A Chocolate Cake for October’s Tricks: Devil’s Food
Heading into October and its culmination in Halloween, I find myself hankering for Devil’s Food Cake, despite its initially derogatory name. Supposedly in 1690 Pilgrims traveled to Plymouth Rock via Amsterdam. They stayed in a house near the city’s biggest chocolate houses and called that chocolate “the Devil’s food.” Later, a chocolate cake, perhaps simply a ball of ground chocolate prepped for drinking chocolate, became popular in Amsterdam. The local bakers named it “Devil’s Food.”
Mrs. Rorer’s New Cook Book by Sarah Tyson of 1902 seems to be the first American cookbook to list a recipe for a real cake known as Devil’s Food. The word devil had come to refer to spicy, stimulating, chocolate. Today, it is also known as red velvet or Waldorf Astoria Cake. Whatever its name and whenever its origins, now, I just think of our version of the cake* as devilishly tasty.
Devil’s Food Cake
1⁄2 cup milk (not nonfat)
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon espresso powder or instant coffee
(Instead of milk and vinegar, substitute 1⁄2 cup mayonnaise
11⁄2 cups sugar
1 cup heavy cream
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla
FOR THE CAKE: Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans with 2-inch-high sides and dust with flour, knocking out excess.
Stir together milk and vinegar and set aside to “sour” (mixture will curdle). Dissolve instant coffee or espresso powder into the warmed water. Melt chocolate and butter with coffee/espresso in a large metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, whisking until smooth.
Cool slightly. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Beat the sugar into the chocolate mixture with an electric mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed just until combined. Add the soured milk and beat on high speed for 2 minutes.
Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans. Bake in the middle of the oven until the tops of the layers spring back when touched lightly and the edges have just started to pull away from the sides of the pans, about 35–45 minutes. Cool the layers in the pans on wire
racks for 5 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edges of the pans, then invert the layers onto the racks to cool completely.
FOR THE FROSTING: Bring the sugar and cream to a boil in a heavy saucepan, stirring constantly, and simmer 10 minutes. Remove
from heat, and add the chocolate, butter, and vanilla, stirring until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Chill the frosting, stirring frequently, until thickened and spreadable.
ASSEMBLE THE CAKE: Brush any loose crumbs from the layers, and put 1 layer upside down on a serving plate. Spread with about 1 cup of frosting. Place the other layer on top, right side up. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.
Quantity: 8 servings
*tested with Hannah Gross
Boulou: North African Orange Bread
Almost cake-like, though not a cake, this orange tinged bread enhances any holiday table. Read my story about diasporic Rosh Hashanah celebratory breads at the Jewish Week, “Beyond Challah and Honey.” Prep time: 2-2.5 hours Rising time: 40-45 minutes Baking time: 30 minutes Yield: 2 small loaves adapted from Jewish Food Experience, Leah Hadad INGREDIENTSRead more ›
Pan de Calabaza: Pumpkin Challah
This bread brings fall ingredients to your festive meals and reflects the longtime usage of pumpkin among Sephardi Jews. See the Jewish Week for my story about unusual Rosh Hashanah breads, “Beyond Challah and Honey: Rosh Hashanah Breads From Around the World.” Prep time: 30 minutes Rising time: 1 hour 45 minutes Baking time: 45Read more ›
Yemarina Yewotet Dabo: Ethiopian Honey Bread
This sweetly spiced bread maximizes honey, both inside and out. For more about this and other unusual Rosh Hashanah breads see my story at the Jewish Week “Beyond Challah and Honey: Rosh Hashanah Breads From Around the World.” Prep time: 30 minutes Rising time: 2-2 ¼ hours Baking time: 1 hour Yield: One large breadRead more ›
Ambasha (aka Himbasha, Hambasha) Ethiopian Wedding Bread
This stylish Ethiopian celebratory flatbread derives its unique elements from the hand styled design and sweet flavorings. It was probably initially baked over coals. While many recipes give instructions for baking it in the oven, I prefer to use the stovetop for speed and for keeping my kitchen cooler in the summer. adapted from: MyRead more ›
Some Previous Posts
(in alphabetical order)
- A Chocolate Cake for October's Tricks: Devil's Food
- A Shikker Challah
- Ambasha (aka Himbasha, Hambasha) Ethiopian Wedding Bread
- Cheese Babka Recipe
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Chronicles: Inventions & Elections
- Is that coffee or chocolate?
- Lachuch (aka Lahoh or Lahuh): A Yemenite Flatbread for Shabbat
- Los Siete Cielos or Seven Heaven Challah Recipe
- Lunch & Learn: Central Synagogue
- Lunch and Learn: Tasting the Best Chocolate
- On the Chocolate Trail in Belize’s Jungle
- Other Wedding Bread Customs
- Recipe for Dabo: Ethiopian Pan Cooked Shabbat Bread
- Recipe for Fancy Shapes in Dough: Shaping Dough
- Saluf (aka Salouf or Saloof): Recipe for a Yemenite Flatbread for Shabbat
- What is the Chocolate Babka Project?
- What's a Key (shlissel) Challah?
- What? No Babka at Catskills Hotels? *
- Yeast Raised Khachapuri Recipe