Devil's Food Cake
A couple of weeks ago, when I began brainstorming recipes to share on the blog, my husband had one request: Devil’s Food Cake. It’s easy to understand why it’s his favorite: it’s rich in flavor, light in texture and extremely satisfying. I think I can freely speak for my husband when I say it’s our favorite chocolate cake.
I like to think of this as the perfect chocolate cake and I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t enjoy it with a nice tall glass of milk. I kind of consider it to be a special occasion cake. I make it for birthdays and other special occasions throughout the year. The last couple of years, I’ve been making it for Halloween parties and festivities. It’s not like I use any flavors that are associated with Halloween (there’s no pumpkin in this cake), but I think my subconscious always gravitates towards it simply because of the name. When I recently made this cake and decided to put orange frosting on it, I am blaming the expanding pumpkin patch in our back yard and the adorable set of appetizer plates I picked up at Pier 1.
Ladies, if you’re looking for a sure-shot way of annoying your husband, grow pumpkins in your yard. As the vines inch their way closer and closer to the lawn, watch the worry appear on his face. I call it pay back for all the missing silverware over the years. Just yesterday I found a fork in his truck. I really don't get it. That's why I buy plastic forks so he doesn't have to take my nice silverware with him to work, it rarely ever comes back!
I have taken over our backyard with a half-dozen pumpkin plants and let me tell you if you think you have enough room for them to grow freely, you don’t. As a joke, I planted two giant pumpkin plants along with a couple of different varietals of baking pumpkins (and carving pumpkins, of course). The smallest they’re supposed to be is fifty pounds and so far, luckily for my husband’s back, there’s only been one that’s ripened and it’s only around seventy pounds. Yep, it weighs more than one of our dogs and there’s no way I can possibly move it myself.
Seriously, it’s so round I can’t even get my arms around it. I keep joking with my husband that I am simply honing my pumpkin-growing skills so one year I can grow a giant pumpkin that requires heavy machinery in order to move it. He’s not amused but I am.
Thus far, only three pumpkins have ripened, but it’s still early and I haven’t lost hope yet. I apologize in advance for all of the pumpkin-inspired and recipes containing pumpkin that will no doubt begin to pop up on the site over the next couple of months.
Anyhow, back to business and this delicious devil’s food cake. Throughout the years, I’ve made a few on the fly adaptations to the recipe depending upon the desired end-result. Originally, this recipe contained no coffee and instead boiling hot water was used to mix the chocolate into the batter. Wanting a richer mocha flavor, I started using freshly brewed coffee. I don’t use instant coffee like some recipes may call for. If it’s what you drink in the morning to arm yourself for the day, you should use it in your baking. For the last five years, I’ve been a strict-consumer of Kauai coffee and I won’t use anything else in my sweets. Just make sure you’re using unflavored coffee, though I have used their Hazelnut coffee in chocolate desserts and it’s not too shabby. If all you’ve got is decaf, go ahead and use it. The coffee flavor is what’s important. If you’re a coffee-free household, you can instead use boiling hot water. Just use high quality cocoa powder.
This doesn’t have to strictly be a plain chocolate cake. It can easily be “dressed up” with orange zest added to the batter, which I have been known to do from time to time. Plus, when spreading orange-colored buttercream all over the cake, adding some orange juice to the frosting adds another layer and dimension to the cake that might not be expected. Or, you can leave the cake as is, spread some ganache or fruit preserves between the layers of cake and fluffy buttercream frosting. Since I was feeling the Halloween vibes, I melted some dark chocolate and poured it over the top to get the drip effect on the sides of the cake, which is something I usually do even when I leave the frosting white or make a simple chocolate frosting. It adds another layer of chocolatey-goodness that nobody can say no to.
Since this is a really moist cake, it’s essential that you allow it to completely cool prior to handling it—otherwise, it will break. See the crumbs in the photos? That was actually a third layer of what should have been on the cake. Devil kitten has figured out how to climb drawers to get places he shouldn't and managed to get his claws on a sheet of parchment paper and while he didn't manage to pull the entire thing on the floor, he disturbed it enough that the cake split into thirds.
When it comes time to assemble the cake, I recommend a cake leveler, a cake board, a turntable, and an offset spatula. For frosting, I used my basic buttercream frosting used on my Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes with a ratio of 2 sticks of unsalted butter and 4 cups of confectioners sugar which makes for a stiffer consistency.
Devil's Food Cake Ingredients & Instructions
- 3/4 cup high quality cocoa powder
- 1 cup hot freshly brewed coffee
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup room temperature unsalted butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract