I used to keep this recipe secret when I had a baking business. Now, I just bake for family and friends upon request. My grandmother found this recipe in a church cookbook back in the 1930′s. She always made it for my mom’s family when growing up and they went crazy for it.

I’ve since inherited the recipe and modernized it (it originally called for sour milk, not buttermilk), adding more chocolate to the recipe. It’s a heavy batter and doesn’t usually dome in the middle. Sometimes, I don’t even have to level it before decorating. It’s a very rich, moist, dark chocolate cake.

Enjoy! I know I have. Any questions on it, please let me know!


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 3 eggs

  • 1 1/2 cup buttermilk

  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour (10 oz) (I usually use cake flour and substitute by weight…same weight but comes out different volume

  • 3/4 cup cocoa (I use dutch)
  • 2 tsp soda
  • pinch salt (if you use salted butter, you don’t need salt)


  1. Cream the butter and sugar very well. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well between each. Batter should be fluffy at this point. Sift the dry ingredients and add alternately with the wet. Start and end with dry. Mix only until the batter becomes smooth. No need to mix beyond that. Over-mixing any cake after the flour/water has been added will make a tough cake.

Bake two 8″ rounds in a 350′ oven for 25-30 min. (an example. You can use any size/shape pan, but it will bake for different times/temps depending)


Sallygirl78 Says... 2010-09-18 13:28:31

Hi LaSombra, I'm still learning the whole "make my own cake" thing.( I can decorate but can't bake. It's tragic. I usually have to ask my poor cousin to bake the cakes for me) So I was wondring if you could explain the 2 tsp soda. Is that baking soda? I'm so embarresed, you probably think I'm an airhead right now. But I just don't know if theres some other kind of "soda" bakers use. Oh and by way, thanks so much for sharing your grandma's recipe. Can't wait to try it out!!

tlreetz Says... 2010-09-19 11:01:09

I'm not the creator of this post but, Yes...soda is baking soda. Don't be emabarressed...that is the only way we learn is by asking questions. We are all new to something! :-) Welcome to the baking world! It's addictive!!

Sallygirl78 Says... 2010-09-20 05:55:57

tlreetz: Awww...thank you for responding to my question. Your comments are so inspiring. I really appreciate you saying that we are all new to something. That sentence will stick with me for a long long time. You're exactly right. I will tell my children that when they need a little boost the same way I did. I haven't tried the recipe yet, but I definately will. Thank you so so so much for clearing things up for me. Oh and by the way, you were spot on when you said caking is addicting. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the whole process. From designing, to decorating and delivering. Hopefully baking will also be in there sometime soon. Thanks again!!!

sharridee Says... 2010-09-21 05:53:47

I would still use sour milk sence thats what i can make at home, without buying buttermilk. (sour milk is just milk with a splash of vinegar) its awesome and I use it in my cookies alot.

sugarandstuff Says... 2010-09-21 18:47:36

I use sour milk as well - my mom gave me a lot of my grandmother's recipes that call for it, and I do it the same way Sharridee does. Can't wait to try this cake - thanks so much for sharing...the old ones are usually the best ones!

sweetcakes2406 Says... 2010-09-22 14:11:23

sounds like this is a great reicpie... cant wait to try it! anyone have a great white cake recipie? I too am new to the cake world and have had many requests for white cakes... the recipie i tried was not moist at all :( any suggestions? pm me at Dianeherring2406@yahoo.com thanks!

NamsKohli Says... 2010-09-22 15:21:56

How much vinegar would u add to a cup of milk to make it sour?

Cristi-Tutty Says... 2010-09-22 17:41:11

Firstable thank you so much for sharing your secret recipe. I use all the time the all purpose flour...could I substitud\te in this recipe too? and how much will it be or what I have to do to be the same as the cake flour?

thank you!!

wvfunchick Says... 2010-09-23 03:51:01

Can someone tell me if you use reg butter or unsalted butter?

Motta Says... 2010-09-23 07:51:59

I'm not the OP but when I don't have buttermilk, I make sour milk by adding 1 Tablespoon of vinegar to one cup of milk. Let it sit for 20 minutes to really react properly.

shellybell Says... 2010-09-23 08:52:44

Would you happen to have an icing that would make a great companion to this cake?

twoodruff Says... 2010-09-23 13:55:20

I would like to know if you can use all purpose flour and if that is unsalted or salted butter also.

lab2965 Says... 2010-09-24 16:55:40

I was wondering if I could use hi-ratio shortening instead of butter. Also, what kind of vinegar do you use to make the sour milK.

Thanks for sharing this recipe!

LaSombra Says... 2010-09-27 11:03:29

Sorry so late in replying. I just discovered that the recipe is finally posted :) My grandma used sour milk that just got sour in the fridge. If the milk got sour, she made a cake! I wonder if my aunts and uncles figured that out and stopped drinking milk so it'd sour? :P Thanks to those who've said how to make sour milk with vinegar (lab2965: I think just white vinegar). :)

yes, soda=baking soda... and don't feel bad for asking. It's my laziness with typing, I suppose, that I didn't write it out.

I use salted butter in this recipe. If you use shortening or unsalted butter, go ahead and put a pinch of salt in with the dry ingredients.

all-purpose flour is good. It makes the cake a little heavier than cake flour, which can be a good thing with chocolate cake.

