To complete this How-To you will need:
1 tbsp. butter
2 c. granulated sugar
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
3/4 c. cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1 c. reduced-fat milk
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. hot water or hot coffee
Two nine-inch round baking pans
A large mixing bowl
A wooden spoon
A hand mixer
A toothpick, fork, or knife
A cooling rack
Step 1: Prepare the oven and pans
Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease the two baking pans with butter, and lightly dust the pans with flour. Set aside.
Step 2: Prepare the chocolate mixture
In the mixing bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with the wooden spoon until they're well combined.
Step 3: Make the chocolate batter
Crack the eggs into the mixture and add the milk and oil. Beat on medium speed for one to two minutes until smooth.
Step 4: Mix in vanilla and water or coffee
Add the vanilla to the chocolate batter and beat on slow speed for one minute. Pour the hot water into the mixture and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon.
Step 5: Bake the cake layers
Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans for 30 to 35 minutes until the center is slightly firm.
Step 6: Toothpick test
Because baking times vary slightly depending on ovens and elevations, do the toothpick test: Insert a toothpick into the center of the cake; when it comes up clean, without any batter or crumbs sticking to it, the cake is done.
Tip: If you don't have a toothpick, use a fork or knife instead.
Step 7: Cool the cake
Place the cake pans on a cooling rack and let them cool for 15 to 20 minutes. Invert the pans onto the rack and let the cake cool completely, about two hours. Put the layers on a cake stand or plate before frosting or serving. Enjoy!