Get ready for spooky season with this three layer black velvet cake! This moist chocolate cake is topped with a creamy naturally black buttercream. I love making this showstopping cake for Halloween!
This black velvet cake is based off of my black velvet cupcakes that I made last year for Halloween! I thought a three layer cake would be even more of a dramatic dessert for the spooky season.
If you want you can make this just two layers, but if you're having a Halloween party then I definitely think a three layer cake is perfect!
Tell me about this recipe!
- Naturally Dyed - thanks to some hot water and black cocoa powder, you don't have to use any food coloring! The hot water will bloom the cocoa powder, making it very dark, while the black cocoa powder in the frosting will make it a deep midnight shade.
- Moist Chocolate Cake - this is my go to recipe for chocolate cake. It's made with oil and buttermilk which makes it extra soft and fluffy.
- Black Velvet - I used regular dutch process cocoa powder in the cake, however if you want it to be truly black like my black velvet cupcakes, then use black cocoa powder in the cake!
- American Buttercream - I frosted this cake with a fluffy American buttercream! It's a simple recipe of butter, confectioners' sugar and black cocoa powder.
Flour: I have tested this recipe with just all purpose flour, I haven't tried a gluten free alternative.
Oil: use a neutral oil like sunflower oil or vegetable oil.
Buttermilk: No buttermilk on hand? Make it yourself! For every cup of buttermilk needed, mix one cup of whole milk with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar. Let it sit for 5 minutes until it has slightly curdled.
Black Cocoa Powder: this cocoa powder is ultra dutch processed, which makes it super dark. It doesn't taste like dark chocolate, but instead is more like Oreos. If you don't have black cocoa powder then you can use regular cocoa powder and add some black food gel.
Butter: I always use European style butter in my frosting, it is much richer and creamier than regular butter.
Step by Step Instructions
Step 1: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, pour in all of your dry ingredients for the cake. Mix briefly to combine everything. I suggest wearing an apron for this recipe because there is a lot of batter and it might make a mess!
Step 2: In a medium bowl or in a large jug, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla extract until smooth.
Step 3: With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Be careful, there is a lot of batter in here and it might slosh out of the bowl! Then pour in the hot water. As you can see here, my chocolate batter isn't very dark, this is because I used warm water instead of boiling water. If you use boiling hot water, it will bloom the chocolate and turn it very dark brown, almost black.
Step 4: Pour the batter into three greased and lined 8" baking pans. If you only have two pans, then bake the first two and once they have cooled for about 15 minutes, take a cake out of one and pour the batter in for the next one! Make sure you re-grease and line it with parchment paper. Bake in an oven preheated to 350°Fahrenheit/175°Celsius for 35-40 minutes. Let them cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing and cooling completely on a wire rack.
Step 6: In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the room temperature butter with the confectioners' sugar on low speed. Once combined, beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
Step 7: Stop the mixer and add the salt, vanilla extract and black cocoa powder. Beat on low speed, then medium speed for another 2 minutes. Turn the mixer to your lowest speed and slowly pour in the heavy cream until the frosting is the consistency you want.
Recipe Tips & Tricks
- Use a weighing scale – I highly recommend using a weighing scale and measuring out your ingredients the metric way. It makes a huge difference to your baking and is the most accurate way to bake.
- Use the fluff and sprinkle method to measure your flour – if you aren’t using a scale to measure ingredients then make sure you are measuring your flour correctly! Go to this link here to find out how to do that. If you use too much flour, then you won’t have those delicious moist crumbs!
- Temperature ingredients – Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature before you start baking the cake.
- Hot water - make sure to use very, very hot water for the cake batter. That hot water will bloom the cocoa powder and turn your cake a very dark brown, almost black. If you want your cake to be truly black, use an equal amount of black cocoa powder in the cake.
- Let the cakes cool - make sure your cakes are completely cool before you frost them. You can make the cake layers the day before, just wrap them tightly in plastic wrap overnight so they don't dry out.
- Piping - I used a Wilton 1M piping tip to decorate my cake and then added some Sweetapolita sprinkles!
Frequently Asked Questions
Black velvet is very similar to red velvet, but instead of having regular cocoa powder I've used black cocoa powder! I also didn't add any red food dye to this cake. Usually red velvet cake has cream cheese frosting, but I've used an American buttercream. You can use cream cheese frosting if you prefer!
The black cocoa powder has a really interesting taste, it doesn't taste like dark chocolate or bitter, instead it reminds me of Oreo cookies. A very smooth and not overly sweet chocolate!
I bought my black cocoa powder from DeZaan, Van Houten also sells it. You should be able to find it at Whole Foods or on Amazon!
Try these fall favorites next!
Moist Black Velvet Cake
- 3 8" round cake pans
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup black cocoa powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 3 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 large eggs room temperature
- 3 cups sugar
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups buttermilk room temperature
- 1 ½ cups boiling water or coffee
- 4 sticks unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 5 cups confectioners' sugar
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 ½ cups black cocoa powder
- Preheat your oven to 350°F/175°C. Grease and line three 8" round cake pans with parchment paper. If you only have 2 pans, line those and once they're out of the oven and slightly cool, regrease and reline one of the pans to bake the third layer.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, black cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.3 cups all purpose flour, 1 cup black cocoa powder, 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder, 3 teaspoon baking soda, 3 cups sugar, 2 teaspoon kosher salt
- In a large jug, whisk the eggs, oil, buttermilk and vanilla until smooth.3 large eggs, ¾ cup vegetable oil, 1 ½ cups buttermilk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- With the mixer running on low, slowly pour in the wet ingredients. Note, this is a lot of batter so it might get messy! Once all the wet ingredients are in, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure there are no dry spots left. Start the mixer again on the lowest speed and pour in the hot water.1 ½ cups boiling water
- Pour the cake batter into the prepared pans, it should be about 680 grams of batter per pan.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes. A toothpick inserted should come out mainly clean, there might be a few crumbs. Let the cakes cool for 15 minutes in the pan, then invert the pans on a wire rack and let the cakes cool completely on a wire cooling rack.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and confectioners' sugar together on low speed until well combined.4 sticks unsalted butter, 5 cups confectioners' sugar
- Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for a 2 minutes until it becomes very thick.
- Stop the mixer and add the salt, vanilla, and cocoa powder into the bowl. Begin by beating slowly, then increase to medium-high speed for another 2 minutes2 teaspoon vanilla extract, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, 1 ½ cups black cocoa powder
- Turn the mixer to your lowest speed and pour in the heavy cream. Beat until it becomes very creamy and spreadable.½ cup heavy cream
- I used a Wilton 1M piping tip to frost the top of the cake!