Devil’s food cake

I had been meaning to make a cake for my boyfriend and his family ever since his birthday at the beginning of last month. Now that I think about it, I’ve been planing on it ever since his birthday last year! Wow! What can I say? I’ve been a busy lady. For his birthday last month, I made him a cake at the last minute but we didn’t have the ingredients to make frosting, so it was a frosting-less cake. It still tasted good, but that was a major bummer.

This month I made up for it by making a pretty amazing Devil’s Food Cake with cream cheese frosting. It may very well be the best cake I’ve ever had, and it was definitely the best cake I’ve ever made from scratch.

My mom made the cake at the beginning of the month for my oldest sister’s thirtieth birthday and everyone loved it! My guy was working that night, so he wasn’t able to try it. He had been asking for cream cheese frosting for his birthday cake, so I decided I had to recreate it! I made the cake on Saturday morning to take to his family Christmas party. Even after piñata-breaking-time, we still had room for the cake and it was all eaten up! To me, that’s a sign of a good dessert.

Paul frosting the cake

Paul was a good sport and helped me with the frosting when he came to pick me up for the party. He actually got really into it! He took over the frosting and did an amazing job. I’m not sure why I’m surprised though. This happens every time we cook together. If he wasn’t an editor for a major website, he would be a chef or a food critic.

We followed two recipes from the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion All Purpose Baking Cookbook. One was for the Devil’s Food Cake, of course, and the other was for Cream Cheese Frosting. You can use any frosting recipe you like, but to make the three layer cake like me, use cream cheese frosting and follow the adapted recipes below.

Devil’s Food Cake

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks, 6 ounces) soft unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces) superfine or granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (2 ounces) Dutch-process cocoa [I used Hershey’s.]
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) water

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 8-inch round pans. Also add a little bit of cocoa powder. You will need about one tablespoon, or slightly less than the amount of flour per pan. My mom always does this for chocolate cakes. I don’t know if it makes a difference, but everything she makes is yummy so I’m following her lead.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy, beating for at least 5 minutes. I used a KitchenAid Mixer. It takes the same amount of time, even with the handy machine. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa and baking powder. If lumps remain, sift the mixture. I highly recommend sifting the mixture. It’s fun and I really think it helps make the cake extra fine in the end.

OK, now we get to a part I messed up on. You see, the King Arthur Flour cookbook recommends that you add the eggs to the butter mixture one at a time, beating well after each addition. I forgot to do this and just added the eggs all at once and it still came out tasting delicious. Either way works.

Next, mix together the water and the vanilla. Add one-third of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture, then add half the milk, another third of the flour, the remaining milk, and the remaining flour. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl occasionally throughout this process. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.


Bake the cakes in a preheated 350°F oven for 30 to 35 minutes. When you think it is ready, pull it out and insert a cake tester into the center. If it comes out clean, and the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, then you’re good. Toothpicks and forks make for great cake testers, by the way. Don’t forget this step! My mom forgot this step when she made it and had to throw out one of the layers because it wasn’t done. Remove the cakes from the oven, cool them for 5 to 10 minutes, then remove them from their pans. Cool completely before frosting.

Yield: Two 9-inch or three 8-inch rounds, or a 13 x 9-inch sheet cake. My directions are for making a layer cake, but it would taste great in any shape.

By the way, did you know the name for the cake comes from of the fact that it has a reddish tint? The combination of the natural cocoa powder and baking soda? It’s not as red as red velvet cake, but it still has a slightly reddish tint to it. Now you know! The King Arthur Flour cookbook told me so. It also has great tips on the process of baking a cake and why each step matters. Like I said in the recipe, I didn’t follow directions to a T, but it still tasted great!

Now for the frosting recipe!

Cream Cheese Frosting

6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 to 4 cups confectioners’ sugar, aka powdered sugar
2-4 tablespoons milk, to make frosting spreadable

Combine the butter, the cream cheese and the vanilla in a medium sized bowl, and beat them together until they are light and fluffy. Add the sugar gradually, beating well. Add the milk a little at a time, until the frosting is a spreadable consistency.

Yield: About 3 cups, which is enough to frost three 9 inch pans. It’s also enough to frost an 8-inch layer cake, 9×13 inch cake, or 24 cupcakes. That knowledge could come in handy later on!

That’s all there is to it! Making frosting is easy. It’s putting it on the cake that’s the hard part. It seems like Paul got the hang of it. I’ll have to ask him his tips and tricks and then make another blog post on that. ;) Also, next time I’ll be sure to take more pictures.

I hope you enjoy making this very delicious recipe. Good luck with all your future baking endeavors.