Black Magic Cake

Jim requested a chocolate birthday cake – actually he was being too nice and wouldn’t tell me his favorite cake, so I gave him an ultimatum: chocolate or vanilla? He chose chocolate.

When I make chocolate cake, since about a year ago I always make black magic cake. I mentioned it wayyyy back when {here}. It’s an old Hershey’s recipe I believe, and it’s moist and soft and rich and is essentially a Devil’s Food Cake. It’s delicious.

I’ll give you the cake recipe today, and we’ll do the icing tomorrow. I like keeping my recipes separate these days. You might want bakery style buttercream on vanilla cake, for instance. And this chocolate cake recipe might just totally throw you off your game. Plus, this post would be entirely too long if I don’t split it up. So here’s a refresher of what the cake looked like for you:

Jim's 30th Birthday Cake | Oysters & Pearls

I took a cake decorating class at the continuing education department at Bainbridge State College, so I have been practicing my decorating skills! :)

Anywho, here’s the recipe, including possible substitutions, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Black Magic Cake (adapted from Hershey’s)


– 2 cups sugar
– 1 2/4 cups all purpose flour
– 3/4 cup Hershey’s natural cocoa
– 2 teaspoons baking soda
– 1 teaspoon baking powder
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 2 large eggs
– 1 cup buttermilk (can substitute sour cream or probably greek yogurt for buttermilk)
– 1 cup very strong black coffee
– 1/2 cup vegetable oil
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour (or use baking spray) either: two 9″ round pans, three 8″ round pans, or one 13×9″ baking pan. The time you bake will vary by the type of pans you use.

Stir together sugar, cocoa, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs (after cracking into a small separate bowl in case you get egg shell in it, or worse, a bad egg) directly to the bowl full of dry ingredients. Then add buttermilk (or sour cream/yogurt, if using), coffee, oil, and vanilla. Transfer to a mixing bowl if using a stand mixer, or use a hand held electric mixer, and beat on medium speed for approximately 2 minutes. The batter will be really thin if you use buttermilk, so don’t be alarmed. Pour evenly into whichever pans you’re using.

13×9″ pan: bake for 35-40 minutes
two 9″ round pans: bake for 30-35 minutes
three 9″ round pans: bake for 25-30 minutes.
four 8″ round pans: back for 20 minutes

For all of these, start testing the cake with a toothpick about 5 minutes prior to the first time listed (aka at 15 minutes for four 8″ round pans). You don’t want to overcook this cake. Also, beware, as this batter rises a LOT. I recommend using bake even strips to keep them from rising too much in the middle. If you don’t, you’ll just end up having to cut the domes off the layers before you stack them.  I also don’t really recommend the two 9″ round pans, unless you have 2″ deep pans.

Cool the layers, then frost as desired. Most people put a chocolate icing on here. You could do a ganache between the layers, too. Really whatever you want!

I love this cake because it’s basically a one bowl dump cake. You mix the dry ingredients up from this:

Starting Black Magic Cake Batter | Oysters & Pearls

To this:

Dry Ingredients for Black Magic Cake | Oysters & Pearls

Using a whisk is important as it breaks up all the clumps and gets air into the dry mixture, making for a fluffier cake.

Add the wet ingredients and beat with an electric mixer.

Black Magic Cake Batter | Oysters & Pearls

The batter is crazy thin and drippy, which threw me off the first time I made it. If you use sour cream, that may thicken it up a bit. Martha Stewart’s Devil’s Food Cake uses sour cream, so that might be a good reference if you’d like to try another recipe.

I like for my cakes to be taller, so I like to use round pans so I can stack them up high! This cake would be awesome cooked in a 13×9″ pan with a ganache glaze though. Just sayin’.

Cut the Cake- Black Magic Cake with Buttercream Icing | Oysters & Pearls

Terrible late-night picture of the cut cake, but you can see how dark the cake turns out to be. It’s gorgeous!

I’ll be back tomorrow with bakery-style buttercream. I say bakery-style, in that I adapted (just barely) a recipe that copies a famously delicious Florida grocery store chain’s bakery buttercream icing…

It’s pretty awesome, and perfect for icing cakes. It’s much sturdier and heavier than my go-to Swiss Meringue Buttercream Icing, which is delicious, but sometimes you just want that classic birthday cake kinda icing. And this, my friends, is it.


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6 thoughts on “Black Magic Cake

  1. Margot C

    That is so gorgeous! Wow.

    Did you know that you can just make buttermilk by squeezing a bit of lemon into ordinary milk? Even 2% works. I do it all the time for baking. Leave it standing for at least 20 minutes.

    1. oystersandpearls Post author

      I did know that, but haven’t tried it because I almost always have buttermilk in the fridge for other stuff (mainly biscuits)! But it’s definitely a good tip worth mentioning – thanks! And thanks for reading! :)

    1. oystersandpearls Post author

      I haven’t, but it’s actually on my list of things to do! I am heading out of town for the long weekend, but it’s definitely on my agenda! I will post about it when I do :) Thanks for commenting!


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