If you've never made a scratch cake - start with this recipe. For a little extra effort you'll get a classic chocolate cake - dense and satisfying. Mixing the cocoa into the butter while it's still hot gets rid of the chalky texture. Keep frosting at room temp until ready to spread (doesn't spread well if cold). The cake is so forgiving that I have spread the frosting on while cake is still lukewarm. For birthdays I put a layer of cherry pie filling in the middle instead of frosting and use toothpicks to keep the layers from sliding. It is my family's most requested birthday cake. A real keeper.
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If you've never made a scratch cake - start with this recipe. For a little extra effort...