Cake with German Chocolate Layers

This luscious, scratch-made german chocolate layer cake is filled with coconut pecan filling and topped with rich german chocolate buttercream frosting. It’s the ideal chocolate cake recipe for any celebration or birthday.

I’ve been requested to write a recipe for German chocolate cake a few times, but I’ve always declined.

Nonetheless, I believe the motivations were primarily selfish. I’m allergic to pecans, and German chocolate cake contains a coconut pecan filling, plus I like tasting my own baked goods.

(Well, let’s be honest: I love eating my own cakes, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat any of this one.) I realize it sounds self-centered.

But I knew folks would want my version, so I pulled on my big girl pants and started crackin’. I developed my own version of German chocolate cake and tried it out more times than I can count.

Hello there! Before you browse, there’s a lot of vital information in this article! includes the FAQ section, which may help you with any queries you have regarding this recipe. Enjoy!

I could taste the cake itself but not the filling (which has the pecans in it).

Nevertheless, after many attempts, I believe I’ve gotten it to taste just like I want it to, and it creates just the correct quantity for the pans. (There was too much batter the first two of times.)

You’ll also use it in the buttercream—Really it’s good.

Cake Flour: We used cake flour in this cake because I adore how it creates such a light crumb; the cake texture simply seems softer. If you can’t find cake flour, be sure you read the FAQ section below.

Cocoa Powder: A pinch of cocoa powder will be added to both the cake and the buttercream to offer a burst of chocolate flavor. Use normal cocoa powder rather than Dutch cocoa powder.

Brown Sugar: Instead of using just white sugar, I added some brown sugar to the cake. I personally prefer brown sugar in chocolate cakes because it gives depth and richness.

Buttermilk: This cake has buttermilk, and I like baking with it. It’s rich, has a high fat level, and adds a lot of flavor to the cake. (If you are unable to get it, please see the FAQ section below.)

Mixing Method Notes:

Let’s take a moment to discuss the cake’s mixing process. We’ll employ the reverse creaming procedure. It simply means that instead of creaming the butter and sugar together first, you will combine the dry ingredients, then mix in the butter to coat it before adding the liquid components.

Don’t worry, there’s nothing to worry about. In fact, I prefer to use this mixing approach rather than the traditional creaming process, and the recipe instructions will walk you through it (plus there’s a video).

Why am I making this cake using the reverse creaming method?

  • That appeals to me since it is simple to implement.
  • You may add extra liquid and sugar (its good for high ratio recipes)
  • It seems to provide a softer-textured cake.

One thing to keep in mind while employing the reverse creaming procedure is that these cake layers will bake up flat. There will be no dome in the center. Don’t be concerned that you did anything wrong.

I’ve made this a few times and it always bakes through, but it doesn’t puff up in the centre, so don’t be concerned.

Tips & FAQs:

So what makes a cake a German chocolate cake and not regular chocolate cake?

For starters, we’re utilizing German chocolate in this one. There are other German chocolate cake recipes that don’t utilize German sweet chocolate, but I’ve discovered that most recipes use buttermilk and the quantity of chocolate isn’t as dark and rich as a traditional chocolate cake.

I can’t find German sweet chocolate, what do I do?

The German sweet chocolate adds a particular touch to the cake and buttercream, but if you can’t locate it, you may substitute semi-sweet or even milk chocolate.

Can I substitute the buttermilk?

You certainly can. If at all feasible, use buttermilk if you can find it. If you can’t find it, fill a measuring cup halfway with milk, then take out one tablespoon of the milk and replace it with either vinegar or lemon juice. Let it to settle for about five minutes before using it in lieu of the buttermilk.

Can I substitute the cake flour?

You’ll get the greatest results if you use cake flour, but if you can’t find it, you may replace all-purpose flour and make the following changes: Replace one cup of cake flour with one cup of all-purpose flour and two teaspoons of cornstarch for every cup of cake flour called for in the recipe.

Why use regular natural cocoa powder and why not the dutch processed cocoa powder?

Natural cocoa powder is acidic, but Dutch cocoa powder has all of the acids neutralized. The cake recipe asks for baking soda, and baking soda need acid to function properly. The buttermilk and brown sugar both contain some acid. You want to maintain all of the ratios in sync. If you reduce or vary the quantity of an ingredient, the ratios may be thrown off, and your cake may not taste right or have an uneven texture.

Make sure you’re not packing down the cake flour.

While measuring flour, do not overfill your measuring cup. Fill your measuring cup halfway with flour and level it off.

