Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines? This is the dilemma I faced standing in the baking aisle at the grocery store. My mom made store box cakes all the time. They are pretty much full proof for the novice cook. I've baked both. Neither is particularly spectacular, but there is an advantage to having a quick box cake handy in the cupboard. Although, honestly they taste sugary, a little airy, and a bit chemically. Also, the texture is so light it almost seems like there is nothing there.

I really want a rich cake with some substance to it. So after a few trial and errors I've come up with this recipe that seems to be pretty full proof and consistent. I hope you enjoy. (If you are looking for a comparison of store bought versus home made there is a good summary at the Ktchn called: Make Or Bake? Cake Mixes vs. Homemade.)

Pre Preparation
350 Degrees F
Butter and flour two 8 inch round baking pans.

  • 2 cups and 1 tablepoon all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar (I prefer dark.)
  • 1 1/2 cup 1% milk
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • butter to grease pans
  • flour to dust pans

  1. Sift first 5 ingredients onto a piece of parchment paper or a large bowel with a pouring lip. 
  2. Cream the remaining ingredients in a bowl.
  3. With the beaters on low add the sifted ingredients to the wet mixture that has been creamed. Incorporate fully.
  4. Turn the beaters onto medium and beat for 3 minutes.
  5. Pour and divide the batter equally into the two round pans.
  6. Bake at 350 degress F on middle rack for about 30-37 minutes. The middle of the cake should spring back when touched and a toothpick test should be clean.
  7. Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes on wire rack.
  8. Loosen the cake from around the edge of the pans. I use a small plastic spatula that I got with my small food processor.
  9. Invert each cake onto a plate and then revert onto a wire rack to continue cooling.
  10. Cool fully before layering and frosting. Shave off the tops with a fine serrated knife if necessary
  11. I like to use my chocolate butter cream frosting for this cake, but I'm sure other frosting would work just as well.

It's cake. Really, you have to ask? Well, o.k. Typically chocolate cake is about 150 calories per ounce of serving which includes the frosting. A slice could easily be 500-600 calories. So watch it!

Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting Recipe Link.

I prefer to use my stand mixer for this recipe, but you can use a hand mixer just as easily.

One nice thing about this cake is that the top doesn't rise too rounded, so that if you layer it you rarely have to cut off any of the top of the cake.

There are a couple of tricks to frosting a layered cake. First, put a bit of frosting down on your plate to help stabilize the first layer of cake. Secondly, you should do a light round of frosting around the cake first. This is usually called the crumb frosting. Then do the next layer of frosting after it has set up a bit.

If you are in a hurry, you can just dump all of the ingredients into a bowl and mix for 3 minutes.

Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting

  • 1 cup plus 1/2 stick butter (2 1/2 sticks total)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 4 tablespoons half and half

  1. Cream the butter in your mixer on medium for 2 minutes. 
  2. While the butter is creaming, sift the dry ingredients onto parchment paper or into a bowl with a spout.
  3. With the mixer on the lowest speed add the sifted ingredients until fully incorporated.
  4. Add the vanilla and half and half. Increase the mixer speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes.
  5. Adjust consistency by adding either a bit more sugar for stiffness or half and half for dilution.

You should have a bit of frosting left over.
Save the Date


02/26/2015 4:16am

Education helps in communicating with others. If a person would be educated he would be able to communicate with others through different ways. He would be able to convey his message to other person through his writing in form of email, letter, and story or through writing article.

08/01/2016 11:22am

Dad knows how to bake a really good cake)


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