Dark Chocolate Cake

King Arthur Test Kitchen

This extra-tall cake is super-impressive at birthday parties. If you've known and loved our Cake Pan Cake for years, this is a three-layer version of that old favorite. An easy peanut butter frosting completes this towering treat.

45 mins
35 to 40 mins
1 hr 50 mins
one 9" cake, three layers tall
Dark Chocolate Cake


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  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour (or line with parchment paper) three 9" cake pans.

  2. To make the cake: In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa, salt and baking soda.

  3. In a separate bowl, beat together the vanilla extract, almond extract, vinegar, vegetable oil, and water.

  4. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, beating until well combined.

  5. Divide the batter among the pans.

  6. Bake the cakes for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean.

  7. Remove the cakes from the oven, and cool completely before frosting. If desired, the unfrosted cake layers can be tightly wrapped and frozen for up to 3 months, then thawed and decorated.

  8. To make the frosting: Put the peanut butter and vanilla into a large mixing bowl and mix at low speed. With the mixer running Add 1 cup of confectioners' sugar followed by 2 tablespoons of almond milk, stopping to scrape the bowl from time to time. Continue adding and alternating 1 cup of confectioners' sugar with 2 tablespoons of almond milk until you have used up all of both ingredients. The frosting's consistency should be on the stiff side, a little stiffer than the peanut butter by itself.

  9. To assemble the cake: Trim off any domes on the layers. Place one layer on a serving plate trimmed side down. Peel off the parchment, and spread with 1 cup of the frosting, spreading to the edge but not covering the sides. Repeat with the remaining two layers.

  10. Store cake at room temperature, covered, for several days.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Need some decorating inspiration or a quick refresher on decorating a cake smoothly? We've compiled dozens of tips in our cake and cupcakes guide.