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Two-Layered Moist Chocolate Cake With Coffee

by Kylie

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This two-layered moist chocolate cake with coffee, topped with chocolate buttercream icing, may make you think it will taste like coffee, but I promise you, you can’t taste it at all.

So why add coffee if you can’t taste it, you ask?


Well, that’s a good question, and to simplify it for you, the coffee boosts the cocoa’s flavour, giving you a nice rich chocolate flavour to your cake.

But it is not over the top rich either.

Chocolate cake is one of my kid’s favourites, and this recipe takes the cake to a whole new level.

Alongside the coffee, the bonuses of buttermilk, sour cream and oil, creates a fluffy and moist cake when combined with the baking powder and bi-carb soda. 

What is the best coffee to use for chocolate cakes?

You can use regular instant coffee; you add a teaspoon into a cup of boiling water. Try to use a strong blend, though.

But to get the best flavour, espresso is highly recommended to use. However, you will need a coffee machine of some kind in your home for this.

How to make our two-layered moist chocolate cake with coffee and the chocolate buttercream icing

And what better thing to go with chocolate cake but chocolate buttercream icing. And yes, you can use vanilla buttercream icing also if you wish.


  • 2 x 20cm or 8inch round cake tins
  • Stand mixer or Handmixer
  • Baking Paper
  • Mixing Bowls

Cake Ingredients

  • Cocoa Powder
  • Espresso Coffee (premade)
  • Plain Flour
  • Baking Powder
  • Bi-Carb Soda
  • White Sugar
  • Salt
  • Eggs
  • Buttermilk
  • Sour Cream
  • Canola Oil
  • Vanilla Extract

Chocolate Buttercream Icing Ingredients

  • Unsalted Butter
  • Icing Sugar
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Milk
  • Vanilla Extract

Preheat your oven to 160C, 180C if it is not fan-forced.
Grease your cake tins, then line with baking paper.
Set up your coffee machine.

Cake Method
Sift cocoa powder into a small bowl, make the espresso coffee and add to the cocoa. Mix until well combined and smooth; it should resemble melted chocolate and set aside.

Sift flour, baking powder and bi-carb soda into a large mixing bowl, add the sugar and mix on a low speed to combine.


Add the buttermilk, oil, sour cream, and vanilla extract, then whisk on low speed until well combined.   

Then add the cocoa and espresso mixture and eggs, mix on low speed until just combined. Scrap down the sides of the bowl and the bottom, to bring up anything that may have been left at the bottom.

Whisk on medium high until combined.

Evenly pour your mixture into your two cake tins and bake for 40 minutes at 160C, depending on your oven.


Note: this is a very runny cake batter; you will get a small amount of leakage from the cake tins. You can place a baking tray at the bottom of the oven to catch any drips.

Check your cakes with a skewer; they are ready when the skewer comes out clean.

Let them cool in the tins for around 15 minutes, remove them from the cake tins.

Follow this step if using a loose base or springform cake tins.
Place a second cooling rack on top and flip the cakes over. Using a knife or metal spatula, gently slide it between the cake and the cake tin base to loosen and remove. 

Remove the baking paper if it is still on there and allow your cakes to continue to cool on a rack upside down until completely cooled down.


Chocolate Buttercream Icing Method
There is enough to do a layer between the two cakes, a crumb coat and a thin layer over the top for this chocolate buttercream recipe.

If you want this for a 3 or 4 layered cake, piping or cupcakes, I will be adding a recipe for this soon.

Add your softened butter and cream in a large mixing bowl using a hand mixer or stand mixer until the butter is lighter in colour.

Sift your icing sugar a bit at a time and mix at a low speed until incorporated. Using the low setting avoids the icing sugar from going everywhere. Repeat until all the icing sugar is well mixed in and it resembles crumbs.

Sift the cocoa powder and again on low mix well.

Slowly add the milk a tablespoon at a time, mixing on low and then the vanilla extract.

Mix well until smooth. You can add more milk (a little at a time) if the buttercream is not soft enough for you.


Preparing and icing the cakes
Level the tops of both cakes if needed.

Fill a piping bag or ziplock bag with the icing and cut the tip to make a hole big enough to pipe through.

Add a small amount of chocolate buttercream icing to your cake turner if you use one or a cake board. Doing this will help to keep the cake in place.

Add one of the levelled cakes on top of the buttercream base side down. Then pipe in a spiral of the buttercream on top, working from the middle outwards.

Smooth the buttercream until you can see no more lines or gaps.


Place the other cake on top but upside down so that the base of the cake is at the top. That will allow for a flatter and smoother top of the cake to work with.

Coat the entire cake with a thin layer of buttercream, smoothing it out as much as possible. Then refrigerate for at least 20 to 30 minutes to set the icing.

Tip: doing a crumb coat will help avoid crumbs of the cake being spread through the second layer of icing.


Once the crumb coat is set, it is time to do the top layer. Then, just like you did for in-between your cake layers, pipe a spiral of the buttercream over the top of your cake.  Then spread the rest of the icing around the sides.

Smooth it over with a cake smoother/scraper or spatula. I also find using a metal one and heating it under hot water helps create a smooth top.

