What is the birthday cake of your dreams, the one you had as a kid and secretly crave every year. It has to be the Devils Food Cake right? A rich, moist layer cake that packs a hell of a chocolate punch and fulfils all your childhood nostalgia needs, it’s the perfect chocolate cake and the one I make time and time again. I have been playing around a lot with chocolate cakes recently, trying to develop something extra special and whilst I was playing around in the kitchen I saw the recipe for Stella Parks’, aka Bravetart’s, Devils Food Cake. At first glance it looked to me like the perfect example of a devils food, the perfect crumb, the perfect colour and layers that stood tall and proud. I was doubly sold on the recipe once I realised it was basically an all in one method, no stand mixer needed here! The desire to bake it was stuck in my head so I got in the kitchen and gave it a whirl and guys, it is one of the easiest and best chocolate cakes I have ever made, so much so that I had to share it with you (and you know how rarely I post other peoples recipes).
The recipe comes from Stella’s incredible book BraveTart, a dream of a book that was clearly written over a long period of time with a hell of a lot of testing, which is sadly not as common as you would think for baking books. If you love baking you have to get this book, I think it is one of the best baking books in years! But back to the cake. A classic Devils Food needs to be frosted with something nostalgic, something like a quick fudge frosting (which I generally find a tad too sweet), so I decided to use a sour cream ganache frosting that I had originally developed for a different cake. It has the gloss and texture of the lightest buttercream but the full on chocolate flavour you get from a ganache. In my version I only use a portion of sour cream to double cream simply because I find versions made with 100% sour cream have too much tang that gets in the way of the chocolate flavour, just a little tang however really helps to lift the flavour and balance out the sweetness in the cake.
Devils Food Cake
Recipe by Stella Parks, aka Bravetart from her brilliant book BraveTart
340g unsalted butter
340ml brewed black coffee
85g dutch-process cocoa powder, I used Guittard
170g dark chocolate, around 72% cocoa solids
455g light brown sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
6 large eggs, cold from the fridge
3 large egg yolks, cold from the fridge
255g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine salt
Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
Recipe by Edd Kimber
400g dark chocolate, around 70% cocoa solids
50g unsalted butter
75g light brown sugar
large pinch flaked sea salt
400ml double cream
150g sour cream
To make the cake preheat the oven to 180c (160c fan) and lightly grease 3x20cm round cake pans and line the base with parchment paper, Stella recommends deep tins 3 inch deep pans instead of the more common sandwich tins as with shallower tins the cakes are more likely to dome and rise less.
Place the butter and coffee together in a large bowl and set over a pan of simmering water and heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter is fully melted. Remove the bowl from the heat and add the cocoa powder and chocolate and mix together until the chocolate is melted. Add the light brown sugar and vanilla and mix together until combined, as brown sugar has a tendency to clump make sure to work out any big lumps of the sugar. Add the cold eggs and egg yolks and whisk into the batter until fully combined. Finally mix together the flour, baking powder and salt and sieve over the chocolate mixture, mixing together until just combined.
Divide the batter between the prepared pans, preferably weighing to make super equal layers, and bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until the cake is starting to come away from the sides of the pan and springs back to a light touch. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10-15 minutes before inverting onto wire racks to cool completely.
To make the frosting place the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water and heat, stirring regularly, until fully melted. At the same time place all the remaining ingredients, except the sour cream, into a small saucepan and place over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently until the the butter and sugar has melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove both from the heat and combine together. As this ganache has a high proportion of liquid I find it useful to make this ganache a slightly different way to what I normally do (this is a more traditional/professional way of making ganache). Pour the cream over the chocolate in three additions, stirring gently in the middle of the bowl until the two mixtures are combined and a super glossy finish is achieved. Doing it in three additions like this makes sure the emulsion of the ganache is very stable and is unlikely to split. Finally add the sour cream and fold into the ganache. Set this mixture aside until it has thickened enough to spread and use like a regular frosting.
To assemble the cake first use a serrated knife to level the cakes, if needed. Place the first cake layer onto a plate or cardboard cake round and spread with a small amount of the frosting (I use an ice cream scoop to measure out the frosting so the amount going between each layer is equal) spreading it so it is just peaking out over the sides, but just barely. Repeat with the second layer of cake and then finally add the third cake layer and top with the remaining frosting spreading over the top and sides of the cake, decorating in whatever manner you prefer.
One of the wonderful things about Stella’s Devils Food is that it stays fresh for a surprisingly good amount of time, I have now made this cake multiple times and have served it up to five days after baking and people were still incredibly complimentary which is a big plus for me with this cake.