Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Fan ovens 325°F or 160°C.
Grease two 8 or 9 inch round cake tins. Line the bottom of the pans with greaseproof paper. Or grease or line two 12 hole muffin pans.
Using an electric mixer cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in the vanilla.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt together.
Add the sifted flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt to the batter alternately with the milk, using two additions of dry ingredients and two of milk.
Beat for about thirty seconds.
Divide the mixture between the cake tins or muffin cups and bake for 20 - 25 minutes for cakes or 12 to 15 minutes for cupcakes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cakes comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and cool in the pans for 5 to 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.