This is my absolute favourite chocolate cake recipe. It’s this wonderful mix of fluffy and fudgy due to it’s light crumb but very moist texture and it’s the perfect vehicle for rich, tangy blackberries.

Calling all chocolate lovers! Some of the most popular recipes on this blog are chocolate cakes like this Chocolate Mud Cake, this Chocolate Loaf Cake  or this Chocolate Roll Cake and this One Bowl Chocolate Freckle Cake. There are loads more so check the links just before the recipe card.

A 3 layer chocolate cake topped with berries adn chocolate curls

I first published this blackberry chocolate cake to celebrate Sugar Salt Magics 2nd birthday and what a celebration cake it is. With the blog now nearly 5 ½ years old, I decided it was time to give this cake some gorgeous photos worthy of it’s deliciousness.

You’ll love it too, pinky promise. The original version was filled with layers of chocolate ganache and blackberry curd that would squish out the sides. Delicious as it was, I’ve now made it easier to make and serve, whilst keeping this cake supremely chocolatey and moist.

A slice of 3 layer chocolate cake on a white plate with more around

Now it’s filled with a whipped vanilla buttercream, with blackberry curd swirled through it. Then a little cocoa is added to the remaining buttercream to give the outside of the cake a sparse coating of chocolate buttercream.

In each mouthful you get rich chocolate, light buttercream and a berry tang. I’ve kept the buttercream minimal since the cake is so moist it barely needs it at all.

Ingredients you’ll need

You’ll find all the obvious cake suspects in here – flour (3), sugar (5 & 8), eggs (7), butter (4), baking soda, baking powder and salt (11). The remaining ingredients are what makes this chocolate cake extra special.

Ingredients for chocolate cake on a marble surface
Ingredients for blackberry chocolate cake
  • Blackberry curd (1): This is homemade and you’ll be addicted once you try it but you could substitute a good blackberry jam.
  • Buttermilk (2): This helps to keep this cake moist and so tender.
  • Dutch process cocoa (6): This super dark cocoa is rich and gives this cake it’s dark colour. Many cocoas these days are dutched so just check the back of the pack to find out.
  • Coffee granules (10): Don’t worry if you aren’t a coffee lover, you can’t taste the coffee. So why is it there? It actually makes the chocolate more chocolatey.
  • Vanilla: This, just like the coffee, is there to enrich that chocolate flavour. This cake does not taste like vanilla but it needs it for richness and balance.

How to make it

This 3 layer chocolate cake is actually very simple to make. All you need is a couple of bowls and a balloon whisk. There is no creaming of butter and sugar or whipping up eggs. This is as simple as cakes get and I love it.

4 images showing the batter for chocolate cake
Mixing together the batter for the cake
  1. The dry ingredients: Sift, then whisk together the dry ingredients in a bowl (photo 1). Sifting is often necessary for things like cocoa and baking soda which tend to get lumpy.
  2. The wet ingredients: In another bowl, combine the sugar and melted butter (photo 2) until incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time (photo 3), then the vanilla, buttermilk (photo 4) and coffee with boiling water (photo 5).
4 images showing how to make a chocolate cake
Making the batter and assembling the cake
  1. Combine the two: Now add 1/3 of the dry ingredients into the wet (photo 6) – use a whisk and a folding action for this – then repeat with the remaining dry ingredients.
  2. Divide it among tins: Divide the batter among 3 x 8 inch cake pans (photo 7).
  3. The buttercream: This is so simple. Just beat butter for 3-4 minutes until it’s looking light and fluffy. Add the icing (powdered) sugar, salt and vanilla and beat until it looks super fluffy.
  4. Assemble the cake: Top one layer with roughly ½ cup of the buttercream, then dollop ¼ cup of blackberry curd over the top and swirl it around. Repeat for a second layer (photo 8). Add the third layer and mix cocoa into the remaining buttercream. Spread that all over the cake to give it a naked cake effect.

This cake is topped with fresh blackberries, raspberries and dark chocolate curls to keep it simple but indulgent.

