Devil’s Food Cake

I had never heard of Dorie Greenspan before last year.  This is clearly an indication of my lack of awareness of the world of professional baking rather than an indication of Dorie’s level of fame/success/kitchen-goddess status/baking prowess/general awesomeness.  Realistically, Dorie is probably one of the most well-known bakers around.  I just live under a rock … apparently.  Thankfully, some food bloggers got together and through their group, Tuesdays With Dorie, began working their way through Dorie’s latest masterpiece of a cookbook, Baking: From My Home to Yours, one recipe at a time.  Following these weekly postings from this mega-collection peaked my interest and immediately, this was my Number One cookbook request from Santa last year.

from the side

I have been waiting for the opportunity to break open this baking manual and a dual birthday celebration was the perfect excuse!  Since I had been given the go-ahead for a chocolate indulgence cake, I figured there was no better place to start than with the cake that started it all.  The picture on the cover that implores you to pick the book up, to open it, to buy it, just to find out about that cake!  In fact, I’m fairly certain that my dearest friend Em (who is quite the magnificent baker herself) bought the book because the cake on the cover looked so good!!

cake resting in pan

pile of chopped chocolate 2

And, good it was!!  I strayed from the recipe by replacing the marshmallow frosting with a lighter swiss buttercream (I’m working up the courage to tackle sugar syrups and candy thermometers and potentially skin searing liquids).  This buttercream frosting is perfect for people that don’t like an overly sweet frosting.  This is light and creamy with only a hint of sweetness.  Plus, it doesn’t have the mounds of powdered sugar usually called for in most buttercream frosting recipes.  The filling was a bittersweet ganache that I layered with extra mini-chocolate chips for an added surprise.  I used a 9 inch pan instead of the 8 inch that the recipe calls for, so my layers were a bit thinner than anticipated.  Not a problem, I just made a two layer cake instead of a three or four layer cake.

bottom layer with ganache

I opted for a more classical look rather than using the crumbs on the outside (also because I didn’t really end up with any crumbs due to the larger pan size).  To frost a cake like this, a dark cake with a light frosting, you really need to use a good crumb coat to ensure you don’t end up with a speckled frosting (unless, of course, you are going for the speckled look … in which case, bring on the crumbs!).  I would suggest using a good amount of frosting to lock in all the crumbs and the filling and put the entire cake in the fridge for an hour or so.  This will allow the frosting to firm up and give you a good base for the second layer.  You can then apply the second coat of frosting without worrying that you are going to pull dark crumbs into the nice white frosting.

from above

Update: Nurit at has graciously featured this cake in her weekly Cake Collection.  Check out all the other lovely cakes!


Devil's Food Cake


For the cake:
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1/2 cup buttermilk or whole milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup boiling water*
4 ounces semisweet or milk chocolate, finely chopped or 2/3 cup mini chocolate chips

For the Bittersweet Ganache Filling
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature

For the Swiss Buttercream Frosting:
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
26 tablespoons butter, softened (3 sticks plus 2 tablespoons)
1 tsp vanilla extract


To make the cake:
- Butter and flour two 8 x 2 inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, beat the butter until soft and creamy. Add the sugars and beat for another 3 minutes.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating each until it is incorporated.
- Beat in the vanilla.
- Reduce the speed to low and mix in the melted chocolate. Mix until fully incorporated.
- Add the dry ingredients alternatively with the buttermilk. Scrape down the sides as needed and beat until until incorporated.
- On low speed, add in the boiling water. This will thin the batter considerably. Scrape down the bowl and stir in the mini chocolate chips.
- Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through to ensure even baking. Remove when they are springy to the touch and a knife (or toothpick) comes out clean.
- Let rest on a rack until cool. Then invert the pans and remove the parchment liners. Let cool right side up. The cake layers can be wrapped airtight and kept, un-frosted, overnight at room temperature or frozen for longer.
- To assemble the cake, spread a layer of ganache on the bottom cake layer. Top with the second cake layer. Frost with swiss buttercream frosting.

To make the ganache:
- Put the chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl.
- Bring the cream to a boil (this happens pretty fast, so keep an eye on it!), pour half the cream over the chopped chocolate and let it sit for about 30 seconds.
- Using a whisk or a rubber spatula, gently stir the chocolate and the cream in a circular motion. Start with a small circle in the center and slowly work your way out.
- Pour in the rest of the cream and keep stirring in circles until smooth.
- Once smooth and shiny, add the butter one piece at a time and continue working in circles.
- Let it set up to the consistency you want (looser for a glaze, thicker for a filling, even thicker for a truffle filling). (The ganache can be brought back up to the consistency that you want by adding heat. I use the microwave on half power for 10 second blasts, stirring in between, until it was back at a frosting-like consistency. Be careful not to add too much heat too fast or the ganache will separate.)

To make the frosting:
- Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in a big metal bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until you can’t feel the sugar granules when you rub the mixture between your fingers. (I use the metal bowl from my Kitchen-Aid mixer so that it can be moved directly onto the mixer in the next step.)
- Move the bowl into the stand mixer and whip until it turns white and about doubles in size.
- Add the vanilla.
- Finally, add the butter a stick at a time and whip, whip, whip!!

* There will come a point where it will look like the frosting has curdled and is bad. This is terrifying and makes you question your commitment to the entire cake making process, but keep whipping!! Thankfully, Deb gave a heads up that this happens so I wasn't in tears by the 7 minute mark, but it still freaks me out every time. For this amount of frosting, I usually end up whipping for at least 10-12 minutes before it starts to really come together.

** This is a good amount to frost a 9 inch cake, but I would make more if you are planning on using it as a filling as well. Deb has all the measurements for doing larger batches or smaller ones if you are so inclined.

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5 Responses to “Devil’s Food Cake”

  1. 1

    Wow. Gorgeous. I would love to see a photo of this cake sliced. Get a close look on the inside… yummmmmm.

    • kate replied: — March 13th, 2009 6:57 am

      Hi Nurit — Sadly this cake was gobbled up too quickly to snap an inside shot. I guess that is just an indication of how delicious it was!

  2. 2
    Ginny — March 13, 2009 7:19 pm

    Beautiful. Did you tint the buttercream black for the piping around the edge, or is that a different icing?

  3. 3
    kate — March 16, 2009 8:35 am

    Ginny – I actually used some of the bittersweet ganache that I filled the cake with for the dark accent frosting.

  4. 4
    Meg — March 16, 2009 3:07 pm

    Looks delish! Love the pictures too, the one on the top is amazing. :-)

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