4-Layer Chocolate Cake

This easy chocolate layer cake starts with a one-bowl cake recipe that’s super moist and tasty. Add a creamy vanilla frosting and a few colorful decorations and you’ve got an irresistible celebration cake.


For the Cake:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup hot coffee or hot water (see Ingredient Notes)

For the Frosting:

  • 3 cups (6 sticks) salted butter, softened
  • 8 to 9 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Healthy pinch of salt, or to taste
  • Rainbow sprinkles, circus animal cookies or other decorations


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans and set aside.

For the Cake:

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until well combined. Add oil, sugar, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla and beat at medium speed until batter is smooth. Add hot coffee or hot water, depending on preference (see Ingredient Note) and beat for an additional minute. The batter will be thin. Divide evenly between prepared pans. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. The cake is done when center springs back to touch and toothpick inserted in the center come out clean. Allow layers to cool for 5 to 10 minutes in pans then turn out to rack to cool completely before frosting.

For the Frosting:

Beat together butter and 8 cups of powdered sugar in a large bowl until creamy. Add remaining powdered sugar to taste and mix well. Add vanilla then milk a bit at a time and beat until you reach smooth spreading consistency.

For the Assembly and Decoration:

To split the cake layers, create a cutting guide by partially inserting toothpicks every few inches into the side of each layer at the midpoint. Using a long serrated knife, start cutting at toothpick level using a gentle sawing motion and cut toward the center a bit at a time until all the way through, rotating the cake as you go.

Place the bottom of one cake layer on the cake board or serving plate. Place a generous amount of frosting at the center and spread gently around with an offset spatula as you work towards the edges. If desired, top filling with rainbow sprinkles. Top with corresponding cake layer half and repeat filling and sprinkles, if using. For the third layer, use top of the remaining layer top-side down and repeat filling process. Add the remaining layer to top placing the bottom side facing up to create a flat surface for decorating.

Crumb coat the cake by applying a thin layer of frosting to top and sides that will keep crumbs from getting caught in the final frosting. Place cake in the fridge for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the crumb coat has set.

Cover cake with remaining frosting, starting with a generous amount on top and working towards edges. Apply frosting to sides and use the spatula to create a clean edge. Clean frosting off spatula with each pass to help create a smooth finish. A warm spatula will also help keep the frosting smooth. Decorate with sprinkles, cookies, or the decorations of your choice.

Ingredient Notes:

Hot coffee or water: While many say you will not taste the coffee flavor, I can taste it even though mild. Although it gives the chocolate an additional intensity, it may add some bitterness, especially if you do not care for coffee. Feel free to use half water and half coffee for a mellow boost or use only hot water if you have a distaste for coffee.

Tip: Use a scale to divide cake batter equally between pans to produce even layers.

Food Riddles Challenge
How to Brine a Turkey
Ingenious Kool Aid Hacks
No Fridge Necessities
Things You Should Never Put In The Microwave
Women stylish haircut
Scroll to Top