One Bowl Chocolate Cake with American Vanilla Buttercream

Quite possibly my most popular cake recipe, this chocolate cake is as simple as can be and very hard to screw up. I have a 4-cup measuring cup that works perfectly to hold all the liquids, so I don’t waste time or more dishes. It makes a great cake, moist and perfectly domed cupcakes and of course, the leftovers make amazing cake truffles.

After years of rejecting American buttercream for the more sophisticated Italian meringue version, I discovered Stella Park’s genius recipe and never looked back. The main difference between her recipe and traditional recipes is the sugar to butter ratio, but I also agree that the use of organic confectioners’ sugar makes a difference as well. The only change I made was reduce the salt to ¼ teaspoon to start. You can always add more if you want to at the end depending on your taste.

Make one 3-layer 6-inch cake or one 2-layer 8-inch cake


Chocolate Cake

  • 2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (396 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (112 grams) cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (240 grams) whole milk
  • 1 cup (236 grams) warm water
  • ½ cup (120 grams) vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs (100 grams)

Vanilla American Buttercream

  • 24 tablespoons (338 grams) unsalted buttercream, softened
  • 3 cups (345 grams) confectioners’ sugar, preferably organic
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons (85 grams) cold heavy cream


Make the Chocolate Cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Grease and flour the cake pans, line with parchment paper and set aside.
  1. In the bowl fitted for an electric mixer, add the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt and mix on low to combine.
  1. In a large measuring cup, add the balance of ingredients, whisk to combine and add to the flour mixture. Mix on medium-low speed until just combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  1. Evenly distribute the batter between the prepared cake pans and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Make the Buttercream:

  1. In a bowl fitted for an electric mixer, add the butter and sift the confectioners’ sugar on top. Using the paddle attachment, mix on low until combined.
  1. Add the vanilla extract and ¼ teaspoon salt, turn the speed up to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, 5 to 6 minutes.
  1. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, turn the mixer to low and slowly drizzle the heavy cream into the bowl. Once incorporated, turn to medium-high and whip until fluffy. Adjust salt level if desired. Use immediately.

Assemble the Cake:

  1. Level the cakes, fill and frost the outside, reserving some of the frosting to decorate if desired. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve, allowing for time to come back to room temperature. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


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AnnMarie Mattila
AnnMarie Mattilahttps://pastryathome.com
AnnMarie Mattila is a writer for Pastry Arts Magazine, as well as a freelance baker and pastry chef in New York. She has a master’s degree in Food Studies from New York University and is also a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education.

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