I made my favorite Black Devil’s Food Cake on Saturday to take to a wine tasting and dinner at our church. We did a variation that Rich came up with a few years ago that ends up looking like a giant Hostess Ding Dong snack cake – two chocolate layers with cream cheese icing in the middle and chocolate icing all over the outside. This time I did make a design on top instead of leaving it smooth like a Ding Dong.
This cake recipe was my mom’s go-to recipe for birthday cakes, potluck desserts or any time we needed a quick dessert. She got the recipe from a cholesterol-free booklet (long since lost) she had from the late seventies, when they decided that eggs were the worst things you could eat. Believe me, there is no redeeming food value in this cake, despite the lack of eggs!
I have worked on many variations of this recipe, as you can see from the page out of my cookbook. This is the one that we like the best, and the one that I made on Saturday.
If you always use cake mixes, give this cake a chance. It goes together quickly, requires no special equipment (not even a mixer) and makes an excellent chocolate cake that leaves cake mixes in the dust. And the icing is, of course, the topper (pun intended). I have been known to make a double recipe just so we will have some left over to spread on graham crackers or to eat with a spoon.
To make the version we made, you do have to make two kinds of icing, and you end up with a pretty thick coat of the chocolate icing. If you would rather simplify things, skip the cream cheese icing (which does require a mixer, unless you have forearms of steel and want to beat it by hand) and just make the chocolate. Your icing layer won’t be quite as thick, unless you make a double recipe. We’ve been known to do that too. We really like this cake, if you can’t tell.
Calvin wasn’t going to the wine tasting, and he really wanted a piece of the cake. I decided to go ahead and cut him a piece and leave it at home. We got some kidding about the cake that already had a slice out of it, but I am glad I snagged Calvin a piece ahead of time. We came home with one bite of cake left on the plate.
Don’t forget to post in the comments and let me know how the cake works for you!
Black Devil’s Food Cake
From The Cook’s Life
Makes 8-inch round layer cake
2 cups flour
1 ¾ cups sugar
½ cup cocoa
1 tablespoon baking soda (yes, it really is a tablespoon)
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup plain, nonfat yogurt
1 cup buttermilk *
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup strongly brewed coffee
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans. Stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa and baking soda in a large bowl. Add oil, buttermilk and vanilla and stir well. Carefully stir in coffee. Batter will be very thin. Pour into pans. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until cake bounces back when lightly pressed in center.
Cool 15 minutes in pans on racks and then turn out of pans directly onto racks to cool completely before icing. This is a tender cake, so use a cooked icing or a very fluffy icing or the cake may tear when you are icing it.
* Commercial buttermilk works best. But you can also substitute slightly less than ½ cup yogurt and slightly more than ½ cup regular milk, mixed together. Or measure 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice into a measuring cup and fill the rest of the way with regular milk. Let stand for a few minutes before using. The cake won’t rise quite as high with either substitution.
Cream Cheese Icing
adapted by the Cook’s Life
from The Complete Cooking Light Cookbook
Makes enough for one 8-inch layer
2 ounces cream cheese (1/3 less fat or regular), room temperature
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons milk (approximately), if necessary
Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy. Add powdered sugar gradually, and mix well. Beat for 30 seconds, or until fluffy. If icing seems too thick, add a teaspoon of milk and beat again.
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup sugar
¼ cup milk
¼ cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Mix all but vanilla in a medium saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce heat slightly and boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Stir until thick enough to top cake (it will look like a thick milkshake). Pour over cake and spread to edges. If frosting a layer cake, let icing run down sides of cake and then smooth with a knife. Let icing cool thoroughly before covering cake.
Cake is even better the next day.