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How to Make Rich, Moist, Decadent Devil's Food Cake From Scratch

Updated on April 29, 2018
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Jan has been cooking and writing about food for over twenty years and has cooked on multiple television stations, including Food Network.

Homemade Devil's Food Cake

This is just the best comfort food - moist, rich cake covered in vanilla bean frosting. It's evocative of the best childhood memories - because it's just plain delicious! This recipe makes it easy too - check it out!
This is just the best comfort food - moist, rich cake covered in vanilla bean frosting. It's evocative of the best childhood memories - because it's just plain delicious! This recipe makes it easy too - check it out!

Remember the boxed stuff? Where the batter tasted about as good as the finished cake and if you could get away with it you're sorely tempted to just eat it with a spoon and forget buttering and flouring the cake pans?

I do. And you know you do too. Devil's Food Cake is just that good. Originally getting it's name because of it's opposite appearance to Angel Food Cake and because of it's dark, rich taste it carries the perfect amount of chocolate punch. I like it with simple buttercream - although of course I'd eat simple buttercream on anything at all (including the aforementioned spoon).

Don't be fooled by the tiny bit of coffee in this recipe. The result won't be a 'mocha' thing at all. Coffee and chocolate work beautifully hand in hand - the coffee enhances the chocolate flavor without competing with or overwhelming it. This cake is a favorite birthday request at my house. Once you try it, it will be it will be at your house too!

A couple of notes - first, I'm a baker, not a decorator, so as long as the frosting is pretty and fluffy, I don't care about the rest if it tastes good, and this one tastes great. However, if you want to make it a little dressier, the easiest trick is to make sure the tops of the cakes are even. Use a serrated knife to trim the tops of the cakes to remove the slightly domed bit. This makes the layers more even when you frost between them, making the finished cake more even and more 'professional' looking.

You can also use a piping bag or plastic baggie to pipe around the bottom edge of the cake to make it neater. I usually just line the cake plate with foil before frosting to keep the plate clean and leave it at that. Don't feel like you have to copy stuff on Pinterest - you'll be proud enough of how great this lovely cake tastes that pretty white frosting is plenty!

Homemade Devil's Food Cake Recipe - Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup cocoa
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup coffee
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs

Homemade Devil's Food Cake Recipe - Directions

Directions

  1. Butter and flour two nine inch cake pans. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together (by hand) flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa and sugar. Whisk well to fully incorporate.
  3. Add the oil, coffee and milk and mix until fully incorporated - about two minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each. Stir in vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl and mix for another couple of minutes.
  4. Divide batter among prepared cake pans, and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean. All cakes to cool in their pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completley before frosting.

Frost with White Vanilla Buttercream Frosting - Recipe Below

White Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup shortening, room temperature
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

1. In a medium saucepan over low heat, whisk together milk and flour. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Cover and chill completely.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together butter, sugar and shortening until creamy. Add vanilla.

3. Add cold milk mixture and beat for 8-10 minutes. Frost cakes, and chill both.

Use two cups of all-purpose flour for this recipe. The crumb ends up perfect - firm enough to handle all that luscious frosting, but light enough to stay light and fluffy. Cake flour is a bit too delicate for this recipe.
Use two cups of all-purpose flour for this recipe. The crumb ends up perfect - firm enough to handle all that luscious frosting, but light enough to stay light and fluffy. Cake flour is a bit too delicate for this recipe.

Salt and Leavening

This cake is leavened with both baking soda and baking powder, and it's the perfect amount. It also uses just a teaspoon of salt, and don't skip the salt. It highlights the gorgeous richness of the cocoa.
This cake is leavened with both baking soda and baking powder, and it's the perfect amount. It also uses just a teaspoon of salt, and don't skip the salt. It highlights the gorgeous richness of the cocoa.

The Secret Ingredient - Coffee!

One of the true secrets to this cake's ultimate chocolaty flavor is using coffee as one of the liquids. The flavor of coffee is idea for showing off the rich cocoa flavor. I think I say cold coffee in the recipe but it's fine as long as it's not hot.
One of the true secrets to this cake's ultimate chocolaty flavor is using coffee as one of the liquids. The flavor of coffee is idea for showing off the rich cocoa flavor. I think I say cold coffee in the recipe but it's fine as long as it's not hot.

