experiments in cooking

Cocoa Devil’s Food Cake

A few weeks ago I started making chocolate cakes on the weekends to practice making a cake for my birthday. I started with a devil’s food cake made with cocoa, from my Joy of Cooking cookbook.

This was the first chocolate cake I’ve had any trouble making. It was easy to prepare, but I agonized over which size pan to use. I didn’t have two 9-inch round layer pans, but I did have a 10-inch fluted tube pan. However, I didn’t have a cake keeper to store a round cake in—so I had to use a 9×11-inch rectangular pan.

The finished cake sank in the middle. But I iced it with my favorite homemade chocolate glaze and it tasted good.

The funny thing was, it tasted even better the second day—and the third. I mean, on the first day, I thought it tasted okay, and on the third, I thought it was awesome. I wasn’t expecting that.

So this might be a good cake to make ahead of an event, letting it sit for a day. I just wish I’d baked it in a different pan. My mother-in-law gave me an old cake keeper and two round pans, so I’m set for next time.

Cocoa Devil’s Food Cake from Joy of Cooking

One 9-inch plain tube cake, 10-inch tube cake, or two 9-inch round layers

Have all ingredients at room temperature, about 70 degrees. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-inch plain tube pan, a 10-inch fluted tube pan, or two 9×2-inch round cake pans, or line the bottoms of the round pans with wax or parchment paper.

Whisk together in a medium bowl:

2 cups sifted cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

Whisk together in a separate bowl:

1 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk or yogurt
½ cup nonalkalized cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla

Beat in a large bowl until creamy, about 30 seconds:

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

Gradually add and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes:

1 cup sugar

Beat in one at a time:

2 large eggs

On low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the buttermilk mixture in 2 parts, beating until smooth and scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary. Scrape the batter into the pan(s) and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes in round pans, 45 to 55 minutes in a tube pan. Cool and remove from the pan. Fill and spread with white or chocolate icing.

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Comments on: "Cocoa Devil’s Food Cake" (4)

  1. just what i was searching for, thank you!

  2. I’m curious if you’ve ever made it without it sinking in the middle. I’ve made it three times now, the last two being absolute disaster. The cake clearly was overleavened (to the point where I could almost see through the bottom of the cake because it had sunk so badly). I’ve never had trouble with chocolate cakes and I love how this one tastes–just not how it looks. (and with how badly it sank, that’s a lot of extra frosting)

    • You might be able to bake the cake for slightly longer at a lower temperature; that may produce a more uniform result and prevent the sinkage which occurs when the crust of the cake has set but the mixture hasn’t. Or–and you would have to play around with this–if you added a small amount of extra flour it might give the cake more structure.

  3. I have baked this cake for years but have found it likely to sink. The combination of yogurt, cocoa and baking soda is too powerful and will cause the cake to sink. Solve the problem by replacing the yogurt with milk, which also makes a softer cake. If you prefer the flavor of yogurt, then try adding 1/2 cup yogurt and 1/2 cup milk and add an extra 1/4 cup flour to the recipe.

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