Closeup of the inside of a 3 layer chocolate cake

Tips for a perfect chocolate cake

  • Weigh ingredients: Cakes will always turn out better if you weigh out your ingredients. Simply scooping flour from a container will give you too much and lead to a dry cake. If you don’t have kitchen scales, then spoon the flour into your cup measure and then level it off with the back of a knife.
  • All ovens are different: What takes 20 minutes in my oven, may take 18 or 22 in yours, so check the cakes a couple of minutes early. They’re done when a toothpick comes out with just a sticky crumb or two attached.
  • Don’t overmix: If cake batter is overmixed, it can result in tough, chewy cake. No one wants that, so make sure to mix carefully. I use a handheld whisk but just fold the mixture gently until it’s all incorporated.
  • Use cake strips: Ever get frustrated when you pull your cake out of the oven and it’s domed, meaning you either need to cut away part of the cake to level it, or add extra buttercream to make up for the larger gaps at the side?
    Cakes dome because, the edge cook and set quicker than the middle so keeping the sides cooler will help and you can do that with cake strips. They’re purpose made so that you can just soak them and wrap them around the outside of the cake tin for baking.
    You can make cake strips yourself using tea towels and safety pins but the purpose made ones are just so convenient. See the image below – the one on the left rose more evenly (with cake strips) the one on the right is the same height in the middle but the edges are much lower.
Two cakes side by side showing their different heights

Storing the cake

This blackberry chocolate cake will keep well, covered, in the fridge for 3-4 days. Let it come to room temperature (about 1-2 hours) before serving. Single slices will come to room temperature much quicker, maybe ½ an hour.

Unfrosted, the chocolate cakes freeze really well too. Wrap them in 3 layers of plastic wrap, being careful not to pull too tight since the cake is delicate and you may alter the shape.

Freeze the cakes on a flat surface then, once solid, they can be stored in the freezer for 2-3 months. Let it thaw in the fridge overnight.

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A slice of 3 layer chocolate cake on a white plate with a forkful cut out

PS. do you want to see the first recipe ever posted on Sugar Salt Magic – check out my Cookies and Cream Cupcakes.

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Closeup of the inside of a 3 layer chocolate cake

Blackberry Chocolate Cake

4.6 from 10 votes
This blackberry chocolate cake is the most amazingly moist and rich, layered chocolate cake filled with a simple whipped vanilla buttercream and fresh blackberry curd. Three gorgeous layers of extreme chocolatey flavour and tangy blackberry.

Ingredients

CHOCOLATE CAKE

  • 1 cup hot water (250ml)
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee powder
  • 295 g plain (all-purp) flour (2 ¼ cups / 10.4oz)
  • 110 g dutch process cocoa (1 cup / 3.9oz)
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 200 g white granulated sugar (1 cup / 7oz)
  • 150 g dark brown sugar, packed (¾ cup / 5.3oz)
  • 2 large eggs, room temp
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk (250ml)

THE WHIPPED VANILLA BUTTERCREAM

  • 226 g unsalted butter, softened (1 cup / 2 sticks)
  • 260 g icing (powdered) sugar (2 cups / 9.2oz)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa, any type (extra)
  • Fresh berries and chocolate curls to top

Instructions
 

FOR THE CHOCOLATE CAKE

  • Preheat your oven to 180C / 350F / 160C fan forced and grease 3x 8 inch cake tins. Line the base of each tin with baking paper. Soak and attach cake strips, if using.
  • Combine the boiling water and coffee powder and set aside.
  • In a bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk to combine.
  • In a separate bowl whisk together the melted butter and both sugars until combined.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go and beating until smooth each time.
  • Add the vanilla and buttermilk and whisk to combine. Then whisk in the coffee mixture.
  • Add ⅓ of the flour mixture to the wet mixture. Fold gently with the whisk until just combined. Repeat twice more and on the last addition, just mix it until there are no lumps – maybe another 15 seconds.
  • Bake for 18-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out with just a couple of sticky crumbs.
  • Allow them to cool for 10 minutes before carefully removing them from the pans

FOR THE WHIPPED BUTTERCREAM

  • In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on low-med for 3-4 minutes until lightened and fluffy. Scrape down the sides half way through then continue beating.
  • Add half the sugar and beat on low until mostly incorporated. Add the remaining sugar, vanilla and salt and beat for 4-5 minutes at medium speed until it looks whipped.

TO ASSEMBLE THE CAKE

  • Top one cake layer with ½ cup of the buttercream. Now spread over ¼ cup of blackberry curd and swirl it through a little. Repeat with layer two.
  • Mix the tablespoon of cocoa into the remaining buttercream. Add the final cake layer, then spread the chocolate buttercream all over to give a naked cake effect.
  • Top with fresh berries and chocolate curls or shavings.
  • Chill until required but bring to room temperature 1-2 hours before serving.

Notes

  1. I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (= 4 teaspoons worldwide)
  2. For best results you should always weigh ingredients like flour and sugar. Kitchen scales are relatively cheap but if you can’t weigh the ingredients, use the spoon and level method (don’t scoop).
  3. The blackberry curd – see recipe – does require a couple of hours to set firm enough to use between the layers.
  4. You could swap the blackberry curd for blackberry jam or preserves.
  5. This cake can also be made as two 8 inch layers with the same batter quantity. Baking time will increase to about 28-30 minutes.
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