This recipe has a lot of steps, but it's pretty easy to make. I haven't had a lot of success with homemade cakes, but this one rocks. The key is to have patience and follow the steps exactly.
Old-Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake
Courtesy of America's Test Kitchen
1 1/4 all purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans
12 T butter, softened, but still cool
1 1/4 c sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c + 2 scant tsp cocoa
1 c plus 2 T milk
2 tsp vanilla
Make sure your oven rack is in the center position and heat the oven to 350. Generously grease 2 8-inch round cake pans and cover the pan bottoms with rounds of parchment paper or waxed paper. Grease the parchment rounds and dust the pans with flour, tapping out the excess. Beat the butter in a large bowl at med-high speed until smooth and shiny (abt. 30 seconds). Gradually sprinkle in the sugar; beat until the mixture is fluffy and almond white, 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating 1 full miinute after each addition.
Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa in a medium bowl. Combine the milk and vanilla in a liquid measuring cup. With the mixer at the lowest speed, add about a third of the dry ingredients to the batter, followed immediately by about a third of the milk mixture. Mix until the ingredients are almost incorporated into the batter. Repeat the process 2 more times and scrape the sides of the bowl. Return to mixer to lower speed; beat until the batter looks satiny, about 15 seconds.
Divide the batter evenly (Important!) between the pans. Smooth the top. Bake 23-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes clean. Remove from oven and let cool in pans 10 minutes. Run a knife around the pan, invert onto racks, and peel off the paper liners. Reinvert the cakes onto addition racks; cool completely before frosting.
*All in all, it took me about 2 hours to make and frost this cake. Make sure the cake is cooled completely before frosting. Some hints in frosting:
1) To avoid crumbs, crumb coat the cake
2) Dump all of your frosting on the top of the cake and then start to push the frosting toward the edges. You can get the desired thickness of frosting on top and then it's really easy to frost the sides because all of your frosting is already there.