Once that is done, you can decorate. I wanted to keep this one simple, so I added some silver and white lustre dust on the top with some mini m&m’s around the outside.

But you can add whatever you want.


How to bake two cakes at the same time

When baking two cakes simultaneously, you can bake them both on the middle rack if your oven is big enough. Don’t have the cake tins touching each other as you need the airflow in-between.

But if you have a smaller oven, it is best to have each cake on a separate rack, allowing for better airflow. You can even do this if you have a larger oven if preferred.

The first cake needs to be on the middle rack, but slightly off centre. The second cake needs to be on the bottom shelf, slightly off centre, but opposite to the top cake.

How to level your cake for layering

Unless you are using some cake strips to get an even bake, you might find you need to level the top of your cake to be flat. You can do this by using a shape serrated edge knife or a cake leveller if you have one.

A cake leveller will also come in handy for cutting your cake in half. But if you do not have one. You can use a ruler and some toothpicks to mark the centre of the cake and use a serrated knife to cut your cake in half.

How to make buttermilk at home

You can buy buttermilk, but sometimes it is easier to make it at home, especially if you don’t have time to go down to the local supermarket.

So long as you have milk, white vinegar or fresh lemons, it is straightforward.

Put one cup of milk into a bowl, add two tablespoons of white vinegar or fresh lemon juice. Stir and let sit for 30 minutes.

The vinegar or lemon juice will curdle the milk a bit, creating buttermilk.

You can make this ahead of time as well, as it will keep in your refrigerator for up to 3 days so long as it’s in an airtight container or jar.

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Two-Layered Moist Chocolate Cake With Coffee

This two-layered moist chocolate cake with coffee, topped with chocolate buttercream icing, may make you think it will taste like coffee, but I promise you, you can't taste it at all.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Course Dessert, Entertaining, Snack, Special Occasions
Cuisine American
Servings 14 Slices
Calories 568 kcal


Cake Ingredients

  • ¾ cups Cocoa Powder
  • 1 cup Espresso Coffee (premade)
  • cups Plain Flour
  • tsp Baking Powder
  • tsp Bi-Carb Soda
  • 2 cups White Sugar
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 large Eggs (room temp)
  • 1 cup Buttermilk
  • ½ cup Sour Cream
  • ½ cup Canola Oil
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Chocolate Buttercream Icing Ingredients

  • 250 g Unsalted Butter
  • cups Icing Sugar
  • ½ cup Cocoa Powder
  • 3 tbsp Milk
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract


Cake Method

  • Line two 20cm round cake tins with baking paper.
  • Preheat your fan-forced oven to 160°C
  • Make one cup of espresso, sift the cocoa into a small bowl. Slowly pour the coffee into the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Refer to Note 1 for Espresso alternatives.
  • Sift flour, baking powder and bi-carb soda into a large mixing bowl, add the sugar and mix at a low speed to combine.
  • Add the buttermilk, oil, sour cream, and vanilla extract, then whisk on low speed until well combined. 
  • Add eggs and cocoa mixture, mix on low speed until just combined. Scrap the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula and then whisk on medium-high until all combined.
  • Add cake mixture into the two cake tins as evenly as possible and place in the oven. Both on the middle rack not touching. Refer to Note 2 for tin positions for a small oven. Place a baking tray at the bottom of your oven to catch any drips.
  • Bake for 40 minutes or until the skewers come out clean.
  • Cool on a cooling rack in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the cake tins, and place the cakes top side down. Allow cakes to cool completely.

Chocolate Buttercream Icing Method

  • Cream the soft butter with a hand mixer or stand mixer until the butter is pale in colour.
  • Add sifted icing sugar a little at a time and mix on low speed to incorporate after each addition.
  • Add sifted cocoa powder and mix on low until combined.
  • Add milk and vanilla extract, mix until well combined. Add a little more milk if your want a softer buttercream mixture.

Preparing and icing the cakes

  • Level the tops of your cakes if needed. Pipe the buttercream icing on the top of one cake and smooth out. Then place the second cake on top of the buttercream upside down.
  • Spread a thin layer of buttercream around the sides and the top of the cake, then place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to set.
  • Pipe a second layer of buttercream on the top and spread the rest around the sides. Using a spatula or cake scraper, smooth the buttercream all over.
  • Decorate as desired.


Note 1: if you are unable to use a cup of premade espresso, add 1 teaspoon of instant coffee into 1 cup of boiling water.  Or use 1 cup of percolated coffee.
Note 2: for smaller ovens place one tin on the middle shelf and one on the bottom shelf, but off centred to each other.  If the bottom cake is not ready when the top one is, place the bottom cake on the middle shelf for about 5 or 10 minutes.


Serving: 1SliceCalories: 568kcal (28%)Carbohydrates: 81g (27%)Protein: 5g (10%)Fat: 27g (42%)Saturated Fat: 12g (75%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 72mg (24%)Sodium: 379mg (16%)Potassium: 222mg (6%)Fiber: 3g (13%)Sugar: 63g (70%)Vitamin A: 576IU (12%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 83mg (8%)Iron: 2mg (11%)
Keyword Buttercream Frosting, Buttercream Icing, Cake, Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Icing, Moist, Two-Layer Cake
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