Monday, January 02, 2006


Devilish Cake

I'm on vacation but I wrote a recipe before I dashed off to this tropical paradise. I hear it's raining like crazy back home, so I am happy as a lark I'm not there. Until I return, enjoy!

This is a slice of chocolate cake. The give away I'd say is that it's brown. See? Brown. The only thing is, its not just a chocolate cake, it's a devil's food cake, and that means it's supposed to be red. Red? Yes kids, red. Or at least, reddish! I'm not all down with the science, but my basic (unresearched) understanding is that the chemical reaction between the buttermilk, cocoa and vinegar turns the cake red. Or, you know, it's supposed to.

So the question then this still devil's food cake if it's not red? I don't know. I know that I went with a classic concept (minus using mayo as an ingredient. While it has a certain logic to it, I just couldn't go there) and came up with a very decadent, sophisticated, adult dessert without resorting to the use of food dye. Devilish indeed. Red? Not so much.

Try it, and enjoy. (Oh, and serve with whipped cream and a dusting of cocoa. Mmmm.)

1 cup white flour
1/4 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
3/4 cups white sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs

Heat your oven to 350F

Butter and flour a 9 inch cake pan.

Stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside

In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk and vinegar.

With your mixer cream the butter and sugar for at least four minutes (as I always say, don't skip this. Take the time, it makes all the difference) then add the eggs one at a time, blending completely before adding the next.

Pour the batter into your cake pan and bake on the middle rack for 35 minutes. Check to see if it is done by inserting a cake tester or a toothpick. The cake tester should come out dry.

Add the flour mixture and alternate with the buttermilk, ending with the dry.

When the cake is baked, turn off the oven, open the door and allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool another 10 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack.

To serve, add whipped cream and a light dusting of cocoa powder.

Makes eight servings.


Drakes brand Devil Dogs snacks cakes (two oblong pieces of devils food cake with a cream filling) are available in stores in the Northeast of the United States, or for online purchase, here

"The reaction of acidic vinegar and buttermilk tends to turn cocoa a reddish brown color. Furthermore, before more alkaline "Dutch Processed" cocoa was widely available, the red color in these cakes would have been more pronounced. This natural tinting may have been the source for the name "Devil's Food" These days red dye is used to get the desired color. This was probably started after the introduction of the darker cocoa in order to reproduce the earlier color. It is also notable that while foods were rationed during World War II , some bakers used boiled beets to enhance the color of their cakes." - Baking

In 1902, the recipe for Devil's Food Cake first appeared in an American cookbook called Mrs. Rorer's New Cook Book by Sarah Tyson Rorer.

One in six British children think that broccoli is a baby tree


You baked the cake so call it what you like - I'll bet it still tastes great!! I like to make Lumpia and have discussed recipes with several Philippinas and each one said, “Oh no, that’s not how you make it” and then she proceeds to let me in on the family secret. I have morphed several of those recipes into what I call Lumpia. To avoid anymore confrontation I just call them “Bob’s Egg Rolls” and everyone seems content. You could do the same thing with your cake…
you are sooooo lucky!

it is POURING here in la, so windy that the rain is flying sideways!

have fun on your retreat and come back safely!
That looks sooooo decadent that I have to try it. I always wondered why Devil Food Cake was called that. And ours were never red too .. most like rust brown. And yes, I can't bear the thought of mayo in my cake too.

I live in a supposed tropical island and it has been raining here non-stop. I wish I was where you were ... Irony.
I'm so jealous of your tropical getaway! But you deserve it, my dear. And this cake looks fabulous.
Try making the cake using 'natural' cocoa powder (as opposed to Dutch-process, which is acid-neutralized.) It's more alkaline and when it reacts with an acidic ingredient, should turn your Devil's Food Cake a nice, rosy Lucifer himself!
Hi Rachael,

I got here through Crazy Gaijin's and am so happy to have found you.

I like the look of this cake. It doesn't look so heavy and according to the recipe not rich either. Is it so?

I have been searching for a great chocolate sponge cake to bake for my niece's 1st birthday and am a bit stuck. It's for mid Feb and i only have a few weeks for tryouts. yikes.

Do you have by any chance a recipe for a chocolate sponge cake i could try? She loves to dig in to it. So i thought i don't really want to let her down (yeah, she's only turning 1!). Thanks.
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