Triple Layer Chocolate Cake With White Frosting

This chocolate cake with white frosting is a family recipe on my husband’s side and I have been making it for birthdays ever since my husband and I have been together and he informed me that I needed to call his mother, get the recipe, and make this particular cake for his birthday.

It is not a difficult cake to make but I have referred to it with not so nice names over the years as I struggled to have it turn out properly as a new to making cakes from scratch baker to the I could possibly make this cake with my eyes closed point I have reached today.

Don’t be scared by the number of steps in the recipe.  Try it because I think you’ll think it is delicious!

Chocolate cake with white frosting

Let’s bake a cake:

Yes, this is the same recipe card I’ve used ever since I began making the cake.

Note this is in no way a low-fat, low-sugar recipe!  Begin by creaming 2 1/2 cups of sugar with 1 cup of shortening (I usually have to run to the store and buy a small tub of Crisco just so I can make this cake as I don’t really keep it on hand for any other recipes).

chocolate cake with white frosting

I love the Pampered Chef Measure-All Cup! By the way, it HAS survived the dishwasher many times around here.

After you’ve creamed the sugar and shortening together, add 2 eggs and 2 teaspoons of vanilla and cream it together a little more.

Chocolate cake with white frosting

I can’t remember where I read this tip but I add my vanilla to my eggs and then add them together.

Now, it is time to get out a kitchen tool that I use pretty much only for making this cake:  The sifter!  Most other recipes I just whisk the dry ingredients a bit in the mixing bowl but in this recipe, sifting matters.

Sift 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 and 1/2 cups of flour into a bowl and then sift 1/2 cup of cocoa into the same bowl but you’re not ready to stop sifting yet.   After this, sift the already sifted dry ingredients again into a second bowl.  My late mother-in-law used to do this on paper plates but I’ve never been a neat enough cook nor do I expect I ever will be a neat enough cook to manage that.

Chocolate cake with white frosting

This is after the first sifting of the flour, salt, and cocoa

After this, sift the already sifted dry ingredients again into a second bowl.

chocolate cake with white frosting

The texture of your sifted ingredients should look like this

Now it is time to start adding this to the creamed mixture.  However, you need to alternate adding the sifted dry ingredients with 1 cup of buttermilk.  I usually just make my own buttermilk by adding 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to a 1 cup measuring cup and then filling it with milk and letting it sit about 5 minutes.   You can also purchase it from the store if you are in a hurry (the smallest container is one cup).

I am not sure why but the recipe is very specific that you must start with the flour mixture as well as end with the flour mixture when adding them both to the creamed ingredients.  Mysterious cake-y science-y stuff I suppose.  Do any readers know the real reason?  Please share if you happen to know the answer.

chocolate cake with white frosting

At this point, the cake batter will be stiff almost like cookie dough

Time for more strange science in the baking of this cake!  See how thick the batter looks above?  We aren’t quite finished adding ingredients yet.  Now it is time to boil one cup of water (I use a Pyrex cup in the microwave) and add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to the boiling water.

chocolate cake with white frosting

The baking soda reacts with the boiling water.

Add the boiling water and baking soda mix to the cake batter slowly!

chocolate cake with white frosting

It will now look more like traditional cake batter

Now it is time to pour (or spoon) the cake batter into three 9 inch cake pans that you have greased and floured in advance along with preheating the oven to 350 degrees.  What?  You forgot to do that part?  I always seem to forget as well.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees while preparing your cake pans.  This cake tends to be a bit temperamental about wanting to partially stay in the pans so parchment paper is strongly advised!  

Bake the cakes for 30-35 minutes.  Allow them to cool approximately 10 minutes on a cooling rack before removing the layers from the pans.  Let the layers cool completely before frosting them.   The frosting for this cake is easy.  It is a Betty Crocker mix.  If you can’t find it, I would go with some sort of whipped frosting.

chocolate cake with white frosting

The easy part of making this cake!

Although this is a 3 layer cake, I have made it in a 9×13 pan also and it tastes just as good.  If you are worried about it coming out of your pans, it is an option.  I just happen to prefer the traditional 3 layer version.

chocolate cake with white frosting

3 Layer Birthday Cake

Of course the very best part of this cake is enjoying a piece of it with a scoop of ice cream!

Chocolate birthday cake with white frosting

Cake and ice cream!

Here is the printable recipe for the cake:   The Family Birthday Cake

Is there a traditional birthday cake in your family?  What is your favorite kind of cake?

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18 thoughts on “Triple Layer Chocolate Cake With White Frosting

  1. Kristy

    Thanks for this recipe! The fact that you progressed to being able to make it with ease gives me hope for myself. 🙂 I’ve never heard of the boiling-water-baking-soda cake step!
    Kristy recently posted..5K SaturdayMy Profile

    1. Jean Post author

      This is the only cake recipe I have ever seen with that step as well. It really is a good cake!

  2. Diane | An Extraordinary Day

    There really is a science to baking. I think it might be fun to take a class where all that is explained. I’d like to know when to use baking soda and baking powder for example. Your chocolate cake recipe is a bit different….but if it works…and it’s delicious….that’s all that matters. Thank you for sharing a treasured family favorite!!!
    Diane | An Extraordinary Day recently posted..7 Days of Thanksgiving ~ A Thankful HeartMy Profile

    1. Jean Post author

      I’d love a seat in that class as well. I do know that baking powder doesn’t work very well for a substitute for the baking soda in chocolate chip cookies but I’m not sure why. Maybe I’ll have to do some research on all this in my free time 😉

  3. Beverly

    Reading about recipes that use Crisco brings back memories. Our favorite cookbook when I was a teenager used crisco in every cookie recipe. I remember creaming crisco and butter and sugar. Whoo hoo.

    1. Jean Post author

      Oh, I bet those were some yummy cookies! I remember my mom used to keep the huge can of Crisco around all the time.

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