An essential homemade chocolate cake recipe, with a moist tender crumb and perfect deep chocolate flavor and a creamy ganache frosting.This is the cake to make for family birthdays, as well as for other special occasions that require cake!
Preheat oven to 350 (175 C) degrees. Butter (3) 8-inch cake pans and line the bottom with parchment paper.
Put the cocoa powder and chocolate in a heatproof bowl and pour the boiling water over. Stir until smooth and let cool.
Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.
In a heavy-duty mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes on medium-high speed. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture in 3 separate additions, alternating with the cocoa mixture.
Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans. Bake 30-35 minutes, shifting the pans from front to back halfway through, until the tops of the cakes spring back when touched in the center. Cool in the pan 20 minutes, then gently turn out and cool completely on a rack. The cakes can be made up to 2 days ahead. Wrap them in plastic and store at room temperature.
Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl with the salt. Bring the cream to a boil then pour over the chocolate. Let stand for 10 minutes, then stir until the chocolate melts and the ganache is completely smooth. Cool to room temperature, until it's thickened to a spreadable consistency.
To assemble the cake, spread the cooled ganache over the top of each layer, spreading to the edges. Stack the cakes on a plate and spread the top and sides with more ganache to cover the cake.
The cake will be have an even better texture if the layers are wrapped in plastic wrap, at room temperature, for one day before frosting and serving.
If you're in a hurry to frost the cake, stick the ganache in the fridge for 15 minutes or so to cool and thicken it faster.
Semisweet chocolate can be substituted in both the cake batter and ganache.
To store the cake, cover lightly with plastic wrap and store at cool room temperature up to 3 days. In warmer climates, store in the fridge and bring to room temperature before serving.