Bake or Break

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake is an all-out chocolate experience! So rich and decadent!

overhead view of Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake in the pan and a slice on a beige plate

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake

This Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake is ALL about the chocolate. Both the cake and the icing are wonderfully rich and delicious, so it’s sure to satisfy even your biggest chocolate craving.

It’s also such a wonderfully easy made-from-scratch cake. It mixes very easily by hand, so you can leave your stand mixer unplugged for this one and just enjoy the simplicity of mixing with a big spoon.

slice of Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake on a beige plate

I first discovered this cake many years ago in my early baking days, and I never thought to question the title of it. I don’t know what makes it “old-fashioned,” but I continue to call it that because that’s how I first knew it. If you’ve ever baked a Texas Sheet Cake, then I think you’ll find that this recipe is similar but made in a 9×13 pan versus a half sheet pan.

One of my favorite things about the cake itself is the addition of cinnamon to the cake batter. It adds a little extra flavor that really differentiates this cake from most chocolate cakes. The buttermilk also adds a tanginess to both the cake and the icing.

Tips for Success

  • Measure accurately. Using a kitchen scale will give you the most accurate measurements. Otherwise, spoon and sweep!
  • Use a light-colored, non-reflective metal pan. Dark pans tend to over-bake the outside, potentially leaving the inner parts under-baked. Glass pans conduct heat differently than metal pans, so they will not bake the cake in the same way.
  • Use a large saucepan. Make sure your saucepan has plenty of room to allow mixing the cake mixture and the icing. Remember the icing will get a bit bubbly before it’s done. A large saucepan usually has about a 4-quart capacity. A medium (2-quart) saucepan may work, but it will definitely be a bit crowded.
  • Measure ingredients before beginning. As you’ll be adding a lot of the ingredients while actively cooking on the stovetop, you’ll want to work quickly. Having your ingredients measured and ready will make things go smoother and more quickly.
  • Sift the cocoa powder. Sifting will result in a smoother icing.
  • Don’t have buttermilk? Try one of the substitutes: Buttermilk Substitutes in Baking.
  • Allow the icing to set. The icing will be pourable when it’s cooked, but it will set as it cools. Be sure to allow it to cool and set completely for less mess when serving.

slice of Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake with a bite missing

Every time I’ve made this cake, it’s gotten rave reviews. Combine that with how easy it is to make, and this one has a permanent spot in my recipe box.

Find more cake recipes in the Recipe Index.

More Chocolate Cake Recipes

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

Yield 12-16 servings
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes

Chocolate lovers will adore this rich, delicious Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake!

slice of Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake on a beige plate


For the cake:

  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (236ml) water
  • 1/4 cup (21g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup (118ml) buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the icing:

  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup (21g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup (78ml) buttermilk
  • 4 cups (440g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (120g) chopped pecans
  • pinch of salt


To make the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9"x 13"x 2" baking pan.
  2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Mix in the water and cocoa powder. Remove from heat. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, dissolve the baking soda in the buttermilk. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Add the cooled cocoa mixture and mix well.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Make a well in the center and add the cocoa mixture, stirring just until combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 30 minutes, or until a pick inserted into the center comes out clean.

To make the icing:

  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter with the cocoa powder. Stir in the buttermilk, and continue cooking until the mixture is almost boiling. Stir in the sugar, vanilla, pecans, and salt, mixing thoroughly.
  2. Remove from heat. Pour the icing immediately over the warm cake. Allow the frosting to set before serving.


This is quite a rich cake, so a little goes a long way if you want to stretch the servings beyond what's listed in the recipe.

Recipe adapted from AllRecipes.

Recommended Products

Bake or Break is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake

Share this:

    One Comment on “Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake”

  1. So simple and so absolutely wonderful. It is nostalgic! Definitely a new comfort food for me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *