Desserts & Baked Goods
Devil's Food Cake Recipe | BraveTart
2 hours 20 minutestotal time
For the Cake
12 ounces unsalted butter (about 3 sticks; 340g)
12 ounces brewed black coffee, or black tea such as Assam (about 1 1/2 cups; 340g)
3 ounces Dutch-process cocoa powder, such as Cacao Barry Extra Brute (about 1 cup, spooned; 85g)
6 ounces finely chopped dark chocolate, roughly 72% (about 1 1/4 cups; 170g)
16 ounces light brown sugar (about 2 cups, packed; 455g)
1/2 ounce vanilla extract (about 1 tablespoon; 15g)
1 teaspoon (4g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same weight
6 large eggs, straight from the fridge (about 10 1/2 ounces; 295g)
3 large egg yolks, straight from the fridge (about 1 1/2 ounces; 45g)
9 ounces all-purpose flour, such as Gold Medal (about 2 cups, spooned; 255g)
1 tablespoon (about 13g) baking soda
1 recipe Chocolate Swiss Buttercream or 6-7 cups other frosting
5 ounces finely ground Oreo wafer crumbs (about 1 cup; 140g), store-bought or homemade (option
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 350°F (180°C). Line three 8- by 3-inch anodized aluminum pans with parchment and grease with pan spray. (The cakes can be baked in 2-inch-deep pans, but they will dome more and rise less.)
Combine butter and coffee or tea in a 5-quart stainless steel pot or saucier over low heat. Once melted, remove from heat, then mix in cocoa and chocolate, followed by brown sugar, vanilla, and salt. Mix in eggs and yolks, then sift in flour and baking soda. Whisk thoroughly to combine
Divide batter between prepared cake pans, using about 23 ounces each. (If you don't have three pans, the remaining batter can be held at room temperature up to 90 minutes, though the rise will not be quite as high.) Bake until cakes are firm but your finger can still leave an impression in the puffy crust, about 30 minutes (a toothpick inserted into the center should come away with a few crumbs still attached)
Cool cakes directly in their pans for 1 hour, then run a butter knife around the edges to loosen. Invert onto a wire rack, peel off parchment, and return cakes right side up. Meanwhile, prepare the buttercream.
For the Crumb Coat:
Level cakes with a serrated knife (full directions here) and set scraps aside for snacking. Place 1 layer on a heavy cast iron turntable. If you like, a waxed cardboard cake round can first be placed underneath, secured to the turntable with a scrap of damp paper towel. Top with exactly 1 cup buttercream, using an offset spatula to spread it evenly from edge to edge. Repeat with second and third layers, then cover sides of cake with another cup of buttercream, spreading it as smoothly as you can (tutorial here). If you like, a second layer can be applied for a thicker coat of frosting.
Refrigerate cake until buttercream hardens, about 30 minutes. Coat exterior of chilled cake in a layer of chocolate cookie crumbs, if desired.
Let cake return to cool room temperature before serving. Under a cake dome or an inverted pot, the frosted cake will keep 24 hours at cool room temperature. After cutting, wrap leftover slices individually and store at cool room temperature up to 3 days more.
The key is to start off with the right sort of cocoa powder, something deep, dark, and rich. For that, I turn to Dutch-process cocoas, like those pictured in the top row. Natural cocoas, like those pictured in the bottom row, are slightly acidic, with a pale color and a flavor that's a bit fruitier and lighter. But Dutch-process cocoa is processed with an alkali to neutralize its acidity, creating a flavor as dark and earthy as its appearance. More importantly, however, Dutch-process cocoas tend to be high-fat (around 20% cocoa butter or more), while natural cocoa powder tends to be low-fat (10% cocoa butter or less). That means Dutch-process cocoas taste as rich as they look.*
My go-to choice for Dutch is Cacao Barry Extra Brute, but supermarket options, like Divine and Droste, work well, too.
*Black cocoa, while also alkalinized, is a nonstandard, fat-free cocoa product that should never be used interchangeably with Dutch-process.
Making the cake couldn't be easier. Combine some butter and hot coffee in a large pot, and warm over low heat until melted. Add the cocoa and chocolate, followed by brown sugar and vanilla, then season with salt and whisk until smooth.
Next, whisk in a few egg yolks and whole eggs straight from the fridge—they'll warm right up in the batter. When the mixture is smooth, sift in some all-purpose flour and baking soda.
Sifting aerates the flour and removes any lumps, ensuring that the batter is lump-free in turn. Sifting also helps distribute the baking soda, for a more even rise. In this recipe, which is high in both liquids and acidic ingredients, it's important to add the baking soda last, or else it will be prematurely activated. On that same note, once the baking soda has been mixed into the batter, it's crucial to portion and bake the cakes as swiftly as possible.
2 hours 20 minutestotal time