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Ina Garten adds buttermilk to her double-layer cake to keep it moist and light. A bit of coffee in the cake and frosting keeps the sweetness in check.


1 (8-inch) layer cake

“This is the most fabulous chocolate cake that I’ve ever made,” Ina Garten declared when F&W ran her recipe in 2007. The cake gets its intense chocolate flavor from cocoa powder bolstered with a small amount of coffee, while the luxurious icing is rich with butter and melted semisweet chocolate. Though you’ll want to store your double-layer cake in the fridge, it’s best eaten at room temperature, so be sure to take it out in advance of serving.



  • Butter, for greasing the pan

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

  • 2 cups sugar

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 cup buttermilk

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee


  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 1 large egg yolk

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon powdered sugar, sifted

  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules

  • 2 teaspoons hot water


Make the cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter two 8- x 2-inch round cake pans and line them with parchment; butter the paper. Dust the pans with flour, tapping out any excess.

  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour with the sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt at low speed. In a bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the oil, eggs, and vanilla. Slowly beat the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients until just incorporated, then slowly beat in the hot coffee until fully incorporated.

  3. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then invert the cakes onto a rack to cool. Peel off the parchment.

Make the frosting

  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the chocolate at high power in 30-second intervals, stirring, until most of the chocolate is melted. Stir until completely melted, then set aside to cool.

  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat for 1 minute, scraping down the side of the bowl. At low speed, slowly beat in the powdered sugar, about 1 minute. In a small bowl, dissolve the instant coffee in 2 teaspoons hot water. Slowly beat the coffee and the cooled chocolate into the butter mixture until just combined.

  3. Set a cake layer on a plate with the flat side facing up. Evenly spread one-third of the frosting over the cake to the edge. Top with the second cake layer, rounded side up. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and side of the cake. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before slicing.

Quentin Bacon

Make ahead

The frosted cake can be refrigerated for 2 days. Let stand for 1 hour before serving.

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