Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake with My Favorite Buttercream Icing

Folks, today we’re sharing a favorite dessert of ours is an old-fashioned chocolate cake with a buttercream icing.

This is a great recipe to whip up anytime, but we’re also going to walk you through some tips for cooking this in a Dutch oven with coals. We want you to have faith that you can bake in a Dutch oven, so with a few tips you’ll have the confidence to practice. And be sure to watch our how-to video below for even more in-depth information. 

Let’s get to it!

Tip 1: Pick a Dutch Oven

There are a variety of Dutch oven sizes to choose from. 10″ is a good size, but as the cake rises it will get very close to the lid. When that happens, you have a good chance of burning the top, the bottom but being raw in the middle.  

A 12″ shallow (6qt) is a great starter oven size because you can make a variety of things in it. This would be a good choice because it has more room to expand than the 10″ However, the best size to choose for baking a cake in a Dutch oven if you haven’t had a lot of practice is a 12″ deep (8qt).

The deeper oven allows more room from the top of the cake to the lid where your coals are sitting. You’ll be less likely to burn the top and get a more even cooking. 

Tip 2: Use a Trivet

The more moisture a dish has in it, the slower you want to cook it so you’ll get a more even bake. A trivet (along with coal placement) is essentially the heat knob for a Dutch oven. When baking something with a lot of moisture I like to use a lower heat, so I’ll place the oven on a tall trivet (5.5″). If you don’t have a trivet, see coal placement tip below. 

For the trivets we use click HERE

Tip 3: Placing the Coals

When you’re placing the coals, remember to sift the ash out ’cause ash doesn’t cook, it insulates. That’s why we use this shovel with holes in it. 

Puta light ring of coals around the outside edge of the bottom of the oven, nothing directly underneath. You’ll also put a lighter amount on top. One of my biggest tips in Dutch oven cooking is you can always add coals to an oven, but you can’t take them away after your dish has burned.

If you don’t have a trivet, you’ll want to widen the bottom circle around the oven more. 

Tip 4: Regulate the Heat

You gotta make sure that your heat is good. If you can’t hold your hand above the coals (about a hand width away) for more than 5 seconds, it’s not hot enough, so you’ll need to add more coals. If you’re using a good hardwood, this shouldn’t be a problem. 

As it cooks along your heat will burn out a bit. Instead of adding more coals to it, move the coals on the bottom closer toward the oven to increase the heat level.

Tip 5: Target the Heat

When you check it and see that it looks done on the outside edges, but there’s a little jiggle in the middle, you need to target a little heat. To do this simple rake most of the coals away from the outside bottom and place a few directly under the oven. Move a few coals directly on the top of the lid in the middle too. This will target the heat in the middle and help that cake finish.

You can target heat at any place on the oven that needs more direct heat. 

Tip 6: When is the Cake Done?

One way you can tell this cake is getting done is when there’s separation on the outside edge. Any baked good will pull slightly from the outside edge and pull in. This is a good sign that it’s getting close to being done on the bottom. 

We hope these quick tips help give you more confidence when baking in a Dutch oven, especially a cake. Don’t forget to check out the video because we go more in-depth with instruction and tips.

Whip up this chocolate cake, invite the neighbors over and show them what a great Dutch oven baker you are!



Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake - Cowboy Kent Rollins


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1/4 heaping cup cocoa
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  • Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly butter and flour a 9-x-13-inch baking pan, 2, 9-inch round cake pans or a 12-inch Dutch oven.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and baking soda.
  • In a small saucepan combine the water, butter and cocoa. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Let boil for 30 seconds.
  • Slowly whisk the cocoa mixture into the flour mixture. Whisk in the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla.
  • Pour the batter into the pan(s). Bake for about 25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool to room temperature before removing from the pan and icing with the Buttercream icing (below)
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Buttercream Icing - Cowboy Kent Rollins


  • 1 1/2 cups milk or heavy cream
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 sticks butter softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  • In a saucepan heat the cream and flour over medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue to cook until the mixture reaches a thick paste consistency. Remove from the heat and place in the icebox or freezer until chilled (do not freeze).
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until smooth. Whisk in the vanilla.
  • Remove the flour mixture from the icebox/freezer and beat until smooth. Add it to the sugar mixture and beat on high until it is extremely smooth.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!