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Busy Day Chocolate Cake

close up shot of a slice of Busy Day Chocolate Cake on a plate
You'll love this moist and irresistable busy day chocolate cake baked from scratch and topped with our rich, homemade frosting!
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Table of Contents
  1. BUSY DAY CHOCOLATE CAKE INGREDIENTS
  2. HOW TO MAKE THIS BUSY DAY CHOCOLATE CAKE RECIPE
  3. HOW TO SERVE
  4. STORAGE
  5. MORE RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
  6. JUMP TO RECIPE

This classic busy day chocolate cake is an old-fashioned dessert I stole from my Southern grandma’s recipe box. It’s a favorite that is quick and easy to make and comes out moist with a rich frosting on top. It has a secret ingredient, coffee, that enhances all of that delicious chocolate flavor. You’ll love this simple, yummy cake. 

Check out more of our easy cake recipes such as our eclair cake and Boston cream poke cake.

A piece of chocolate cake on a plate, with Icing and Cream

BUSY DAY CHOCOLATE CAKE INGREDIENTS

You’ll need:

For the Cake:

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup hot coffee
  • 1 cup vegetable oil

For the Icing:

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons coffee
  • ½ tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar

SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS

BUTTERMILK: You can make your own buttermilk using whole or 2% milk and lemon juice or distilled vinegar.  For every 1 cup of milk, stir in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar.

CHOCOLATE CHIPS: Add a little bit extra to this moist chocolate cake with chocolate chips mixed into the batter.

NUTS: If you like nuts in your cake, add chopped walnuts or pecans to your cake batter.

COFFEE: If you absolutely do not want to use coffee in this recipe, you can substitute the same amount of hot water for the coffee

A close up of a coffee cup, with Cake and Chocolate

HOW TO MAKE THIS BUSY DAY CHOCOLATE CAKE RECIPE

For the Cake:

STEP ONE: Preheat oven to 375°F and grease a 9×13-inch cake pan by rubbing shortening on the pan and using cocoa powder to dust the pan instead of white flour.

PRO TIP

Rubbing cocoa powder on the pan instead of flour keeps the chocolate flavor going.

STEP TWO: Using a large bowl combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk the dry ingredients together.

A cup of coffee, with Cake and Chocolate

STEP THREE: Add the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, coffee, and oil. Beat on medium speed with an electric mixer for about two minutes, the batter will be thin.

STEP FOUR: Pour batter evenly into the prepared pan.

A close up of a sign

STEP FIVE: Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

STEP SIX: Cool 10 minutes in the pan before icing.

A chocolate cake sitting on top of a table

For the Icing:

STEP ONE: In a medium saucepan on medium-low heat melt the butter. Remove from heat. Whisk in cocoa powder. Return to stove on medium-low heat and cook until just begins to boil.

STEP TWO: Remove from heat. Whisk in the powdered sugar — you can sift it to remove any lumps before adding. Add the vanilla and coffee and stir until mixed.

STEP THREE: Let the frosting cool for 10 minutes to let it set up just a bit.

PRO TIP

Don’t let the icing cool too long or it will harden in your pan and not be easy to spread.

STEP FOUR: Spread the icing over the cake.

HOW TO SERVE

This delicious cake is perfect with a freshly brewed cup of hot coffee. You could also serve the warm cake and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. During the holidays, you can serve this with a scoop of peppermint ice cream. During the spring, add fresh berries. 

STORAGE

ON THE COUNTER: This simple cake will store in an airtight container on the counter for three days. 

IN THE FREEZER: You can freeze this cake, either in slices or as a whole. If you plan to freeze a frosted cake, it is helpful to freeze the cake unwrapped first, and then to wrap the frozen slice or pan once the frosting will no longer transfer to the wax paper or other wrapper.

A chocolate cake on a plate

This busy day cake is so simple to make but it tastes absolutely amazing! The cake is dense and moist, with the perfect balance of sweet and chocolate richness. The homemade icing is everything. It’s so good, I could happily eat it with a spoon on its own. Whip this up the next time you are craving chocolate or even for special occasions. 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can I freeze this cake?

This easy recipe can be frozen either as a whole or cut into slices for up to two months.

What makes this dense chocolate cake so moist?

The buttermilk and oil make this black magic chocolate cake extra moist.

Is this cake the same as wacky cake?

While not exactly the same as wacky or depression cake, this busy day cake has many of the same ingredients.

MORE RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE

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close up shot of a slice of Busy Day Chocolate Cake on a plate

Busy Day Chocolate Cake

5 from 1 vote
You'll love this moist and irresistable busy day chocolate cake baked from scratch and topped with our rich, homemade frosting!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings 12

Ingredients
  

Cake:

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • cups flour
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • teaspoons baking soda
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup hot coffee
  • 1 cup vegetable oil

Icing:

  • ½ cup butter softened
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoon coffee
  • ½ tablespoon vanilla

Instructions
 

Cake:

  • Heat oven to 375°F.
  • Grease and flour a 9×13-inch cake pan.
  • Using a large bowl combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk the dry ingredients together.
  • Add the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, coffee, and oil. Beat on medium speed for about two minutes, the batter will be thin.
  • Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  • Cool 10 minutes in the pan before icing.

Icing:

  • In a medium saucepan on medium-low heat melt the butter. Remove from heat.
  • Whisk in cocoa.
  • Return to stove on medium-low heat and cook until just begins to boil.
  • Remove from heat. Whisk in the powdered sugar (you can sift it to remove any lumps before adding).
  • Add the vanilla and coffee and stir until mixed.
  • Let the frosting cool for 10 minutes to let it set up just a bit. Then ice the cake. Don’t let it cool too long or it will harden in your pan and not be as easy to spread.
  • Spread the icing over the cake.

Video

Notes

TIP: Rubbing cocoa powder on the pan instead of flour keeps the chocolate flavor going.
 
TIP: Don’t let the icing cool too long or it will harden in your pan and not be easy to spread.

Nutrition

Calories: 463kcal | Carbohydrates: 88g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 50mg | Sodium: 296mg | Potassium: 205mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 64g | Vitamin A: 309IU | Calcium: 62mg | Iron: 2mg
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  1. SheriO says

    The recipe says bake 30-40 min at 375. The comments say 350. The picture appears to say 10 min at 350. You make HOT coffee and mix it with the eggs?

  2. Chris says

    It says “To make homemade buttermilk, whisk 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar with enough whole milk or half and half to make 1/2 cup of liquid.”

    The recipe calls for 1 cup of buttermilk….so would you add 4 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar with enough whole milk/half and half to make 1 cup of liquid?

  3. Beth says

    Ingredients call for both baking soda and baking powder, yet instructions just say to add baking soda…no mention of adding the baking powder?

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