A moist scratch mini 6 inch chocolate cake recipe you can make as a small layer cake for yourself, a small birthday party, or dessert for two. Sometimes you just don’t need a large cake.
Maybe it’s a small party and you just need a small cake recipe, a smash cake or just a mini birthday cake. Maybe there are only a few people in your household, then this two-layer, 6 inch cake is the perfect size.
This chocolate mini cake is not only cute, but it’s deliciously moist and full of chocolate flavor. First, you’ve got two layers of rich chocolate cake, then everything is topped off with smooth chocolate buttercream frosting.
You can decorate this mini layer cake if you like, but it’s also ok to go the simple route and just cover it with buttercream and no designs.
Oh and a trick to decorating the sides of a layer cake, is to use an icing comb or make lines around it with an icing spatula. This way, you don’t have to worry about getting the buttercream perfectly smooth.
Hey there! Before you scroll, there’s lot’s of important stuff in the post!…including the FAQ section, which may answer any questions you might have about this recipe. Enjoy!
Now let’s talk a little about just some of the ingredients that are in the cake and buttercream recipes. (The list of ALL ingredients are in the recipe card below.)
All-purpose flour: For this small chocolate cake recipe, you’ll use plain all-purpose flour, so there’s no fancy flour involved. Make sure when you measure the flour, that you spoon it into the measuring cup, so that it doesn’t get packed into it. (See more about this in the FAQ section below.)
Unsweetened natural cocoa powder: This is what will give the cake and buttercream a rich chocolate flavor. Make sure to use natural unsweetened cocoa powder and not Dutch-processed cocoa powder. (See more about this in the FAQ section below.)
Baking powder & Baking soda: You’ll use both of these in this recipe. They’ll both help the cake to rise, but the baking soda is also needed since cocoa powder is an acidic ingredient.
Unsalted butter: This will be used for both the cake and the buttercream. Adding a bit of melted butter to the cake will add a slight buttery taste and it just makes this cake a little more flavorful than a chocolate cake made with only oil.
As for the frosting, the butter is what gives it that yummy buttercream taste and its creaminess.
Buttermilk: Buttermilk in cakes really helps give the cake a soft texture and it enhances the taste as well. Don’t worry though, it won’t make the cake taste like buttermilk though. (Make sure to check out the FAQ section below for questions about substitutions.)
Hot coffee or water: The coffee just enhances the chocolate, but it is not enough to give the cake a coffee flavor. Don’t worry if you don’t have coffee though or just hate the thought of using it, hot water will do the trick as well.
How to make this cake:
Let’s talk about how to make this 6 inch round chocolate mini cake. (The detailed instructions are also in the recipe card below.)
First, you’ll want to preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and make sure to grease and flour (or spray) two, 6 inch round cake pans that are 2 inches deep.
Grab a large mixing bowl and add all the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar). Mix it well with a whisk and set it aside.
Now add all the liquid ingredients (except for the hot water or coffee) to another mixing bowl and whisk that mixture well.
Next, add the liquid mixture (except for the coffee or water) to the dry mixture. Mix with an electric mixer, but only until the ingredients are well combined. Then make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again only for a few more seconds.
Now add in the hot coffee (or hot water) and mix until well combined, but be careful not to mix too long.
Pour the batter into two, 6 inch round cake pans and bake the cake layers at 350 degrees F for approximately 35-40 minutes.
While the cake layers are baking, mix up the buttercream, cover it and set it aside.
Once baked, set the cake layers on wire racks to cool for about ten minutes.
Next, take the cakes out of the pans and let them cool completely on the racks.
Once cool, level the cakes with a knife. (Cut off any domes that are on the cake.)
Add a layer to a cake plate or cake board and add buttercream, then the second layer of cake, then cover the entire cake with buttercream. You can then add a little piping to the cake if you like.
Add sprinkles or any other design you like and enjoy!
Tips & FAQs:
Generally, you could probably classify any cake that’s smaller than an 8-inch cake, as a mini cake. This mini cake recipe is for a 6 inch, two-layer cake.
This cake will serve about 8 people. If you cut larger sizes, it will serve less and if you cut thin slices, you will get more servings.
Make sure not to pack the flour down into the measuring cup. Spoon the flour into the cup and level it off, but don’t scoop the flour. Packing too much flour into the measuring cup will end up adding too much flour to the cake batter and will make the cake dry and tough.
Don’t use Dutch-processed cocoa for this cake as it isn’t acidic like natural cocoa powder and using it would cause the other ingredients to need to be adjusted.
If you want more information about the different types of cocoa powder, see this post: Which Cocoa Powder Should I Use?
No, you don’t want to do that. Those are different and cannot be substituted for each other. If you’d like more information on the difference, check out this blog post: Baking Powder vs Baking Soda
Unsalted is always best because you can estimate the proper amount of salt that will be added plus salted butter has a different water content than unsalted.
However, if you’re unable to get unsalted butter, you can use salted butter in the cake and the buttercream, but omit any additional salt that each recipe calls for.
Buttermilk is best here as it makes for a softer texture and really helps give the cake flavor. If you can’t get it, you can substitute with this sour milk recipe:
Fill a measuring cup to ¾ cup of regular milk, take out two teaspoons of it and replace those with two teaspoons of lemon juice or white vinegar and stir well. Let sit for 5 minutes, then use.
This will not work exactly the same as buttermilk but can work in a pinch.
You don’t, but just know that the cake will not have a coffee taste if you do use it. The coffee just brings out the chocolate flavor. If you don’t like the idea of using it though, you can just use water and it will turn out just as tasty. Just make sure not to completely omit the liquid.
Be very careful not to mix the batter too long. Scratch cakes should not be mixed for minutes at a time, or they will become dense. Stop mixing once the ingredients are well incorporated.
This cake is done baking when a toothpick inserted into the center of each layer comes out with a few moist crumbs on it or clean, but no raw batter.
This cake can be made ahead of time and frozen if desired. Let the baked cake layers cool completely, then wrap in plastic wrap and foil and place in the freezer for up to a month or two.
To thaw, place the wrapped cake layers on the counter at room temperature and let thaw completely, then remove the wrapping. Once defrosted add buttercream.
This cake can be stored, covered well, at room temperature for 2-3 days. After that, to prolong freshness, it can be stored in the refrigerator, well covered, for another 2-3 days.
That would take some calculating, but there is an 8-inch chocolate cake recipe already on the blog if you want to check that out here: Chocolate Butter Cake
This recipe should work ok for cupcakes, but since it’s a smaller batch, it won’t make a full two dozen. If you’d like a really good chocolate cupcake recipe, you’ll want to check out this post: Best Chocolate Cupcakes
This cake is best served at room temperature. If cold, pop a slice in the microwave for about 10 seconds.
If you want to add a little something extra to this cake, you could add 1 cup of mini chocolate chips to make it a double chocolate mini cake.
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Note About How I Write Recipes: I write recipes using volume (cups) measurements because here in the U.S., this is what people are more familiar with and I don’t want anyone to feel intimidated when baking. For metric measurements, click the ‘metric’ button under the ingredients in the recipe card below. The weights are converted by a program, not me, and it’s just a best guess. Please note that because I develop recipes using volume measurements, I can’t guarantee that weighing the ingredients will produce the exact same results.
Mini 6 Inch Chocolate Cake Recipe
For the chocolate cake:
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (plus 2 teaspoons) unsweetened natural cocoa powder (not Dutch processed cocoa-see notes)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup buttermilk (or regular milk mixed with 2 teaspoons lemon juice or vinegar)
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup (plus 2 tablespoons) hot coffee or hot water
For the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour (or spray) two, 6 inch round cake pans that are 2 inches deep.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar). Mix well with a whisk and set aside.
- In another mixing bowl, add all the liquid ingredients (except for the hot water or coffee) and whisk well.
- Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix with an electric mixer on medium to medium-high only until the ingredients are well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again for only about 5-10 seconds.
- Add the hot coffee (or hot water) and mix until well combined. Be careful not to over mix. Once it’s well combined, stop mixing. Don’t mix for several minutes, as that is too long and could cause the cake to be dense and/or dry. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again for only about 5-10 seconds.
- Divide the batter between the two, 6 inch round cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 35-40 minutes.
- Cake layers are baked when a toothpick inserted into the middle of each layer comes out with a few moist crumbs on it or clean.
- Set cake layers on wire racks to cool for about ten minutes, then take the cakes out of the pans and let cool completely on the racks.
- Once cool, level the cakes with a knife. (Cut off any domes that are on the cake.) Add a layer to a cake plate or cake board and add buttercream, then the second layer of cake, then cover the entire cake with buttercream. If desired, pipe borders and add sprinkles.
For the buttercream:
- In a large mixing bowl, cream the room temperature butter at medium speed until smooth.
- Add the cocoa powder and mix on low until combined, then on medium until well incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again.
- Add the confectioner's sugar, vanilla and 1 tablespoon of milk and mix on low until combined, then on medium to medium-high until well mixed.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again.
- Check the consistency. If it’s too thick add another tablespoon of milk and mix well.
- Spread buttercream onto completely cooled cake.
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