Scratch Chocolate Cake with Box Qualities

  • Serves: Makes two 9-inch layers
  • Baking Temp (degrees F): 325
  • Views: 19544
  • Comments: 105

Variations:  Scratch Non-Chocolate Espresso Cake with Box QualitiesScratch White Cake with Box QualitiesScratch Yellow Cake with Box Qualities

Photo and cake by sugarpie, Premium Member © Sarah Phillips Cake frosted with Easy Peanut Butter Chocolate Frosting.

chocolatechase, a new member of, asked me if there is a chocolate version of the Scratch Yellow Cake with Box Qualities. Because there wasn't, as a response, I developed this recipe.  

I use what is called the Two-Step Mixing Method, to bring you a tender and moist cake! I recently discovered through research, that in fact, the Pillsbury Company invented this method in 1945, which they called the Quick-Mix Method, as a way for home baker's to bake light and airy cakes. Crisco was used in their recipes at the time, and butter could be easily substituted, with the same result.

The Two-Step or Quick-Mix Method works this way: Mixing the butter first directly with the flour and dry ingredients, coats the gluten-forming proteins in the wheat flour with fat, so when the wet ingredients, such as buttermilk and water are added next, and the ingredients are mixed, very little gluten is formed. Plus, cake flour is low in gluten forming proteins, and it being bleached, toughens the protein molecules, enabling it to carry more than its weight in sugar and fat; cakes with bleached cake flour tend to be higher in sugar and fat, both tenderizers, than those without - that's why these cakes literally melt in your mouth!

Zamode, Premium Member, Says: "It looks like devil's food cake when cut, a bit of a reddish-brown's light like cake mix but not 100% like a cake mix; does have a nice chocolaty taste. It looks dense but doesn't taste heavy at all and has a rich, buttery chocolate flavor that almost melts in your mouth. It's not overwhelming though in the butter or chocolate taste. It would be great cake with tea or coffee after a meal. Very nice cake, definitely will make it again."

sugarpie, Premium Member, Says: "Coupled with Sarah's Easy Peanut Butter-Chocolate Frosting, this cake is to die for. Eating this cake comes pretty close to a food-gasmic experience. Anyone who loves chocolate and peanut butter has got to try this. You will not regret it."


2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold

1/2 cup milk
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising); spoon into measuring cup and level to rim (do not sift the flour before measuring)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (can substitute with Dutch-processed cocoa)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder, optional

1 1/2 cups sugar

NOTES: You can substitute the natural cocoa powder with Dutch-process. Do not change the leaveners in the recipe.

1 recipe Easy Peanut Butter-Chocolate Frosting

1. Position oven shelf in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. (If using dark, nonstick baking pans or ovenproof, Pyrex glass pans, do NOT reduce the oven heat by 25 degrees F).

Grease two, 9 x 2-inch cake pans. Set aside.

Remove the butter sticks from the refrigerator, and cut into approximately 10 - 12 evenly-sliced pieces. Set aside, and let soften slightly, but must remain cool.

In a one or two-cup measuring cup or a bowl with a pouring spout, beat together the milk, eggs and vanilla, and beat together with a fork. Set aside.

SARAH SAYS: I measure the milk in a one-cup liquid measuring cup and to it, I add the eggs and vanilla extract.

2. Into the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and, optionally, the instant espresso powder. Add the sugar. Fit a paddle attachment to the mixer, and mix on low, about 10 to 15 seconds to combine the ingredients. Make sure you get all of the ingredients mixed in from the bottom of the bowl.

3. With the mixer on low speed, add the butter 1 tablespoon or piece at a time at a time into the flour mixture. Keep adding each butter-piece about 10 seconds apart, until all has been incorporated. The flour mixture should begin to clump together and look moistened slightly. You should not see any butter pieces in the mixture.

4. With the mixer speed on low, add 1/2 of the egg/milk mixture slowly at the side of the bowl. Mix until incorporated, taking about 5-10 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about a minute.

With the mixer on low speed, add the remaining egg mixture in a slow steady stream at the side of the bowl. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides. Beat at medium speed until thoroughly mixed and light and fluffy, about 1 minute. The batter will look fluffy.

5. Divide the batter evenly between the pans and gently smooth the tops. The batter will fill the baking pans about half-full.

6. Bake for about 25 - 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs attached but not batter. The sides will shrink slightly from the sides of the pan. Do not overbake. The cake is not a high riser and the cake bakes flat.

Remove cakes to cool on wire racks for 10 to 15 minutes and then unmold onto wire cake racks, right-side-up, to cool thoroughly. Be careful, the cakes are delicate when warm.

Fill and frost with Easy Peanut Butter-Chocolate Frosting.

The cake layers store nicely. They can be stored at room temperature for about 3 or more days. The cake layers freeze well for about a month or more. Keep well wrapped.

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