Devil’s Food Cake

  • Serves: Makes three 9-inch layers
  • Views: 22281
  • Comments: 35

photo by sugarpie, Premium Member © Sarah Phillips 

The devil's food cake, a rich, dark-chocolate dessert, was invented in America. It became popular after a printed recipe appeared at the turn of the last century and contains larger amounts of cocoa and fat compared with basic chocolate cakes. Fill and frost cake with Chocolate Custard Filling and Shiny Fudge Frosting.


Today's post! NY Times blog post:
Sept. 16, 2010 10:33 AM ET With Halloween approaching, what could be better to make than that American classic, a rich devil’s food cake? Though it might spook your guests, with its ample and sinful inclusion of chocolate (cocoa and fat). There’s lots of speculation about where the name "devil’s food" comes from; it is thought to have arisen amidst the cake's original appearance at the turn of the 20th century, when its reddish-mahogany color caused by the baking soda acting on the cocoa, was first observed. — Sarah Phillips, founder,, a baking advice and recipe site

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, such as Hershey's (do not use Dutch-processed cocoa)
1/2 cup hot water
3/4 cup cold water
2 3/4 cups sifted cake flour (sift onto a piece of waxed paper and then spoon into measuring cup and level to rim)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut in 1-inch cubes
1 cup superfine or regular sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed or 1 cup superfine or regular sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Fill: 1 recipe Chocolate Pudding Filling
Frost: 1 recipe Shiny Fudge Frosting

1. Position oven racks in the lower and upper third of the oven, and preheat it to 350 F.
Grease three 9-inch round layer pans and line the bottoms with greased parchment paper.

2. Sift the measured cocoa powder into a small bowl. Slowly add the hot water, and with a small whisk or fork, stir until smooth and well combined without any lumps. Then blend in the cold water and set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

4. Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, on low until softened. (If the butter is cold, it will warm quickly from the beaters - taking about 60 seconds).
Add the sugar in a steady stream at the side of the bowl.
Then add the brown sugar, a small clump at a time.
Increase speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes until light in color and fluffy.
Stop the mixer and scrape the side and bottom of the bowl with a large rubber spatula occasionally during mixing.

5. With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time and beat for 20 seconds after each addition.
Add the vanilla. After the eggs and vanilla have been added, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat the mixture for 2 minutes. Set the kitchen timer to help you keep track of the time.
The mixture will become fluffy and aerated.

7. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in 3 equal portions, alternating with the cocoa liquid, in 2 equal portions, beginning and ending with the flour.

Add the flour and liquid ingredients in increments quickly; do not wait in between additions too long as you don't want to overmix the batter.

After completing the last addition of flour, stop the mixer, and scrape the side and bottom of the bowl with a large rubber spatula.
Then, let the mixer run for 10 seconds longer on LOW. STOP the mixer. Do NOT overmix.

8. Remove the mixer bowl. With a large rubber spatula, give the batter ONE or TWO quick folds to incorporate any stray flour or milk left at the sides and bottom of the bowl. Then, STOP!

9. Divide the batter in the three prepared baking pans (should fill 1/2 full) and lightly smooth the tops.
Place two pans on the lower shelf of the oven and center the third on the upper shelf. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cake begins to come away from the sides of the pan and the top is springy to the touch. If you insert a toothpick in the middle and remove, there should be a few moist crumbs attached, but not batter. While the cake is baking, prepare the frosting.

10. Remove cakes to cool on wire racks for 10 to 15 minutes and then unmold onto wire cake racks, lightly sprayed with vegetable oil spray.
Before inverting right-side-up, carefully peel the parchment paper off the cake. Allow to cool completely before assembling.

Adapted from Carole Walter's Great Cakes

Other Recipes