When preparing the coconut pecan filling, it’s essential that you go slow.

If you heat it too quickly, the eggs will scramble and you will have fried egg fragments in your filling. This will take some time, so please be patient. If you don’t want to hassle with creating the filling from scratch, you may always purchase it ready-made. There is no condemnation here.

There are affiliate links in this post. I earn money as an Amazon Associate by making qualifying purchases.

Supplies Used:

  • KitchenAid Stand Mixer
  • KitchenAid Glass Bowl
  • German Dark Chocolate
  • Accessory for a Flat Beater
  • 8 cake pans, round
  • Refrigeration Racks

Let’s get started with the recipe!

***I write recipes in volume (cup) measures since that is what people in the United States are accustomed to seeing and using. Click the metric button beneath the ingredients in the recipe card to get weight in metric measures. The weights are converted by a software, not by me, and the results are an educated approximation. Please keep in mind that while I prepare recipes in cups, I cannot guarantee that weighing the components will provide the same results.


German Chocolate Layer Cake

A moist, from scratch German chocolate layer cake that’s filled with coconut pecan filling, then covered in rich German chocolate buttercream.

***I publish recipes in volume (cup) measures since that is what people are accustomed to seeing and using in the United States. Click the metric button beneath the ingredients in the recipe card to convert weight to metric measures. The weights are converted by a software rather than by me, and it is an educated assumption. Please keep in mind that while I create my recipes in cups, I cannot guarantee that weighing the components will provide the same results.

***I write recipes in volume (cups) measures since that is what people in the United States are accustomed to seeing and using. Click the metric button beneath the ingredients in the recipe card for weight in metric units. The weights are converted by a software, not by me, and it is a best approximation. Please keep in mind that while I prepare recipes in cups, I cannot guarantee that weighing the components will provide the same results.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: german chocolate layer cake
Prep Time: 1hour15minutes
Cook Time: 1hour10minutes
Total Time: 2hours25minutes
Servings: 12servings
Calories: 1297kcal


For the cake:

  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour (see FAQ section in post if you cant get cake flour)
  • natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not dutch processed)
  • 1 cup sugar, granulated
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • teaspoonsalt
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1cupbuttermilk
  • a cup of normal milk (whole milk is best here)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • three huge eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pound unsalted butter (slightly cooler than room temperature)
  • 4 oz. melted sweetened Germans chocolate (I used Bakers brand)

For the coconut pecan filling:

  • three egg yolks
  • a cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • butter cupunsalted (1 stick)
  • 112 oz. evaporated cane milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut (can use an additional cup coconut to make filling thicker)
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped

For the frosting:

  • 1 pound unsalted butter (room temp)
  • 1 pound salted butter (room temp-see instructions if you do not have access to salted butter)
  • 6 c. confectioners sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 oz Germans chocolate, sweetened (I used Bakers brand)
  • 3tablespoonsmilk (may put in additional tablespoon if required) (can add in another tablespoon if needed)


For the cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Set aside two 8-inch round (2-inch-deep) cake pans that have been greased and floured.
  • Melt the sweet German chocolate in a small dish in the microwave. Put this aside to chill while you prepare the rest of the cake ingredients.
  • Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing basin.
  • In a separate dish, combine the buttermilk, ordinary milk, oil, eggs, and extract. Set away after thoroughly whisking.
  • Check to see whether the butter is slightly colder than room temperature. Slowly incorporate the butter (in pieces) into the dry ingredients while mixing on medium-low speed. (You may use a hand mixer or set your stand mixer on medium-low and leave it on while you add the butter pieces a little at a time.)
  • Mix on medium until all of the flour is covered with the butter and the mixture is crumbly. It will be sand-like in texture.
  • Pour in about half of the liquid mixture. For approximately a minute, mix on low to medium.
  • Pour in the remaining liquid mixture and stir just until fully blended. At this time, avoid overmixing the batter. Mixing it for many minutes is excessive. Stop mixing after all of the ingredients have been well combined.
  • Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Stir for approximately 10 seconds more.
  • Mix in the melted chocolate until it is barely blended.
  • Pour into the prepared baking pans. Because of the brown sugar, the batter may seem gritty; this is OK.
  • Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 55-60 minutes. With a dome on top, these layers will not bake. They will bake completely flat. Don’t worry if the layers don’t puff out in the centre; this is normal.
  • Let the cakes on wire racks to cool for 10-15 minutes after baking, then flip them out onto the racks and allow them cool fully before adding filling and icing.

