The Best Devil’s Food Cake

published Dec 3, 2021
Devil's Food Cake

Rich, decadent, and chocolate-y without being overly sweet, Devil's food cake is everything a chocolate cake should be.

Serves10

Prep30 minutes

Cook38 minutes to 44 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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slice out of devils food cake on cake stand
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

I love all types of chocolate cake, but Devil’s food cake ranks highest on my list. It’s everything a chocolate cake should be: rich, decadent, and chocolate-y without being overly sweet, with a moist-yet-airy texture that makes it simply irresistible. It’s the sort of cake that has you reaching in the fridge to sneak a slice at 3 a.m.

Whether you’re celebrating a birthday, an anniversary, or are just in the mood for some delicious chocolate cake, this Devil’s food cake will never steer you wrong.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Duncan Fitzpatrick

What’s the Difference Between Devil’s Food Cake and Chocolate Cake?

There are two primary differences between Devil’s food cake and your standard chocolate cake.

  1. Cocoa powder vs. melted chocolate: Devil’s food cake relies on cocoa powder for its chocolate flavor, while classic chocolate cake typically calls for melted chocolate. You’ll also often find coffee in Devil’s food cake, which reinforces the chocolate flavor.
  2. Extra baking soda. Devil’s food cake contains more baking soda than most other chocolate cakes, which both makes it fluffier and raises its ph level, giving it a darker hue.

Why Is It Called Devil’s Food Cake? 

While there’s no clear answer for this, it’s believed that the cake’s ultra-dark appearance and rich taste were deemed “sinful,” hence the name Devil’s food cake. The cake made its first print appearance in the early 1900s in Sarah Tyson Rorer’s Mrs. Rorer’s New Cook Book and has been a favorite ever since.

The Best Frosting for Devil’s Food Cake

While you’ll sometimes see Devil’s food cake paired with white frosting, I opted for a classic whipped chocolate ganache — because you can never go wrong with chocolate on chocolate. To make it, you’ll pour warm heavy cream over finely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate and whisk until the chocolate melts. Chill it in the refrigerator until set, then use a hand or stand mixer to whip the ganache until it’s fluffy and lightened in color.

Devil's Food Cake

Rich, decadent, and chocolate-y without being overly sweet, Devil's food cake is everything a chocolate cake should be.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 38 minutes to 44 minutes

Serves 10

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 2 sticks

    (8 ounces) unsalted butter

  • 3

    large egs

  • 2

    large egg yolks

  • 1 cup

    sour cream

  • Cooking spray

  • 2 1/2 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup

    Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 2 teaspoons

    baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 cup

    packed light brown sugar

  • 1 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 2 teaspoons

    vanilla extract

  • 1 cup

    hot brewed coffee

For the whipped chocolate ganache frosting:

  • 12 ounces

    semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate

  • 1 cup

    heavy cream

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

Instructions

For the cake:

  1. Place 2 sticks unsalted butter in a stand mixer (or large bowl if using an electric hand mixer). Place 3 large eggs, 2 large egg yolks, and 1 cup sour cream on the counter. Let everything sit at room temperature until the butter is softened, at least 1 hour.

  2. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF. Coat 2 (9-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray, then line the bottom of each pan with a parchment paper round. Place 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons baking soda, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.

  3. Add 1 cup packed light brown sugar and 1 cup granulated sugar to the bowl of butter. Beat on medium speed with the paddle attachment until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the paddle and sides of the bowl. Beat in the eggs and egg yolks one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Stop and scrape down the bowl again. Beat in 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

  4. With the mixer on the lowest speed, beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture, then 1/2 cup of the sour cream. Beat in 1/2 of the remaining flour mixture, then the remaining sour cream. Beat in the remaining flour mixture until just combined. Add 1 cup hot coffee and whisk in by hand until just combined.

  5. Divide the batter between the cake pans and spread into an even layer. Bake until a tester inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, 38 to 44 minutes. Place the cakes on a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Flip the cakes out of the pans onto the rack, discard the parchment, and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, make the frosting.

For the frosting:

  1. Finely chop 12 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate and place in a large bowl. Heat 1 cup heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat until small bubbles form around the edges, 6 to 8 minutes. (Alternatively, microwave the cream until it begins to bubble, about 2 minutes.)

  2. Slowly pour the cream over the chocolate and whisk until the chocolate is melted completely. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and whisk to combine. Refrigerate uncovered until the ganache sets, about 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes to keep the ganache smooth.

  3. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or an electric hand mixer, whip the ganache on medium-high speed until fluffy and lightened in color, 3 to 4 minutes. Frost the top and sides of the cake with an offset spatula.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The cakes can be baked up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated tightly wrapped in plastic wrap. The chocolate ganache can be made the day before without whipping, covered, and left to set at room temperature. When you’re ready to assemble the cake, whisk the ganache by hand to smooth it out before whipping.

Storage: Leftover cake can be covered and refrigerated for up to 4 days.