Bake or Break

Cocoa Cake

slice of Cocoa cake on a white plate

I try to keep things simple in my kitchen and on this blog. You won’t find a lot of complicated, time-consuming recipes here. Sure, I get overly ambitious from time to time, but I generally like to keep things a bit more approachable and attainable.

I actually resisted making this cake for a while. It seemed almost too simple. I mean, it’s a no-frills chocolate cake. I’m as much of a fan of chocolate as anyone, but most of the time I prefer it with just a little extra interest.

Cocoa Cake

Then, today I decided I would finally make this cake. It is not “just” chocolate. The simplicity of it is also the beauty of it. It’s much like what cake mixes wish they could produce.

Cocoa Cake

Every dessert has its place. This is not necessarily a cake to make if you want to wow a crowd. But, it’s a great cake to whip up when you want to revel in a bit of pure chocolate goodness.

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More Chocolate Cake Recipes

Cocoa Cake

Yield 8 to 10 servings
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes

This easy to make Cocoa Cake is all about the chocolate!

slice of Cocoa cake on a white plate


  • 2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (64g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 & 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 & 3/4 cups (350g) packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 & 1/3 cups water
  • confectioners' sugar, for dusting


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch round (2 inches deep) cake pan. Dust with flour and knock out the excess.
  2. Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla.
  4. Add the flour mixture to butter mixture in batches, alternating with water. Begin and end with flour. Mix just until combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 55-60 minutes, until the cake is springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool in the pan for an hour. Then invert onto a wire rack, then onto serving plate. Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.


Recipe slightly adapted from Gourmet.

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Cocoa Cake

Cocoa Cake

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    27 Comments on “Cocoa Cake”

  1. Yummm sometimes the simplest things are the best, this looks awesome!

  2. I’ve been looking for a simple chocolate cake to break in a couple of new pans. I think this is the one! Thanks…

  3. This sounds lovely! I adore simple cakes like this. Perfect!

  4. Sounds great! I am craving chocolate and was going back-and-forth between making a Texas sheet cake and a pudding cake, but now this sounds even better.

  5. Perfect for those nights when my husband jokes, “And where’s my chocolate cake?” What an awesome surprise this would be.

  6. the best things are simple.This cake looks like those heavenly group of cakes I eat.

  7. a plain cocoa cake sometimes is better than over decorated and full of different ingredients cake, simple is better and the cake looks simple and delicious

  8. This maybe simple but it’s absolutely killer !!

  9. Love this recipe and the pictures. The cake looks amazing, and I like that it´s not complicated to make. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Simple and chocolate can’t get much better than that.

  11. Amazing cake. I love chocolate so much.

  12. This looks so good. I was going through the recipe but can’t seem to figure out where the water comes into it. Am I missing something?

  13. Let me preface with the fact that this is my favorite site!! LOVE IT! I am a baker and enjoy every photo you put on! Have had a slew of friends sign up for it! Now, made this today. Although I love most of the goodies on this website, this was just too bland. I ended up putting chocolate frosting on top just to give it some “oomph”!! Nowhere near chocolatey enough for me! Also, I would love it if people would post comments on this site that are constructive to the actual item. 95% of the comments are how good it looks or how hungry the picture makes them! Why don’t we put things that matter- like, “too sweet”,or “delicious?”!! I wish people would comment AFTER they baked the item! Just Sayin’!!

    • Lisa- My thoughts EXACTLY! We all know the pics are gorgeous, but the reason I scan all the reviews, is to find someone who ACTUALLY MADE the cake, not just loved the pics, or how they are going to make it, or how they are drooling over it! I too am a chocoholic and need cakes that are full of flavor! Maybe some coffee instead of water would be a nice boost of flavor, but thank you for your input! You’re the only one who MADE it, and I was wondering how the taste is.! So Thanks again! ( I too am a Lisa!)

  14. Awesome recipe. Simplicity rocks as always.

  15. I am a house husband.
    Tried this cake today.
    350 º what ??
    I tried 350 cº & then came to know that it is 350º F =180º C.
    Feeling Low !!

  16. Looks like a yummy but quick to make chocolate cake recipe. I love recipes that use ingredients I am likely to have in the cupboard. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  17. It was so easy. I had to replace with Gluten free flour and the butter with oil. But everytime I bake these kind of cakes, it always breaks on the top. Its not smooth on the top. What should I be doing that this doesnt happen. This is not the first time

    • Cakes most often crack on top because the oven temperature is too high. I’d recommend getting an oven thermometer to check the accuracy of your oven’s temperature. Also, opening the oven door frequently while the cake is baking can cause cracking. I don’t bake with gluten-free flour, so I can’t say if that could be causing any issues.

  18. Lovely recipe. Although the water content in the cake evaporates, leaving the cake to be dry n muddy. The second time i baked, i replaced the butter with oil n also substituted buttermilk.

  19. This recipe was perfect for my grandson and to baked. We used a cup of water only and it came spongy. We loved it.

  20. Made this with my 4 year old, simple but very tasty!
    Thanks for the recipe

  21. I don’t know why I torture myself! I live at 7,200’ elevation so cakes are out of the question😥

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