Chocolate Cake Part 1: The Cake

Since this would be an incredibly long post if I wrote both the cake and frosting recipes in one, I decided to break it up into two separate posts. I actually love making layer cakes and really any excuse is a good one for me to make one -- birthdays, obviously being the best. Though they have a lot of steps, there is something incredibly satisfying in the end product, and I love all of the smoothing and decorating that goes into it. I know, I'm weird, I guess it's just the detail-oriented editorial assistant in me. Also, I always make the layers of a cake a few days ahead of time and freeze them, as frozen cake layers are much easier to work with than soft ones.  Anyways, on to the recipe... Chocolate Cake (adapted from Bon Appétit)

2 cups cake flour

1 cup unsweetened cocoa power

1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 cups (packed) golden brown sugar

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp

3 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk

1/2 cup lukewarm water

Measure out 3 9-inch rounds on parchment paper and cut out. Butter and flour 3 9-inch cake pans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla. Alternate adding buttermilk and dry ingredients in three additions each, beating well after each addition. Mix in water. 

Divide batter among prepared pans, and smooth tops. Bake cakes until a tester comes out clean in the center, about 22 minutes. Let cool on a rack, and invert onto plates or cardboard rounds. If making ahead, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and tinfoil and store in freezer for up to a week.