Step 1: Bake the cakes...
3/4 cup unsweetened, dark cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup warm water with 1 tsp instant espresso diluted in it
3/4 cup buttermilk (i make my own using milk and vinegar)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line standard tins. Sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla, and mix until smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well mixed.
Divide batter evenly among cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake until tops dome, about 20-22 minutes.
Step 2: Ice with a fluffy vanilla buttercream, I used a wide tube to pipe a ring on each cake
3 sticks unsalted, room temp butter
3 1/2 - 4 cups confectionery sugar
1 tbs vanilla extract
Begin whipping butter in a stand mixer until fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Gradually add in sugar until desired consistency is met for piping. Add vanilla and mix again until incorporated. Pipe onto cooled cakes.