For the filling:

  • Combine the egg yolks, sugars, butter, and evaporated milk in a medium saucepan. Bring it slowly to a low boil, then reduce to a simmer for approximately 10 minutes, or until it thickens. Please be patient with this section. Take as much time as you can and cook it gently. If you overheat it, your eggs will scramble and your filling will become chunky. Increase the heat in small increments. After it has cooked and thickened somewhat, remove from the heat and whisk in the essence, coconut, and pecans. Put it aside to come to room temperature before adding it to the cake.

For the frosting:

  • Set aside to cool after melting the delicious German chocolate.
  • If you have a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment. If not, just use a whisk attachment or a hand mixer.
  • On medium speed, cream the butter well.
  • Beat in the cocoa on low until blended, then on medium until thoroughly integrated. Scrape down the edges of the basin and stir one more.
  • Pour in 3 cups powdered sugar. Beat on low until blended, then on medium until completely integrated.
  • Add 2 tablespoons milk and the remaining 3 cups powdered sugar. Beat on low until blended, then on medium until completely integrated. Scrape down the edges of the basin, then stir one more. (If it’s still too thick, add another tablespoon or two of milk and stir.)
  • Pour in the vanilla essence and the cooled melted chocolate. Beat until thoroughly combined.
  • Assess the consistency of your buttercream, and if it’s still too thick, add a tablespoon of milk at a time, mixing after each addition.
  • Mix on medium-high for several minutes to get a fluffier frosting.


This cake will need to be kept in the refrigerator if you add the filling. It can be frozen for up to a month if wrapped well in plastic wrap and foil.Nutritional values are an estimate.Make sure to check out the TIPS & FAQs for this recipe in the blog post.*This recipe card may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.


Calories: 1297kcal | Carbohydrates: 151g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 77g | Saturated Fat: 45g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 21g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 236mg | Sodium: 437mg | Potassium: 371mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 123g | Vitamin A: 1840IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 127mg | Iron: 3mg

Additional Recipes You May Enjoy:

  • Cake with Chocolate and Butter
  • One-Bowl Triple Chocolate Cake
  • Cake with Milk Chocolate Chips

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What makes a German chocolate cake different?

Chocolate Cake from Germany

German chocolate is the only one of these three cakes that uses melted chocolate instead of cocoa powder for taste. In reality, its name is derived from Sam German, who created a sweet baking chocolate for the Boston-based Baker’s chocolate firm.

What is the difference between German chocolate cake and chocolate cake mix?

Anyway, here’s a short rundown of the distinctions: Milk chocolate flavoring is added to a conventional chocolate cake mix. A devil’s food cake is darker and richer, with a distinct chocolate taste. German chocolate (a favorite in south Texas) is often a lighter-colored cake with a modest chocolate taste.

What is German chocolate cake called?

Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate, the product’s brand name, was named in his honor. On June 3, 1957, The Dallas Morning News featured a recipe for “German’s Chocolate Cake” as the “Recipe of the Day.” Mrs. George Clay, a housewife from 3831 Academy Drive in Dallas, Texas, designed it.

Is German chocolate cake just a chocolate cake?

What exactly is German Chocolate Cake? German chocolate cake is a tiered chocolate cake (often two to three layers) prepared with sweet baking chocolate and buttermilk. It’s filled and topped with a pecan, coconut, and evaporated milk icing.

Why does my German chocolate cake fall apart?

Inadequate or Excessive Moisture

If your cake isn’t moist enough, the middle may sink. But, too much moisture might spoil a cake. This is especially common in humid settings, where additional moisture may naturally gather in products like wheat.

What is the cake filling that is often used in German bakeries?

Buttercream from Germany

This Buttercream is well-known in German bakeries for its richness.

What is special about German chocolate cake?

This cake is generally baked with a sweet chocolate and has a unique frosting. Instead of standard buttercream or meringue, the frosting is reminiscent of custard. The foundation is constructed of egg yolks and evaporated milk, and it must always include pecans and coconut.

Does Duncan Hines have a German chocolate cake mix?

Duncan Hines® German Chocolate Cake Mix makes it simple to prepare delectable chocolate-filled german chocolate cakes, brownies, and cookies.

Does Duncan Hines have a German chocolate cake?

Cake mix that is perfectly moist. Crafted with dark chocolate. Excellent for sheet cakes, layer cakes, cupcakes, and other confections. Try Duncan Hines® Coconut Pecan Frosting on top of German chocolate cake.

What is the most famous German cake?

We can never thank the Germans enough for the Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (also known as Black Forest gâteau or Black Forest cake in other areas of the globe).

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