Triple Layer Chocolate Cake with Ganache Icing

The title says it all. It’s a fudgy triple layer chocolate cake with ganache icing. It’s a must-bake cake if you’re a chocolate lover. And, bonus, mr. uglyducklingbakery and I think this cake might actually taste better after it’s been carefully frozen and defrosted.

The story behind this cake

This is the second of the birthday cake recipes for my 50th birthday cake-a-palooza in May. Cake #1 was the tiramisu cake (all the goodness of tiramisu without raw egg).

This triple layer chocolate cake was also created for the reddit 52 weeks of baking challenge. It’s been a fun few weeks since the signature bake in week 12 when I posted the purple cow bread. And, yes, I know I skipped posting my Week 13 (enriched breads) babka-fail. I’ll come back to it, I promise.

a slice of triple layer chocolate cake with chocolate ganache icing

The instructions for the Week 14 Childhood Favorite are to share the memory that goes along with your bake. I don’t have a lot of childhood memories of baked goods. My maternal grandmother was supposedly a great baker, but I mostly remember the Linzer cookies she brought from the city when she came to visit us. My mother baked a few things – banana bread. Brownies. An apple or pecan pie for Thanksgiving. But every birthday, she would make a chocolate cake from scratch.

Sadly I don’t know where her recipe came from. I’m jealous of all of folks who have recipes that have been passed down for generations. I have all of my mother’s cookbooks, but she only infrequently left notes. As I cook and bake, I’m leaving all sorts of fingerprints for my kiddo to read in the future.

Tips and tricks for this triple layer chocolate cake

This cake is only slightly adapted from the Epicurious double chocolate layer cake. The biggest adaptation is the change from two 10″ diameter cake pans to three 9″ pans. That required calculating the area of a circle and an increase in the amount of chocolate ganache icing by 1.5x because of the extra layer. No one is complaining.

I also melt the chocolate for both the cake layers and the icing in a double boiler because I feel I have more control that way. Don’t wash it in between.

It’s a liquidly cake batter that bakes for a long-ish time at a low-ish temperature. As a result, the layers bake tops so perfectly flat that they make even my decorating skills look decent. Mr. uglyducklingbakery requests this cake for his birthday every year.

6 panels showing how to remove chocolate cake layers from the cake pan

In order to remove the cake from the cake pan (panel #1), gently run a thin knife or spatula around the cake. Place a wire cooling rack upside down on top of the cake (panel #2). Turn the rack and cake pan over (panel #3). Tap gently on the cake pan to get it to release from the pan (panel #4). Peel off the parchment paper (panels #5 and #6), and then carefully invert the cake layer onto your cake stand.

FAQs about this triple layer chocolate cake with chocolate ganache icing

Do I have to weigh out my ingredients?

Do you have to do anything? No. But there is so much variation in how people measure that you are much more likely to get a reliable result if you weigh your ingredients.

Can I make this in two 9 inch pans and divide the layers in half?

That is likely to result in the layers over-rising the pans – you can see from my pic that they were close to the top. If you only have two pans, you would want to bake 2/3rds of the batter, let the cakes and pans cool, and then bake the third layer.

Can you freeze chocolate cake with ganache icing?

Absolutely, especially if you decorate the cake simply like I do. After the cake has been in the refrigerator overnight, I cut the cake into family sized portions. I double-wrap each piece in plastic wrap and then place it in a plastic bag with as much air removed as possible. When you want to eat a piece, remove it from the refrigerator, unwrap it and put it on a plate, and let it come to room temperature before serving. We actually think this cake tastes even better after being frozen and defrosted than it does baked fresh.

What do I do with extra icing?

If you’re like me and you like only a thin layer of frosting on the cake, you might end up with extra icing. You can freeze frostings and have a variety for a batch of cupcakes. Or use extra frosting for cake balls or cake pops the next time you have a cake failure. Because they happen to all of us.

three chocolate cake layers in cake pans

Fudgy triple layer chocolate cake with ganache icing

Servings 12
Calories 1019kcal
Author uglyducklingbakery


Triple cake layers

  • butter for greasing cake pans
  • 3 oz semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled to touch
  • 2 ½ cups (312g) bleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups (144g) unsweetened cocoa powder plus extra for dusting cake pans
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups (600g) granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ cup coffee, cooled
  • 1 ½ cup buttermilk
  • ¾ cup neutral vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Chocolate ganache icing

  • 1 ½ lb semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1 ½ cup heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp corn syrup
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into cubes and softened


Triple cake layers

  • Preheat the oven to 300°F.
  • Lightly butter three 9" cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the paper. Use unsweetened cocoa powder to "flour" the pans and set aside.
    butter, 1 1/2 cups (144g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl.
    2 1/2 cups (312g) bleached, all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 cups (144g) unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 tsp baking powder, 3/4 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt
  • In a bowl of a stand mixer or large bowl if using a hand mixer, beat the eggs on medium speed until pale yellow (3-5 minutes).
    3 eggs
  • Add the sugar and beat for a couple of minutes.
    3 cups (600g) granulated sugar
  • Add the cooled chocolate and mix, then add coffee, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla.
    3 oz semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled to touch, 1 1/2 cup buttermilk, 3/4 cup neutral vegetable oil, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 1/2 cup coffee, cooled
  • Add the dry ingredients and combine on low speed for 1 minute or by hand until just combined.
  • Divide equally into the prepared pans. Before putting them in the oven, knock them gingerly on the countertop once or twice to remove any air bubbles.
  • Bake for about 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the edges are just starting to pull away from the side of the pan.
  • Cool cake layers in the pan. You may need to run a spatula or knife around the edge of the cake pans to get the layers to release from the pan.

Chocolate ganache icing

  • Melt the chocolate in a double boiler and cool.
    1 1/2 lb semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • Combine the cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a small pan and heat just until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and cool.
    1 1/2 cup heavy cream, 3 tbsp granulated sugar, 3 tbsp corn syrup
  • When the chocolate and cream mixture have cooled to touch, put them into the bowl of your stand mixer or a mixing bowl and beat on medium speed. (I know it's hard to wait, but f you try to mix everything before they're cool, the icing still will be too thin to frost the cake.)
  • Add butter and beat to get a smooth, spreadable consistency
    6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into cubes and softened


Calories: 1019kcal | Carbohydrates: 119g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 59g | Saturated Fat: 28g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g | Monounsaturated Fat: 16g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 104mg | Sodium: 406mg | Potassium: 649mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 82g | Vitamin A: 753IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 160mg | Iron: 7mg

What’s next?

If you make this fudgy triple layer chocolate cake with ganache icing, please comment here or share a pic with me on Instagram!

Check out other recipes in the uglyducklingbakery cake archives like:
purple velvet cake
chocolate orange cake
chocolate peanut butter cake
blackberry lemon loaf
Earl Grey and lavender cake

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Previous challenges:
Week 1: New Year new recipe – blueberry galette
Week 2: seasonal – Smitten Kitchen’s grapefruit pound cake
Week 3: Great British Bake Off – Kate’s sticky toffee apple caramel cake
Week 4: Australia – sausage rolls
Week 5: bite sized – cookies
Week 6: Chinese New Year – mushroom bao
Week 7: new tool – baguette baker
Week 8: chocolate – chocolate peanut butter bonbons
Week 9: timed bake – under 1 hour! chocolate chip scones
Week 10: allergy/diet restriction – macarons
Week 11: quick breads – kale and cheese quick bread
Week 12: signature bake – purple cow bread
Week 13: enriched breads

Next week: Decoration Challenge: Monochrome

a chocolate cake decorated with chocolate ganache icing and pink candy hearts

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