Traditional Devil’s Food Cake
This traditional devil’s food cake recipe is easy and super moist. Filled and covered with seven minute frosting, it will quickly become a family favorite!
Hello there, one of the most delicious chocolate cakes I’ve ever baked.
Yesterday when we talked about 7 minute frosting, I told you that I had a fantastic devil’s food cake recipe waiting for you today, and here it is! Truth be told, the only time I had ever made devil’s food cake previously was from a box mix when a recipe (like ho ho cake) called for a box of devil’s food cake mix.
However, once I saw it gracing the cover of Ina Garten’s new book, Cooking for Jeffrey, I couldn’t wait to give a homemade version a try. Always and forever an Ina fan, there was no question that this would be a fantastic cake, and that is a serious understatement.
This is one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever had. Period.
Devil’s Food Cake!
I’ve always sort of thought of devil’s food cake as the less-rich, slightly-drier, black-sheep-cousin of REAL chocolate cake.
Ummm… I could not have possibly been more wrong. This devil’s food cake is fan-freaking-tastic.
It has an unbelievably rich chocolate flavor and is supremely moist and fluffy. I could have eaten the better part of this cake on my own if I wasn’t already committed to sharing it, which, ultimately, was a good thing, HA.
Ina pairs this cake with a coffee meringue buttercream in her book, but I nix caffeine during pregnancy, so espresso was definitely out. After doing some searching on traditional frostings used on devil’s food cake, I found that 7 minute frosting was a far and away winner, so I went that route. The super light, melt-in-your-mouth frosting that’s a cross between meringue and marshmallows was a perfect companion for this cake.
Devil’s Food Cake vs. Chocolate Cake
So, what makes devil’s food cake different than traditional chocolate cake?
Apparently the differences used to be more clear-cut, but as ingredients and availability have changed over the years, the waters have muddled and there are more similarities between the different varieties of chocolate-based cakes. However, there are a few primary differences in ingredients and how the cake is prepared…
- Unsweetened cocoa is used for a more intense chocolate flavor vs. melted chocolate.
- Hot coffee is frequently used to enhance the chocolate flavor and keep the cake moist (regular chocolate cake often uses milk as the primary liquid).
- Devil’s food cake typically uses butter creamed with sugar as its fat, while most other chocolate cakes use oil for the fat.
- Using the combination of cocoa powder and baking soda makes devil’s food cake a lighter and fluffier texture than it’s traditional chocolate cake counterpart, which can be denser.
Why Does Devil’s Food Cake Have a Reddish Color?
Most devil’s food cakes have a hint of reddish color, so what gives?
The answer is that most devil’s food cake recipes include additional baking soda, which raises the pH level and gives the cake a deep mahogany color. So pretty, right?!
I love how grand this cake looks split into four layers, but you could totally just leave it in two layers, with one layer of filling in the middle. Likewise, feel free to use whatever your favorite frosting is (if you want to use Ina’s coffee meringue buttercream, you can find the full recipe here)!
If you ever found yourself under the same misconception that devil’s food cake was inferior to more traditional chocolate cakes, please, please, PLEASE make this cake! You will be so thrilled, I promise.
Traditional Devil's Food Cake
- 1½ cups (340.5 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2¼ cups (450 g) granulated sugar
- 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
- 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¾ cup (64.5 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¾ cup (177.75 ml) hot brewed coffee
- 3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1½ teaspoons (1.5 teaspoons) kosher salt
- 1 cup (230 ml) sour cream
- 7 Minute Frosting, double batch, or your favorite frosting
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9x2-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, grease the parchment and flour the pans. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. On low speed, add the eggs, on at a time. Add the vanilla and beat until well mixed, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and hot coffee until smooth.
- With the mixer on low, add the chocolate mixture to the batter.
- Still with the mixer on low, slowly add half of the flour mixture to the batter, then all of the sour cream, then the remaining flour mixture, mixing each addition until combined. With a rubber spatula, fold the batter until it is well mixed.
- Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Col in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
- Slice each cake layer in half horizontally. Place the bottom of the first cake, cut side up, on a flat serving plate and spread 1 cup of frosting on the top. Place the top of the first cake, cut side down, on top and spread another 1 cup of frosting on top. Next, place the top layer of the second cake on top, cut side up, and frost with another 1 cup of frosting. Finally, place the bottom layer of the second cake, bottom side up (so the top of the cake is flat). Frost the top and sides of the cake. The cake can be stored, covered, for up to 3 days. If you use the 7 Minute Frosting or a meringue buttercream, the cake should be refrigerated; bring to room temperature prior to serving. If you use any other type of frosting (a traditional vanilla, chocolate, cream cheese, etc.), the cake can be stored at room temperature.