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+ servings

A Naked Hibiscus Chocolate Cake

yield: 1 double layer 8-inch cake
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For the Chocolate Cake

  • 1 3/4 cups (8.75 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (14 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (2.25 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) freshly brewed hot coffee

For the Hibiscus Cream Cheese Frosting

    (makes around 2 cups, enough for a scantily-frosted cake)

    • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) water
    • 2 tablespoons dried hibiscus flowers
    • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick // 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 3 1/2 cups (14 ounces) confectioner's sugar, sifted (see baker's notes)
    • a pinch of kosher salt


    For the Chocolate Cake

    • Preheat the oven to 350 (F). Prepare two 8 inch round cake pans by spraying generously with cooking spray and lining the bottom of each pan with parchment paper circles. Spray the top of each parchment circle and set aside.
    • In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, 2 cups granulated sugar, 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Mix on low speed until thoroughly combined.
    • In a separate medium bowl, combine 1 cup buttermilk, 1/2 cup oil, 2 eggs, and 1 tablespoon vanilla. Whisk together gently until just combined.
    • With the mixer on its lowest speed, slowly add the wet ingredients (from the 3rd step) to the dry ingredients (from the 2nd step). Add 1 cup hot coffee. Continue stirring on low speed until just combined, before stopping the mixer and using a heatproof rubber spatula to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and mix into the batter. The batter will seem really liquidy, but again, this is normal.
    • Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center of each cake comes out with a few crumbs and the tops of each cake bounce with a spongelike texture when poked gently with your finger. When the cakes are ready, remove from the oven and let the cakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for 30 minutes, before turning out to cool. Remove parchment paper and allow the cakes to cool completely to room temperature.
    • Once the cakes are cooled to room temperature, wrap each layer in plastic wrap. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours before frosting.

    For the Hibiscus Cream Cheese Frosting

    • First, make the hibiscus tea. Bring 1/2 cup water to a boil in a small pot over high heat. Once the water is boiling, remove from heat and immediately add 2 tablespoons dried hibiscus flowers. Steep for at least 10 minutes — the longer you steep the tea, the darker your frosting will be. Take care not to get any of the tea on your clothes! It stains like crazy. After steeping, strain out the hibiscus flowers and discard.
    • In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together 8 ounces cream cheese and 1/2 cup unsalted butter on medium speed for around a minute, until fluffy and well combined. Gradually add 3 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar a quarter cup at a time until fully incorporated. Add a pinch of kosher salt, and beat on high speed for at least a minute. Lower the mixer to its lowest setting and slowly drizzle in the hibiscus tea one tablespoon at a time until the mixture is a pale pink. The more tea you add, the more flavorful and colorful the frosting will be.