Hey guys! I hope you’re having great weekends full of cookies and cake and sunshine like we are. I’ve been asking you guys on Instagram what recipes you want to see next, and a lot of people asked for a small-batch chocolate cake recipe with frosting, so here we are! And good choice!

This is a small version of one of my favorite chocolate cake recipes. It’s super simple, and it doesn’t use any dairy or eggs in the cake itself. The thing I love about this cake is that I pretty much always have the ingredients in my house to make it, and then it can be frosted with whatever you’ve got.

The frosting I’m using today though is SO good and really simple. It’s a play on American buttercream, which is traditionally just butter and powdered sugar. We’re adding in some sour cream, along with cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and salt. It turns into something truly beautiful, creamy, and silky. Perfect for this cake!

How to Make Small-Batch Chocolate Cake

Let’s start with the cake on this one. This cake recipe is super simple, so it comes together really fast. You just stir together all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl- that’s the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

Then, stir together the wet ingredients in a measuring cup. That’s the water, oil, vanilla extract, and white vinegar. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and whisk until you’ve got a smooth mixture. That’s it! Pour the batter into a greased and parchment lined loaf pan, and bake!

For the frosting, it’s really just as simple. Beat together the butter and sour cream to combine, and then add in the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and salt. Beat together until you have a smooth, creamy mixture. If it’s not stiff enough, just add another tablespoon of powdered sugar. It should be thick, but still very creamy and spreadable.

Cool the cake completely in the pan, and then remove and peel away the parchment paper. Frost generously with the frosting, and slice into about 5 pieces. Enjoy!

3.67 from 3 votes

Small-Batch Chocolate Cake


For the Cake:

  • 3/4 cup +2 tbs flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tbs. dark cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tbs. canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. white vinegar

For the Frosting:

  • 4 tbs. softened butter
  • 3 tbs. sour cream
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tbs. dark cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp. salt


For the Cake:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray, and line with parchment paper with overhang to help remove the cake after baking. Set aside. 

  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl, stir together the water, oil, vanilla extract, and vinegar. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and whisk together until smooth and combined. 

  3. Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan and spread evenly. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before removing from the pan and frosting. 

For the Frosting:

  1. In a medium bowl, beat together the butter and sour cream to combine. Add in the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt. Beat for several minutes, until completely combined and smooth. It should be thick, but still creamy and spreadable. Add more powdered sugar 1 tablespoon at a time if it's too thin. Spread on the cooled cake generously, and slice to serve! 


  1. Dianne

    May 26, 2020 at 1:17 pm

    1 star
    I was excited to try a high altitude cake as I am at 8200 feet. It looked beautiful in the oven but sank when I took it out after a full 20 minutes. We had to put ice cream and hot chocolate sauce on it to make it edible as it was so dry and crumbly. I wonder if there is something missing in the recipe??

    • Dough-Eyed

      May 26, 2020 at 11:32 pm

      Hi there! Nothing missing, but I am a little lower than you at 5,000 ft. I would add another tablespoon of water and 1 tbs more flour, I think that will help you!

  2. Victoria Baldwin

    August 14, 2020 at 2:45 am

    5 stars
    Loved this cake. Made it tonight with my 10 y.o. son who loves to cook, and it came together really easily and quickly. Maybe my oven runs cold, but I had to cook it an extra 10 min for the toothpick to come out clean. I live at 5,400' and the cake was perfectly moist. Can't wait to try another small-batch dessert!

    • Dough-Eyed

      August 19, 2020 at 2:37 am

      So glad to hear it!! This is definitely one of my favs!!

  3. Madhumitha

    September 10, 2020 at 11:08 am

    Hi Nicole ,
    Definitely going to try this recipe , can 1/2 cup of water be substituted for 1/2 cup of milk in the recipe ?

    • Dough-Eyed

      September 11, 2020 at 2:17 am

      Hi there! Yes, you can absolutely sub milk!

  4. Katie

    December 4, 2020 at 7:36 pm

    5 stars
    This was perfect! Had a craving for cake and this only took about 5 minutes active cooking time and then ~20 minutes in the oven. Tasted amazing, I did decrease the sugar by about 1/3 but I do that for almost every recipe from anywhere. It looked very thin in my loaf pan, but puffed up nicely (I live at 5400') and made 4 generous servings.

    • Dough-Eyed

      December 7, 2020 at 6:17 pm

      So glad to hear you liked it! And I'm glad to know it worked well with the sugar reduction as well!!


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