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Chocolate Cake

High Altitude Chocolate Cake

This moist and fluffy chocolate cake was tested at 7200 ft.
Total Time55 mins
Course: Dessert
Servings: 16 slices


  • 1/2 cup canola oil 107g
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar 347g
  • 1/4 cup sour cream 57g
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups flour 300g
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder 75g
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk 240mL
  • 3/4 cup very hot water 174mL
  • Butter and flour or parchment paper
  • Cupcake paper liners and/or non-stick baking spray if making cupcakes


  • Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.
  • Do not taste or eat any raw dough or batter made with uncooked flour and/or raw eggs.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Butter and flour two 9-inch pans, three 8-inch or one 9x13 pan. Line bottoms with parchment paper. (Not necessary for the 9x13-inch pan unless you are going to remove the cake from the pan. See Note 1.) For cupcakes, line with cupcake liners and give each a small spritz of non-stick spray.
  • In a large bowl, beat sugar and oil until combined. Scrape down bowl sides.
  • Add sour cream, eggs and vanilla. Mix on medium until combined. Scrape down bowl sides.
  • Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  • Add the flour and buttermilk one third at a time, starting with the flour and ending with the buttermilk. Beat on medium speed until combined. Scrape down bowl sides.
  • Very slowly add the hot water. Beat or stir until just mixed. (Be careful—the hot water may splash.)
  • Bake the cake 25-30 minutes for 8-inch pans, 30-35 minutes for 9-inch pans, 30-35 minutes for a 9x13-inch pan, or 15-18 minutes for cupcakes and the tops of the cakes spring back when gently touched or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. The internal temperature of the cake should be 200°F. Do not overbake!
    Do not open oven until just before testing cakes. Opening the door too soon may cause the cakes to fall in the middle.
  • Cool 10 minutes in pans. Turn out the layers onto cooling racks and remove the parchment paper if using.
    Cool completely and frost as desired.



  1. For chocolate cakes, you can use cocoa powder to flour pans to avoid white blotches on the edges. Coating a greased cake pan with a thin dusting of flour creates a barrier between the grease and the cake batter, which prevents the grease from melting and disappearing into the batter as the cake bakes, allowing it to do its job in the end, after the cake is baked. The flour helps the cake batter grip the sides to help with the rise.
  2. Substitutions for lower elevations if the above recipe doesn’t work:
    • Reduce flour to 2.25 cups
    • Increase sugar to 2 cups
    • Increase baking soda to 1 teaspoon
Nutrition Label

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Issued in furtherance of extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Kelly Crane, Director, University of Wyoming Extension, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Wyoming Extension, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming 82071.

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