Classic Chocolate Birthday Cake

Well, if you’re at all intimidated by baking —especially a cake— but want to try your hand, start here. It’s pretty much fool-proof and is a great basic to have in your recipe box. I made the frosting vanilla for contrast in color and flavor, but a chocolate frosting would be ah-mazing!! You could even use both the cake and the frosting recipes as a good base to jazz up and make whatever fun variations you want with them! Chocolate with peanut butter frosting and Reese’s pieces between layers? SURE. You get the idea.

To get even stacks (and thus a straight standing cake - unless of course the leaning tower of Pisa is your cake’s theme), make sure to use a serrated knife and saw off the rounded tops after the cakes have fully cooled. You’ll want to keep your discs as flat and parallel, top to bottom, as possible.

I alway put serrated side down. This allows you to use the frosting to fill, all while guaranteeing your top to be flat.

3 cups AP flour (I like King Arthur)
3 cups organic sugar
1.5 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Ghiradelli)
1 tablespoon baking soda
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1.25 teaspoons salt
1.5 cups buttermilk (I like using a local brand for a richer flavor)
1.5 cups warm water
1.5 cups vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 3 9" cake pans. Tap out the excess, set aside.
In a stand mixer, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. You may need to take a spoon to the bottom of the bowl to get everything mixed.
In a large (5 cups+) liquid measuring cup, measure buttermilk, water, and oil together. Crack eggs into the mixture and add the vanilla.
Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients, and mix on a medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is mixed well.
If you have a kitchen scale, measure the batter divided evenly into 3 pans. If you don't, it's about 2.5 cups of batter per pan. Slightly bang the pans against the counter if it looks like there are a ton of air bubbles.
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of each cake. Cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes and then pop the cakes out of each pan and continue to let cool about an hour or more on wire racks. Frost with frosting recipe below.

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