back to recipes

Yields 2 (9-inch) layer cakes


I’ve been making this dessert since 2010, starting with my son’s 11th birthday party. I wrote in the margin of the Macrina Cookbook, “absolutely delicious!” Baked with our Sonora whole wheat flour, it is even more delicious than when I used to bake with white flour.



For the cake layers:

  • 4 eggs

  • 1 ½ cups whole milk

  • 2/3 canola or olive oil

  • 4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

  • 3 ½ granulated sugar

  • 3 cups sonora whole wheat flour

  • ½ cup dark cocoa powder, sifted

  • 2 tsp baking powder

  • 2 tsp baking soda

  • 1 ½ tsp salt

  • 1 ½ cups boiling water


For the chocolate frosting:

  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped

  • ½ pound, 2 sticks butter, at room temperature

  • 1 ¾ cups powdered sugar, sifted

  • 1 Tbls pure vanilla extract



Cake Layers:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Prepare 2 (9 inch) cake pans by brushing the inside with oil, then lining the bottom with a 9 inch circle of parchment paper. Set aside.

  2. Combine the eggs, milk, sugar, canola or olive oil, and vanilla extract in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, mix well.

  3. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a separate bowl. Toss together with your hands to combine.

  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in the stand mixer and whisk for 2 minutes on medium speed. Keep mixing as you add the boiling water in a slow stream, mixing until the water is incorporated, about 30 seconds.

  5. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans. Place on the center rack of your oven and bake 55-60 minutes, or until the cake is set in the center. Test center with a skewer to make sure the cake is done. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes.


  1. Place chocolate in a medium stainless steal bowl or double-boiler. Place bowl on top of a saucepan filled with 2 inches of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. It’s important that the water be just simmering; if it’s too hot it will scorch the chocolate. Stir chocolate with a rubber spatula until all of the pieces have melted and reached a smooth consistency. Remove the bowl from heat and let cool to room temperature.

  2. Combine butter and powdered sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer and using the paddle attachment, mix for 5 to 8 minutes to cream butter and sugar. Start on low speed and gradually increase to medium. Starting out on a higher speed will likely result in a snow-storm of powdered sugar. When the butter mixture is light and fluffy, add the melted chocolate and mix until incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and continue missing until the frosting is thick enough to spread, a few more minutes. If the frosting gets too soft, simply chill in the refrigerator to firm up. If it stays in the refrigerator too long, let sit out for a few minutes and then whip it.


Assembling the cake:

  1. Run a sharp knife around the edges of the cooled cake to release the sides from the pan. Invert one of the cakes and release it onto a serving plate. Carefully peel off the parchment paper. Spread a generous amount of frosting over the top of the cake, making sure to get the frosting all the way to the edges of the cake. Invert the second cake onto the frosted cake. Remove the parchment paper and repeat by generously frosting the top of the cake. Spread a little more frosting on the sides of until the entire cakes has what bakers call a crumb coat: a thin underlayer of frosting that keeps crumbs out of the final layer of frosting. Chill the cake for 20-30 minutes in the refrigerator. The remaining frosting can remain at room temperature.

  2. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and add the final layer of frosting. I like to create a swirl pattern in the frosting just like the cakes I remember from childhood. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two days before serving. Serve at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.

download the recipe