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State Fair Chocolate Cake

The Oregon State Fair Chocolate Cake Contest

My Great-Great-Grandfather Samuel Ransom Slayton, was a proud farmer with land in the fertile valley surrounding Prineville in central Oregon. Beginning in the late 1800s, each summer he traveled 150 miles west to Salem by wagon to compete at the Oregon State Fair in Salem.  And that's where our story about the Oregon State Fair Chocolate Cake Contest begins.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword cakes, chocolate cake, Dessert, Pastry
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 8 servings
Author David Ross


For the Cake-

  • 2 ¼ cups cake flour
  • 1 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup cold strong coffee
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon Cointreau orange liqueur
  • cooking spray with flour

For the Frosting-

  • 3 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup regular cocoa powder
  • 12 tablespoon softened butter
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon Cointreau orange liqueur


Make and Bake the Cake-

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350. Cut-out parchment rounds to the inside size of the cake pans.  Spray the pans with cooking spray with flour then add the parchment round and spray it.

  2. Add the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt to a mixer bowl and whisk to combine. Mix in the brown sugar.

  3. In a separate bowl stir together the buttermilk, oil, coffee, eggs, vanilla and Cointreau. Add to the dry mixture and blend on low speed until the batter is creamy and smooth.

  4. Pour the cake batter into the pans and bake for 30-35 minutes. The cakes are done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cake pans and let them cool for 15 minutes on a baking rack. Turn the cakes out of the pans and let cool on the rack to room temperature.

Make the Frosting and Frost the Cakes-

  1. In the mixer blend together the powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Add the butter, milk, vanilla and Cointreau and beat until the frosting is smooth and creamy. If the frosting is too thick, add a little more milk.

  2. Spread a layer of frosting on top of one of the cake rounds. Add the next layer, and spread a layer of frosting on top and then spread frosting around the edges of the cake.

    A Slice of Chocolate Cake
  3. To store the cake, we use a covered container like Tupperware. Place the cake on the base and cover with the lid and seal. Store the cake at room temperature.

    State Fair Chocolate Cake

Recipe Notes

You can bake the cake layers a day ahead.  Just cover with plastic wrap and place in a gallon bag and store on the counter.  You can also freeze the cake layers and frost at a later time.