the second layer on top of the first layer, top-side down. Add frosting to this layer and spread out evenly.

Repeat this with the 3rd layer, and spread the remaining frosting out on the top layer.

What Dairy-Free Frosting is Best for This Chocolate Cake Recipe Without Milk?

You can easily whip up a delicious dairy-free frosting! In our post all about 8 Ways to Make Frosting Without Butter, you’ll find some great tips for making a classic frosting with simple plant-based substitutes.

For the fastest option, pick your preferred dairy-free packaged frosting from the store. Then check out our great tips for How to Make Canned Chocolate Frosting Taste Homemade!

How Long Does Chocolate Cake Last?

Homemade chocolate cake will keep well for up to 4 days at room temperature. To keep as fresh as possible, store in an airtight container, wrap with plastic wrap, or cover with aluminum foil.

How Long Does Chocolate Cake Last In The Fridge?

Store in a container with lid, wrap in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and the old fashioned chocolate cake will keep well for up to 7 days in the refrigerator. For great results, let it sit at room temperature for several minutes before enjoying the delicious cake to soften the frosting a bit.


This delicious recipe will get rave reviews! It’s a great recipe if you’re looking for a chocolate cake without milk. All you need for major chocolate flavor in this easy recipe is good quality cocoa powder and a little boiling water.

More Delicious Chocolate Desserts

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Old Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake Recipe Without Milk With Homemade Cocoa Frosting
Yield: 12 servings

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

This Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake recipe makes an irresistibly thick and fudgy 3-layer cake with rich cocoa buttercream frosting. It's decadent, delicious, and everything you crave in chocolate cake!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 22 minutes
Cooling Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 2 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 c. unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2½ c. granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 t. real vanilla extract
  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • ½ t. salt
  • 1 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2¼ c. boiling water

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 3 8” round cake pans, then line bottom with round parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add in the eggs and vanilla and mix until well blended.
  3. In a separate large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Mix the cocoa powder and boiling water in a medium bowl until well combined and no lumps remain.
  5. Alternating between the two, slowly add dry ingredients and chocolate mixture to the bowl with the butter and sugar. Mix on low speed to incorporate ingredients.
  6. Divide the cake batter evenly between the three cake pans and place in the pre-heated oven. Bake 22-28 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  7. Remove from oven and set aside to cool for approximately 10 minutes before transferring the cakes from the pans to a wire rack to cool completely, approximately 10-15 more minutes. (Cakes should no longer be warm to the touch before frosting).
  8. To assemble the cake, place the first layer top-side down on a cake plate. Add 1/3 of the frosting to the top of the cake layer and spread it out evenly. Take the second layer and level off the rounded top with a knife or cake leveler. Place the second layer on top of the first layer, top-side down. Add frosting to this layer and spread out evenly. Repeat this with the 3rd layer, and spread the remaining frosting out on the top layer. Slice and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Notes

Time-Saving Tip: Make the cakes the night before servings and cover the baking pans with foil or plastic wrap once cool to the touch. Cakes will be ready to frost the next day.

Chocolate Buttercream Recipe

Ingredients: 

  • 1 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ c. cocoa powder
  • 16-oz. powdered sugar
  • 1-2 T. whole milk
  • 1 t. real vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Mix the butter and cocoa powder in a large bowl until well blended.
  2. Add the powdered sugar and mix on low-speed until all of the sugar is combined.
  3. Stir in milk and vanilla extract, if using, to reach desired consistency.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 465Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 103mgSodium: 376mgCarbohydrates: 70gFiber: 2gSugar: 42gProtein: 7g

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