Whole Milk

I can - and have - used lower fat milk in this recipe, but the results just aren't quite the same. The bit of extra fat adds the right body and texture to the finished cake.
I can - and have - used lower fat milk in this recipe, but the results just aren't quite the same. The bit of extra fat adds the right body and texture to the finished cake.

Vegetable Oil

Oil based cakes were invented in the 20th century, helping cooks at home make one bowl cakes that taste incredible. They resulted after the invention of vegetable oil, and ultimately allowed the creation of boxed cake mixes.
Oil based cakes were invented in the 20th century, helping cooks at home make one bowl cakes that taste incredible. They resulted after the invention of vegetable oil, and ultimately allowed the creation of boxed cake mixes.

Cocoa Powder - the Flavor Bomb

I use just plain old cocoa powder in most of my recipes. In this case you can use either standard cocoa powder or dark cocoa powder - I like them both. The cake in these photos was make with Hershey's Ultimate Dark, but any good cocoa powder works.
I use just plain old cocoa powder in most of my recipes. In this case you can use either standard cocoa powder or dark cocoa powder - I like them both. The cake in these photos was make with Hershey's Ultimate Dark, but any good cocoa powder works.

Vanilla Extract - Keep it Real

Use real vanilla extract here. Feel free to make your own extract - it's super easy and cheaper than store bought. But I just like the flavor of the real stuff better than the imitation.
Use real vanilla extract here. Feel free to make your own extract - it's super easy and cheaper than store bought. But I just like the flavor of the real stuff better than the imitation.

Mix in Two Large Eggs

I use large eggs in almost every recipe - they're consistent for quantity, and most commercially written recipes use large eggs as well.
I use large eggs in almost every recipe - they're consistent for quantity, and most commercially written recipes use large eggs as well.

Mix Until Fully Incorporated

Mix the batter until fully incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you work. The batter is a bit on the liquid side - that's fine.
Mix the batter until fully incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you work. The batter is a bit on the liquid side - that's fine.

Two 9 inch Cake Pans

Divide the batter evenly between two buttered and floured 9 inch cake pans.
Divide the batter evenly between two buttered and floured 9 inch cake pans.

Bake at 325F for 35-40 Minutes

Bake at 325F for 35-40 minutes, or until a cake skewer or knife tip inserted into the center of the cake comes away clean.
Bake at 325F for 35-40 minutes, or until a cake skewer or knife tip inserted into the center of the cake comes away clean.

Allow the Cakes to Cool Completely

Be patient and allow the cakes to cool all the way before frosting. If you frost too quickly, the warmth will melt the frosting and it'll slide right off, so let them cool all the way down.
Be patient and allow the cakes to cool all the way before frosting. If you frost too quickly, the warmth will melt the frosting and it'll slide right off, so let them cool all the way down.

Frost with Vanilla Buttercream

Frost with any kind of frosting you like of course - but the classic is an old fashioned vanilla buttercream. The combination of black and white is just gorgeous and it tastes great.
Frost with any kind of frosting you like of course - but the classic is an old fashioned vanilla buttercream. The combination of black and white is just gorgeous and it tastes great.

Grab a Glass of Milk and Enjoy!

Ok - this piece is huge. My fifteen year old cut it and he'll eat an entire cake by himself if I'd let him. But I have to say - this is the kind of cake you WANT a big piece of, so knock yourself out!
Ok - this piece is huge. My fifteen year old cut it and he'll eat an entire cake by himself if I'd let him. But I have to say - this is the kind of cake you WANT a big piece of, so knock yourself out!

Old Fashioned Vanilla Buttercream Tutorial

How to Prepare a Pan for Baking

How to Make Vanilla Extract

© 2011 Jan Charles

Comments

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    • AlmostLola profile image

      AlmostLola 

      7 years ago

      Sounds so good! thanks for sharing!

    • rjsadowski profile image

      rjsadowski 

      7 years ago

      What's not to like about Devil's Food Cake. Perfect for Halloween.

    • bell du jour profile image

      bell du jour 

      7 years ago from Ireland

      Great hub! love the link to the corned beef and cabbage, although this time of the year its traditional for us to have colcannon which I mention in my hub Traditional Irish Halloween Food. Thanks for sharing, voted up :-)

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