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Chocolate Layer Cake with Tangy Sumac Buttercream

Chocolate Layer Cake with Tangy Sumac Buttercream

You might be surprised to find that tangy Sumac is amazing in desserts.  For this recipe I made a chocolate layer cake and flavored the buttercream frosting with the sumac.  So good!

To make this cake dairy free you can substitute the buttermilk with your choice of dairy free milk mixed with a tablespoon of lemon juice.  You can use vegan stick butter and dairy free milk in the frosting. 

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

  • Duration
  • Cook Time
  • Prep Time
  • 8Servings


For the cake

  • 1¾  cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1¾  cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups buttermilk, room temperature

For the sumac buttercream

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk, room temperature
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2½ tablespoons Jamie Geller Sumac


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and position a rack in the center. Thoroughly grease two 9” round cake pans (don’t skimp here!) or use the 5-piece set shown here for a mini cake with more layers, then dust each pan with a light coating of flour, tapping out the excess.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the oil, eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk for about a minute. Incrementally add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing on low until just combined.
  3. Evenly distribute the batter between your pans—I like to fill the pans only ¾ of the way full to avoid overflow and/or overly domed cakes—then bake. Two 9” cakes will need 22-27 minutes; the smaller cake pans linked above should be done within 17-22. You’ll know the cakes are done when a toothpick inserted into the center of each one comes out clean (all ovens are slightly different, so keep an eye on your cakes!).
  4. Once out of the oven, allow the cakes to cool for at least 10 minutes in the pan, then carefully invert and release from the pan onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting. You don’t want the frosting to melt!

For the sumac buttercream:

  1. Make the buttercream: In the bowl of a stand mixer or using a handheld mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until light in color and creamy in consistency. Add the sugar on low speed, then add in the milk, and vanilla and kick up the speed. At this point, I like to reserve about ¼ cup of frosting for my eventual floral decorations; to the frosting that’s left in the mixing bowl, I add the ground sumac and mix to combine once more.
  2. Assemble the cake: Use a serrated knife to “level” the top of each cake, making the tower easier to stack. Top each layer generously with the sumac frosting.
  3. For the flower garnish (optional): Divide the remaining frosting evenly between two bowls, then add a few drops of blue and green coloring to each, respectively, and whisk to reveal the new colors. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag or plastic sandwich bag (if using a sandwich bag, use scissors to snip a very small hole off of one of the corners). Pipe the glaze over each of the cakes to create tiny flower decorations (a simple “asterisk” shape with a dotted center), serve, and enjoy!