What We’re Making: Wild West Bakery’s Signature Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Wild West Bakery Chocolate Cake

There are certain recipes that belong in everyone’s repertoire, classic crowd-pleasers that can be whipped up for a dinner party or special occasion. One such go-to is a decadent yet approachable chocolate cake, so when we stumbled across Jackson Hole, Wyoming-based Wild West Bakery’s version on Instagram, we immediately reached out to owner Lauren Gurney to see if she’d share her recipe with us. Here, the master baker—who pulls off amazing confections at altitude, no less—certified chocolatier, and medevac pilot (Gurney is the only National Guard Aeromedical Evacuation Pilot in the state of Wyoming) shares how to make Wild West Bakery’s signature chocolate cake at home.

Best of the Wild West Chocolate Cake

Yields one three-layer, six-inch cake


For the cake

  • 1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 4 oz dark chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature. (Baker’s note: I enjoy 70% dark chocolate, but you can use your chocolate of choice)

For the frosting

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt


To make the cake:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  2. Fold a large piece of parchment in fours and trace the bottom of a 6″ round cake pan, then cut around the shape.
  3. Press a parchment round into the bottom of each cake pan (keep the fourth for the next cake!), then butter and flour the sides of your three pans.
  4. In a medium bowl, sift together both flours, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  5. In a large bowl or kitchen mixer, cream sugar and butter on medium-high speed, until it’s light and fluffy, about three to five minutes.
  6. With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla. Next, add eggs, one at a time. Mix until combined, scraping the bowl as needed.
  7. On low speed, add 1/2 of the dry ingredients, followed by 1/2 of the buttermilk. Repeat. Mix until smooth, but do not over mix.
  8. Fold in the melted chocolate until combined.
  9. Divide the batter evenly between prepared cake pans—I weigh mine so each pan is even.
  10. Bake on middle oven rack for 30-35 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool for 20 minutes before flipping them onto a cooling rack or parchment paper. Remember to remove the parchment round from the bottom of each cake! After the cakes have cooled completely, get ready to fill and frost with your favorite flavors.

To make the frosting:

  1. In a large bowl or kitchen mixer, on medium speed, cream the butter until it’s smooth.
  2. Om medium-low speed, add the powdered sugar, and mix until combined.
  3. On medium-high speed, add the cream, vanilla extract, and salt, and mix until combined.

We topped our cake with sugared cranberries, but wildflowers (as seen in this photo from Wild West Bakery’s Instagram) are another lovely option, as are any fruit, herb, or flower that’s currently in season. In addition, we doubled the frosting for our cake; for a lightly frosted version (like the one seen on Wild West Bakery’s Instagram here), feel free to stick to the above proportions.

Recipe courtesy of Lauren Gurney, baker and owner of Wild West Bakery in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Wild West Bakery is featured in The Scout Guide Jackson Hole.