Two-Layer Chocolate Birthday Cake

This recipe was created by America’s Test Kitchen Kids. Add your favorite frosting and decorations to this classic chocolate layer cake. We highly recommend using Dutch-processed cocoa powder in this recipe. If you use natural cocoa powder, the cake will be drier in texture and lighter in color.

Serves: 16Difficulty: Medium

Serves: 16


  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 1 1⁄2 cups (7½ ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1⁄2 cups (10½ ounces) sugar
  • 1 cup (3 ounces) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1⁄2 cups milk
  • 3⁄4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Vanilla frosting


  • Gather the following equipment: 2 (9-inch) round metal cake pans, 2 (9-inch) round pieces of parchment paper, 2 bowls (1 large, 1 medium), a whisk, rubber spatula, toothpicks, oven mitts, cooling rack, butter knife, and chef's knife.
  • Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Spray inside bottom and sides of each 9-inch round cake pan with vegetable oil spray. Line each cake pan with 9-inch round piece of parchment paper.
  • In medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In large bowl, whisk together milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.
  • Add flour mixture to liquid mixture and use rubber spatula to stir until just combined and no dry flour is visible. Do not overmix.
  • Use rubber spatula to divide batter evenly between parchment-lined cake pans and smooth tops. (Spread batter out to edges of each pan to create even layer.) Place cake pans in oven. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of each cake comes out clean, 34 to 36 minutes.
  • Use oven mitts to remove cake pans from oven (ask an adult for help). Place cake pans on cooling rack and let cakes cool completely in pans, about 1 hour.
  • Run butter knife around edge of each cake to loosen cake from pan. Working with one cake at a time, place cooling rack on top of cake pan. Hold bottom of cake pan with 1 hand and place other hand on top of cooling rack. Turn over pan so cake falls onto rack. Remove cake pan. Carefully peel parchment paper away from cake and discard. Place cutting board or serving platter on top of cake and flip cake right side up onto cutting board or serving platter. Remove cooling rack. Repeat with remaining cake. Assemble and frost cake. Cut cake into wedges and serve.