The batter for this chocolate cake is inspired by Beatty’s Chocolate Cake found in one of Barefoot Contessa’s cookbooks — here is the book online. It was the first from-scratch chocolate cake we ever made and we’ve been religiously making it ever since. For the frosting, we stick to a simple chocolate buttercream.
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
1/2 cup jam
8 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
3 1/2 to 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons milk
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter then flour two 8-inch round cake pans.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In another large bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla then use a handheld mixer on medium speed to combine. Turn the mixer to low and add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, mixing gently until they disappear and the batter is smooth. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl then with the mixer still on low, add the coffee and mix just until combined.
Divide the batter between prepared cake pans then bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
Melt 8 ounces of milk chocolate either over a double boiler or in the microwave.Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, combine the softened butter, vanilla and salt. Use a hand mixer to beat on medium-low speed for about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar. Stop the mixer occasionally and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the milk and increase to medium speed. Beat for another 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the melted chocolate (should be at room temperature) and beat until combined, then increase the speed to medium and beat for one more minute.
Place one layer, flat side up, on a plate or cake stand. Fill a re-sealable plastic bag with the corner cut off or a pastry bag with the chocolate buttercream. Carefully squeeze the frosting around the outer perimeter of your cake; this prevents the jam from oozing out.
Add the jam to the center of the cake. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly over the top and sides of the cake.