Great swoops of glossy frosting make this a wonderfully exuberant cake with a dark backdrop for birthday candles. But this cake is just as suitable for afternoon snacks or a Sunday supper.
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for pans
- 3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder, plus more for pans
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 2 1/4 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 3 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- Mrs. Milman’s Chocolate Frosting
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange two racks in center of oven. Butter three 8-by-2-inch round cake pans; line bottoms with parchment. Dust bottoms and sides of pans with cocoa powder; tap out any excess. Sift cocoa into a medium bowl, and whisk in boiling water. Set aside to cool.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on low speed until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down sides twice. Beat in vanilla. Drizzle in eggs, a little at a time, beating between each addition until the batter is no longer slick, scraping down the sides twice.
- In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Whisk milk into reserved cocoa mixture. With mixer on low speed, alternately add flour and cocoa mixtures to the batter, a little of each at a time, starting and ending with flour mixture.
- Divide batter evenly among the three prepared pans. Bake until a cake tester inserted into center of each layer comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes, rotating the pans for even baking. Transfer layers to wire racks; let cool, 15 minutes. Turn out cakes, and return to racks, tops up, until completely cool.
- Remove parchment from bottoms of cakes. Reserve the prettiest layer for the top. Place one cake layer on a serving platter; spread 1 1/2 cups chocolate frosting over the top. Add the second cake layer, and spread with another 1 1/2 cups frosting. Top with third cake layer. Cover outside of cake with the remaining 3 cups frosting. Serve.
The cake keeps well for several days stored on the counter: Cover with plastic wrap or a glass dome to keep the cake from drying out.