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The Ultimate Devil's Food Cake

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Not for the faint of heart, our version of devil's food cake is infused with melted chocolate (in addition to the usual cocoa powder) and sour cream to create a richer chocolate flavor and help it stay moist. Get our step-by-step guide here.

Photography: Yuki Sugiura

Source: Martha Stewart Living, October 2015

Ingredients

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (3/4 cup)
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 6 1/4 cups Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment rounds; butter parchment. Stir together boiling water, cocoa, and chocolate in a bowl. Let cool 10 minutes. Whisk together flour, baking powder and soda, and salt in another bowl.

  2. In a mixing bowl, beat butter with sugar on medium-high until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down sides of bowl. Beat in vanilla, then chocolate mixture. Reduce speed to low; beat in flour mixture in two additions, alternating with sour cream, until just combined.

  3. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans, smoothing tops with an offset spatula. Bake until a tester inserted in centers comes out with moist crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes.

  4. Let cakes cool in pans on a wire rack 20 minutes. Turn out onto rack, top-sides up; let cool completely. With a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes so they're level.

  5. Line the edges of a cake stand or plate with strips of parchment. Place one cake layer on stand, trimmed-side up, and spread 1 1/2 cups buttercream evenly over top. Top with remaining cake layer, trimmed-side down.

  6. Spread a thin layer of buttercream over top and sides. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes (this ensures a crumb-free finish). Spread remaining frosting evenly over top and sides. Cake can be stored in refrigerator up to 1 day; bring to room temperature before serving.

Variations

If you like your frosting sweeter and fluffier, you'll be tempted by the cloud-like Seven-Minute Frosting, which is often paired with devil's food cakes.

Or, for a purely chocolate finish, try whipped chocolate ganache: Chop 24 ounces bittersweet chocolate into 1/4-inch pieces; transfer to a heatproof bowl. Heat cream in a saucepan just until simmering. Pour over chocolate; let sit for 2 minutes, then stir to combine. Let cool completely, stirring occasionally. Whisk chocolate mixture until lightened; do not overmix. Use immediately. (Makes about 6 cups.)

Cook's Notes

Dutch-process cocoa powder produces darker, smoother-tasting chocolate than the natural variety.

Reviews Add a comment

  • MS10250599
    17 JUN, 2017
    I wish the measurements were given in weight - especially for the flour and butter. Much more accurate measurement. Also a stick of Land o' Lakes Butter and a stick of Kerrygold Butter are quite different.
    Reply
  • nguyenhongha99
    15 JUN, 2016
    Follow the recipe exactly , the cake was too dry , it was heavy , not rise enough , it had a brown color like brownies , it wasn't dark black like the picture showing . I'm very , very disappointed . In my mind when I made the cake , recipe from Martha Stewart has to be good . I guess I was wrong . I wouldn't recommend this recipe to anyone . I forgot to mention the "Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting " was good , that's the only good for this cake so it's deserve only 1 star .
    Reply