preheat the oven to 350*
1 cup water
1/3 cup Hershey's Cocoa
2 sticks of real salted butter
Put in a pot on low/medium heat, and leave it there as you are doing the next steps. Check on it every few minutes, so that just as the butter melts you can move it to a place where it can cool, and stir it a few times to blend it all really well.
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon Baking Soda (orange box)
1 teaspoon salt
Put in one of those plastic bags from the produce section and shake well. It kind of sifts the flour.
1 teaspoon Extract PURE vanilla (don't get the cheap stuff)
Put the eggs in a bowl; add the vanilla and beat well.
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vinegar or, even BETTER juice of half a lemon
Put the milk in the measuring cup and add the lemon juice then stir just once. Leave it aside.
In a giant bowl put the flour mix in...then slowly stir in the cooled cocoa/water/butter...then stir in the milk/lemon juice. Stir all of this very well. Then you have to quickly stir in the egg mixture. You have to do it fast so that the heat from the cocoa water doesn't cook the eggs. Set the bowl aside.
Grease 2 9" cake pans or whatever you are going to use. You have to make sure the shortening covers the pan really well...especially in the corners and grooves. Then dust the pans liberally with cocoa powder. You can use flour, but it leaves white powder on the cake and it doesn't look good.
Bake for 30 minutes on 350*. Put the pans in the center rack evenly spaced in the oven. When pans are too close the cakes come out lopsided. Pat the center of the cake to make sure it springs back up. if it doesn't put it back in for 5 more minutes.
1/2 cup cocoa
4 cups powdered sugar
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Melt the butter in a large pot over low heat. Add the cocoa, milk and vanilla. Stir well. Add the salt and stir well, then...slowly add one cup of powdered sugar at a time and stir in completely. Then turn the heat off and taste it. Adjust to your liking. Then let it cool as the cakes come out of the oven. DO NOT cool the cakes completely before you frost them or they will tear apart (I learned this the hard way!). Let the cakes cool about 10 minutes, then take the cake pans and smack 'em on the counter a few times on the bottom and the sides, to make sure the cake comes completely loose from the pan. Put strips of paper, or foil on the bottom of the plate you are going to use to serve the cake, in the shape if a triangle. Put the cake over the paper triangle then frost the top of it in a really really thick layer (the cake will absorb most of it - that's why it has to be thick). Then put the next cake on top of the first one and frost the top of it. If the frosting is warm enough it will run down the sides, and you want that. Just use a butter knife to spread it around the sides evenly. Pour more frosting on the top and keep spreading it out and on the sides. It takes a while to frost a cake well so go slow and be patient. The warmth of the frosting makes it seal the moisture in the cake once it cools, so the cake stays delicious for days when others get dry overnight. After it's frosted very gently pull the pieces of paper away from under the cake. This leaves a perfectly clean surface.