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Homemade German Chocolate Cake

Homemade German Chocolate Cake

A Slice of German Chocolate Heaven: Baking a Classic from Scratch

German chocolate cake – the name itself conjures up images of rich chocolate layers, a decadent coconut-pecan filling, and a creamy frosting. This iconic dessert is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, perfect for birthdays, potlucks, or simply satisfying your sweet tooth. But achieving that bakery-style perfection at home might seem daunting. Fear not! This recipe unlocks the secrets to creating an unbelievably delicious German chocolate cake from scratch.


For the Deeply Chocolatey Cake Layers (makes two 8-inch or 9-inch rounds):

  • Dry Ingredients:
    • 2 cups granulated sugar (sweetens the cake and adds structure)
    • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour (the base for the cake structure)
    • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (creates the intense chocolate flavor)
    • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder (for lift and airiness)
    • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda (contributes to rise and tenderness)
    • 1 teaspoon salt (balances the sweetness and enhances the flavor profile)
  • Wet Ingredients:
    • 2 large eggs (bind the ingredients and add richness)
    • 1 cup buttermilk (adds tang, moisture, and tenderness)
    • ½ cup vegetable or canola oil (moistens the cake and keeps it from being dry)
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (infuses warm vanilla notes)
    • 1 cup boiling water (creates a thin batter that bakes into moist and tender cake layers)

For the Dreamy Coconut-Pecan Frosting:

  • ½ cup light brown sugar (adds depth of flavor and caramel notes)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar (sweetens the frosting)
  • ½ cup butter (creates a smooth and creamy texture)
  • 3 large egg yolks (enrich the frosting and add thickness)
  • ¾ cup evaporated milk (thins the frosting and adds a touch of sweetness)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (for warmth and complexity)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (adds a satisfying crunch and nutty flavor)
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut (the signature element of German chocolate cake)

For the Rich Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:

  • ½ cup butter (the base of the frosting)
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (for intense chocolate flavor)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar (sweetens and thickens the frosting)
  • ⅓ cup evaporated milk (thins the frosting to spreading consistency)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (rounds out the flavor profile)


  1. Preheat the Oven and Prep the Pans: Begin by preheating your oven to 375°F (190°C). Grease two 8-inch or 9-inch round cake pans. For easy removal, consider lining the bottoms with parchment paper circles cut to fit.

  2. Creating the Deep Chocolate Cake Batter: In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Ensure everything is well combined.

  3. The Wet Ingredients Come Together: In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla extract until smooth.

  4. Uniting the Wet and Dry: Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Don't overmix, as this can lead to a tough cake.

  5. The Secret Weapon – Boiling Water: Slowly stir in the boiling water. The batter will appear thin, but that's okay! This is what creates the cake's signature moist and tender crumb.

  6. Baking the Chocolate Layers: Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake for 25-35 minutes, depending on the size of your pans. The 9-inch pan will bake faster. Insert a toothpick in the center – if it comes out clean with a few crumbs, the cake is done.

  7. Cooling the Cakes: Let the cakes cool in the pans for 5 minutes before carefully inverting them onto wire racks to cool completely.

  8. While the Cakes Cool, Make the Coconut-Pecan Frosting: In a saucepan, combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, egg yolks, and evaporated milk. Bring the mixture to a low boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens slightly.

  9. Adding the Finishing Touches: Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, chopped pecans, and shredded coconut. Allow the frosting to cool completely before assembling the cake.

  10. Creating the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting: In a separate bowl, melt the butter. Whisk in