Devil’s Food Cake

Devil’s Food Cake

Devil’s Food Cake 1920 2560 Daryl Duarte

Devil's Food Cake

Chocolate cakes run the gamut from dense and fudgy to delicate – and this cake is as delicate as it gets. It has a tender “crumb” (cake baking nerd phrase). It is a beautiful celebration cake for birthdays, holidays, or maybe an “any old Tuesday night” treat. I grew up with this cake as it was one of my mother’s favorites for our birthday cakes – and I continue the tradition by serving this as David’s birthday cake. This year, it also made an appearance in Rhode Island for my father for an “any old Wednesday” lunch dessert. It also appeared on the 2022 Fourth of July Dessert buffet table. The combination of the tall cake with the addition of fluffy Italian Meringue Frosting makes for a “hat box” of a cake with a big wow factor when cutting a slice. This recipe is a bit fussier than most of my cake recipes, but I think it is worth it. The measurement of the brown sugar is maddening!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American


  • 1 candy thermometer
  • Stand mixer
  • small heavy-bottomed saucepan



  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 3 ounces bitter chocolate
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 11/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 7/8 cups brown sugar
  • 3 eggs well beaten
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup milk


  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
  • 2 teaspoons corn syrup
  • 4 egg whites stiffly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla


Make the cake

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Prepare the pans: You can use either three 8” round cake pans or three 9” round cake pans for this cake. Grease each pan, line each with wax or parchment paper, grease the paper, and then flour the pans.

prepare the chocolate

  • Pour boiling water over chocolate in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until smooth and thick. This is a slow process and should not be rushed by turning up the heat - or you risk burning the chocolate. The mixture is done when it is shiny and thick. Set aside to cool.

make the batter and bake the cake

  • Sift flour, soda, baking powder, and salt together.
  • Cream shortening with sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating to incorporate fully between each addition.
  • Blend in chocolate and vanilla.
  • Add sifted dry ingredients and milk alternately, starting with 1/3 of the flour mixture, then ½ of the milk, 1/3 more flour mixture, and then the remaining milk, ending with the final 1/3 flour mixture. Beat for approximately 20 seconds between each addition, making sure the ingredients are well blended after each addition.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans. I use a scale to ensure that each pan has approximately the same amount of batter.
  • Bake for approximately 18 – 24 minutes or until the cake tester comes clean. This cake is delicate, and you do not want to overbake it. The 9” pan will cook faster (thinner layer of batter) – so test at 18 minutes. When the cake tester comes out clean, remove it from the oven and let rest on wire cooling racks for 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Turn out onto a wire rack to cool. You can wrap the cake in plastic and refrigerate it if making it a day or two ahead. It can also be frozen for future use.

Prepare the frosting

  • Bring the first four ingredients to a boil over medium heat in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Secure a candy thermometer onto the side of a pan with the bottom of the thermometer inserted into the boiling sugar. Heat (without stirring) to 242 degrees.
  • As the temperature approaches 230 degrees, beat the egg whites until they are stiff. When the temperature reaches 242 degrees, remove from heat and use immediately to finish the frosting. Be very careful – hot sugar is hazardous and can cause a severe burn. Be mindful at every step from this point forward.
  • With the mixer on high, carefully pour the hot syrup in a thin stream directly into the bowl and the egg whites. This should take about one minute from start to finish. Then, beat the frosting for about three more minutes – until it is stiff, glossy, and holds very stiff peaks. Add the vanilla and stir to incorporate.

Frost the Cake

  • I like to use a turntable to frost cakes. I place the first layer of cake onto a 10” cardboard round, add a generous cup or so of frosting, and, using an offset spatula, spread it evenly over the cake layer. Add the second cake layer and another round of frosting, and then finish with the third cake layer. You should do a crumb layer of frosting - a thin layer across the entire cake’s surface, which captures all the crumbs. Then, add a final layer of frosting across the whole cake, and it should be ice white and picture-perfect.
Keyword chocolate cake
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