Sunday, December 09, 2007

Devil's Food Cake Recipe

Ask and ye shall receive!

First a little background:

I took a week long pastry course several years ago as a present to myself, since I really like to bake. This recipe is from that course, in the section on cakes, as is the buttercream icing. I learned a lot that week and bought a lot of gear from the local restaurant supply house. If there's one thing I've got, it's kitchen gear. Other women collect shoes, I collect baking gear.

My strong suggestion before you bake this is that you have a heavy duty mixer (i.e. KitchenAid - I love mine!) because you're going to run it for several minutes with this recipe. Second, get good, straight sided 8" circular pans with 2" sides. I used my old pans purchased from the grocery store with sloped sides and not quite enough depth for the amount of batter this recipe makes and one kind of overflowed and semi-collapsed on itself. Shh! Don't tell Eric! Third, quality ingredients mean a quality product so use real butter, real vanilla and good chocolate. For the amount of time you spend baking, the product should be worth the time invested.

Devil's Food Cake
Yield: 2 8" cakes
Recipe adapted for CO elevation from Cook's Illustrated March & April 2000


4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped (use the good stuff)
1/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa
1 1/4 cup boiling water (intensifies chocolate flavor)
3/4 cup (3.75 oz) all purpose flour
3/4 cup (3 oz) cake flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
8 oz unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks)
1 1/2 cup (10.5 oz) packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature and stirred smooth
1 tsp vanilla extract (real, not imitation)

  1. Adjust oven racks to upper and lower middle positions. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Butter 2 8" round pans with butter and line bottom of pans with parchment paper rounds, then butter parchment and dust pans with cocoa.
  3. Combine chocolate and cocoa in medium bowl, pour boiling water over and whisk until smooth. (Note: do this step early so the chocolate has time to cool down before you add it.)
  4. Sift together flours, baking soda and salt onto sheet of waxed or parchment paper. (Or another bowl, I'm not picky!) Set aside.
  5. Place butter and brown sugar in bowl of a standing mixer and beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 (to 5) minutes. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula.
  6. On med-high, begin to add eggs one at a time, beating 30 seconds after each addition.
  7. Reduce speed to medium. Add sour cream and vanilla and beat until combined, about 10 seconds. Stop mixer and scrape down bowl.
  8. With mixer on low, add about 1/3 flour mixture, followed by 1/2 chocolate mixture. Repeat, ending with flour mixture. Beat until just combined, about 15 seconds. Do not overbeat. (Overbeating results in the production of gluten which makes your cake chewy instead of tender. Not what you're after.)
  9. Remove bowl from mixer, scrape bottom and sides with rubber spatula and mix gently to thoroughly combine.
  10. Divide batter evenly among cake pans (Note: you could even use 3 8" pans if you wanted skinny layers.), smooth batter to edges of pan with spatula.
  11. Bake 30-35 minutes. (Note: At 15 minutes, I rotate my pans and swap positions if they're both on the same rack. Obviously it will take even less time if you're using 3 pans.) Invert cakes onto cooling racks. Cool completely before icing.

Classic Buttercream
Yield: 6 cups


1 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
1 lb unsalted butter, softened
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract or other flavoring to taste

  1. Place water and sugar in small saucepan and stir to combine over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
  2. Cover pan and bring to a boil and continue to cook the sugar to 240 degrees. (Yes, you need a candy thermometer.)
  3. Place yolks and whole eggs in mixer bowl and whip on medium speed with the whip attachment until light and fluffy. (Note: this step takes place at same time as #2 because it takes several minutes to cook the sugar solution and several minutes to whip the yolks. You're going for a light lemon-y yellow color, and kinda creamy in texture. The eggs gain a lot of volume in this step.)
  4. With the mixer running on medium (KitchenAid: 4), gradually pour the sugar syrup into the egg mixture being careful not to pour it directly on the whip attachment.
  5. Let the mixer run on medium speed until the egg mixture has cooled and become smooth. This will take several minutes. Test by turning the mixture off and inserting a finger into the mix. (Note: you're looking for cool enough to the touch, not cool or truly cold. You don't want to melt the butter in the next step either, just incorporate it.)
  6. Add the butter one tablespoon at a time, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding the next. When all the butter has been added, continue to mix until the buttercream is smooth.
  7. Add the vanilla or other flavoring. If the buttercream appears curdled, add more butter, one tbsp at a time until the mixture has a smooth consistency. Increasing the speed of the mixer briefly may also help bring the buttercream together.
  8. Use immediately or store refrigerated until ready to use. Bring to room temperature before mixing briefly to restore consistency.


Red Flashlight said...

Hatchet - thank you so much for sharing this recipe! Your cake that night was just amazing. :)

Missy said...

Thanks so much!

Ashlee said...

This looks amazing!! Says pregnant with twins lady... how else do you think I found this blog? ;-)

Woman with a Hatchet said...

Hi Ashlee! Good luck with your twin pregnancy!

Line up help starting now! Woo! Twins are a LOT of work. Bake while you can!

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