Grandma Gorman’s Chocolate Cake

Preparation info

  • Makes

    10 to 12

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Get in There and Cook: A Master Class for the Starter Chef

Get in There and Cook

By Richard Sax

Published 1997

  • About

Who can say “no” to chocolate cake? This old-fashioned two-layer classic is the kind you only can find these days when you bake it at home. This particular recipe I’ve borrowed from my editor.



  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1⅔ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • #1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1⅔ cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


    1. Prepare the cakes: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch-round cake pans. Dust the insides of the pans generously with unsweetened cocoa powder or all-purpose flour (tap out any excess).
    2. Melt together the butter and chocolate in a small heatproof bowl placed over a small saucepan of simmering, not boiling, water.
    3. Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the mixture becomes very light and a ribbon forms when the mixer is turned off and the beaters are lifted.
    4. Stir the chocolate mixture to blend. Add to the egg mixture and beat to combine well.
    5. Stir together the flour and salt in a bowl. Stir together the baking soda and milk in a small bowl to dissolve the baking soda. Working in batches, stir with a wooden spoon the flour and milk mixtures into the chocolate mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Stir in the vanilla. Don’t worry if the batter seems thin—that’s the way it should be.
    6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans, dividing equally. Tap them gently on the counter to eliminate any air bubbles.
    7. Place the pans on the center rack in the oven and bake until a cake tester or wooden pick inserted in the centers of the cakes comes out clean without any crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the pans to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Then turn the cakes out onto the rack to cool completely.
    8. Prepare the frosting: Sift together the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, and salt into the bowl of a standing electric mixer. Add the butter and beat on medium speed until the mixture is well blended and smooth; the mixture will be very stiff. Beat in enough of the cream to make a spreadable frosting. Beat in the vanilla.
    9. Place one cake layer, bottom side up, on a cake platter. Brush off any crumbs. Spread the frosting with a metal spatula or rubber spatula over the top of the layer. Place the second cake layer on top, bottom side down. Spread the top and sides of the cake with frosting.