LaSombra Says... 2010-09-27 11:06:06

someone asked for a frosting recommendation. I'll tell you what I like to use with all my cakes. This is a lighter frosting, which is good with the richer cake. You can also add some cocoa powder to it to make into chocolate frosting, if you want... if you want "death by chocolate," you could even pour some ganache over top. yum! anyway, here's the link:


teezed Says... 2010-10-14 11:09:20

Thanks a lot LaSombra, I tried this recipe and I have to say I did not regret it, It was just the right colour and texture, had a wonderfully rich flavor and was absolutely yummy, SPOT ON!!! Everyone ate this cake and asked for more, including those who claimed not to like chocolate at all. I'm sorry if it seems like I'm being greedy but I would like to know if you have any tested and trusted yellow cake recipes, I would love to try them out, THANKS THANKS THANKS.

teezed Says... 2010-10-14 11:29:26

Oh and I actually tried it with the whipped frosting recipe in the link you posted above, just perfect. Thanks again.

LaSombra Says... 2010-10-20 21:07:09

thanks, teezed :) no problem... This is the yellow cake recipe that I use: cakecentral.com/recipes/4983/buttermilk-yellow-cake#comments

rowantree Says... 2010-10-23 13:27:30

Whipped Ganache makes a great frosting for a rich cholcoate cake like this one--or any cake you want real chocolate-y flavor in the frosting--just make ganache with 2 c heavy cream brought just to a boil, and stir in 2 c your favorite chocolate chopped in small bits (I often just use semi-sweet chocolate chips). I put this all in my kitchenaid mixer and start mixing, when the ganache is smooth and all the bits melted, just start beating it until it gets light and fluffy. It can take ten minutes or more. It will cool as you beat air into it. When Ll fluffy, simply fill and frost your cooled layers, Delicious, like a truffle frosting!

One Tablespoon of instant coffee in the heating cream will add a mocha flavor.

LaSombra Says... 2010-10-23 14:06:02

rowantree, yes! Whipped ganache is like heaven if you love chocolate... Now, what you could do is torte the chocolate cake into 4 layers and fill with the whipped ganache. Then, frost the cake with the whipped ganache, then use melted ganache to pour over it... oh yum. Chocolate decadence!

Cakelove71 Says... 2010-10-24 17:52:16

I used this today to make my daughter's 13th birthday cake and it was PERFECT baked beautifully, frosted well and the taste was everything a chocolate cake needs to be.... YUMMY! Thank you for sharing it was a hit and I will use it from here on out for my chocolate cake requests

wwood Says... 2010-11-07 18:29:07

im new also, i was wondering, what is cake flour? would it b all purpose flour?

Remedy Says... 2010-12-15 16:12:24

Loved this, thanks! <3 and if anyone is wondering, for mini cupcakes, the bake time is 18-20 min at 350.

mugsmalone Says... 2011-02-14 12:25:12

This recipe is absolutely wonderful!! It has so much flavor and it reminds me of chocolate brownies just in cake form. Thanks for sharing!

Emmatakesthecake Says... 2011-03-17 11:20:21

I just made them, but haven't got a chance to put them in the oven. My sister (Who I'm making them for) Came in and tried the batter and said it was the best she ever had! I'll comment after i get to try a baked one, but it looks like this is going to be a hit!

LaSombra Says... 2011-04-13 14:19:43

cake flour is a lighter flour used for cakes and muffins. It will make a lighter cake. all-purpose flour will work, but you have to be more careful not to overmix the batter.

Melyssae Says... 2011-06-09 11:40:03

I LOVE this recipe!! I made it into cupcakes and took them to work. People raved about them. One of the guys ate about 8 cupcakes and was upset when they were gone :) This is definately a keeper!!!

Memac Says... 2011-07-08 09:15:16

I've used this recipe for four cakes now- it was a big hit overtime! My only go to chocolate cake, now!!! Thanks. PS- it was my first completely from scratch cake. Yeah! THANK YOU!

Mandyjb74 Says... 2011-07-09 08:59:08

Could i or has anyone tried icing this cake with fondant? will it hold up to the weight?

Laurabrat Says... 2011-07-28 09:28:01

Hi, this recipee doesn't mention any backing powder. Everytime i make this cake it is very heavy. What ratio of baking powder should i use for this cake to be lighter.

LaSombra Says... 2011-12-11 13:50:50

@Mandy: I use fondant on it. It holds up pretty well to just about anything. It's a sturdy cake...

@Laurabrat: It's meant to be a heavier cake... I'm not sure how much baking powder to add to make it lighter, but let me know if you figure something out. Some people might like a lighter cake...

Thanks to all who have raved about this recipe :) My grandma would be happy to hear if she were here :)

didiz_99 Says... 2012-03-15 03:32:01

this recipe is wonderful, made it for a kids birthday party and they just couldnt have enough of it. Thanks for sharing

LaSombra Says... 2012-07-05 22:36:37

thanks, didiz_99!! It's my favorite :)

Annygomez Says... 2012-08-14 21:14:54

I can't wait to try this!!! it sounds yummy the only question I have is cake flour is a box cake??? Sorry I don't understand :(

LaSombra Says... 2012-09-16 17:20:06

no, cake flour is only flour, just a lighter flour. You can use regular flour and it will turn out just fine, though.

Login To Leave A Comment