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Chocolate-on-Chocolate Three-Layer Cake

16 to 20 Servings

2 hours 1 hour active, plus cooling

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This grand, triple-layer, old-fashioned chocolate cake comes from “Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook” by Cheryl Day and Griffith Day, proprietors of Back in the Day Bakery in Savannah, Georgia. Cheryl Day learned the recipe from her grandmother but put her own stamp on it with a few tweaks, including the addition of coffee, which adds complexity and intensifies the roasty, bittersweet notes of the chocolate. The cake is made with unsweetened chocolate and the frosting calls for semisweet; for the best flavor, search out good-quality chocolate for both. You will need three 9-by-2-inch round cake pans. Some ovens cannot comfortably fit three pans on the same rack; if this is the case with yours, the recipe includes instructions for baking on two different racks. Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator well covered or under a cake dome for a few days, but bring to room temperature before serving.

16 to 20



Don’t leave the unsweetened chocolate for the cake in large pieces. Finely chopping it helps ensure that it fully melts with the heat of the coffee. When making the frosting, be sure the melted chocolate is cool to the touch before beating it into the butter. Finally, don’t trim the cake layers while they’re still warm. The cake will cut more cleanly and with less “crumbing” when cooled to room temperature.

2 hours

1 hour active, plus cooling

For the cake

  • 360

    grams (3 cups) cake flour, plus more for the pans


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David C.
February 4, 2023
Works as half-recipe in three 6 inch pans
This was great - moist, nice crumb and nice contrast between chocolate in cake and frosting. I only wanted a half a cake, so I cut recipe in half and used three 6 inch cake pans. 37 minutes was the correct time. Half the frosting was a little too much to only do the tops of each layer and not quite enough to do the sides, too. And the cake was a little unstable, being very tall and narrow. Next time, I'll make 1/3 of the recipe and use just two layers (with 1/2 recipe of frosting).
Janet A.
December 20, 2022
Great recipe
This cake has a great flavor, it's moist & the frosting is the frosting on the cake!! It is
Maria F.
November 7, 2022
awesome chocolate cake
The cake was super moist, had an incredible taste and not too sweet. I've made it one week ago and the cake is still incredible and delicious. I didn't have enough unsweetened chocolate so a mixed a 50/50 on bittersweet and unsweetened and adjusted the sugar by 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups. And came out delicious
Allison B.
December 2, 2022
Fantastic!-From someone who's not a huge chocolate cake fan.
I've been to Back in the Day Bakery before, and their cupcakes are always a treat. But this cake is so well balanced and delicious on top of being pretty easy! Chocolate cake is usually the last cake I crave, but this one is so good and the height makes it feel so damn fancy. I've made it twice, once with sub-par coffee and once with a really nice roast. If at all possible to do with good coffee, do it. It makes a difference. Let this cake whisk you away to that one cake in the movie Matilda. (If you know, than you know)