MAKE TWO 9-INCH CAKES OR 24 CUPCAKES
Another of our most popular base cakes. As with all chocolate recipes, be sure to use high-quality cocoa.
1½ cups cake flour, plus more for flouring cake pans
1½ cups sugar, plus more for unmolding the cakes
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
⅓ cup unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
⅓ cup melted unsweetened chocolate
½ cup hot water
2 extra-large eggs
½ cup buttermilk
Unsalted butter (about 2 tablespoons), nonstick spray, or vegetable oil, for greasing cake pans
1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F.
2. Place the flour, sugar, butter, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use a hand mixer, but be very careful not to overmix.) Mix on low speed until the ingredients are blended together, a few seconds, then increase speed to low-medium and continue blending until smooth, about 1 more minute.
3. Stop the motor and pour in the chocolate. Mix for 1 minute on low speed. Engine running, pour hot water. Add the eggs, one egg at a time, adding the next one after the previous one has been absorbed. With the motor still running, pour in the buttermilk. Stop the motor periodically and scrape the bottom with a rubber spatula to make sure all the ingredients are fully incorporated, then return the mixer to low-medium speed.
Continue mixing for 1 additional minute to ensure the eggs are fully absorbed. This will also help ensure that all the sugar dissolves and the flour is well mixed, which will help produce a luxurious mouthfeel in the final cake. Before baking, make sure the batter is between 70° and 73°F or the cake will crown. (If it’s too hot, put it in the fridge for a few minutes; if it’s too cold, let it come to room temperature.)
4. Grease two 9-inch cake pans (2 inches deep) and flour them.
5. Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans, using a rubber spatula to scrape down the bowl to get as much batter as possible.
6. Bake until the cakes begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and are springy to the touch, 25 to 30 minutes.
7. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes, preferably 1 hour. Cakes should be at room temperature before removing from pan. Place a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with sugar and invert cakes onto parchment paper; the sugar will keep them from sticking.
Refrigerate or freeze until ready to decorate.