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Devil's Food Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting


This devilishly delicious, light and airy, all-occasion cake recipe was adapted from "Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook," and the frosting recipe is courtesy of Matt Lewis of Baked.

  • Yield: Makes one 9-inch layer cake or 3 dozen standard cupcakes


For the Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted, plus more for pans
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 cups cake flour, (not self-rising), sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

For the Frosting

  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 8 ounces milk chocolate
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into 1-inch pieces


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans; line bottoms with parchment paper. Butter parchment; dust with cocoa powder, tapping out excess.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk cocoa with hot water until smooth. Whisk in sour cream; let cool. Into a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating to combine after each; scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in two parts, alternating with the cocoa mixture and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until combined.

  4. Divide batter between prepared pans (or cupcake tins); smooth with an offset spatula. Bake until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes (or 18 to 20 minutes for cupcakes).

  5. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 15 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack; peel off parchment. Re-invert cakes; let cool completely, top sides up.

  6. Make the frosting: Finely chop both the bittersweet and milk chocolates. Place into a mixing bowl. Set aside.

  7. In a small saucepan, bring heavy cream and corn syrup to a boil. Take off the heat and pour over chocolate. Let stand for 2 to 3 minutes.

  8. Starting in the center, whisk towards the edges of the bowl until the chocolate is smooth. Let cool at room temperature.

  9. Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat at medium speed and gradually add butter until frosting is smooth and silky.

  10. Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cake layers to make level. Transfer one of the layers to a cake turntable or platter to frost. With an offset spatula, spread top with 3/4 cup milk chocolate frosting. Place the second cake layer on top.

  11. For the crumb coat, spread the entire cake with a thin coat of frosting using an offset spatula. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

  12. Spread the entire cake with remaining frosting, swirling to coat in a decorative fashion. Serve immediately, or refrigerate, covered with a cake dome. Let sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes before serving.

Cook's Notes

For a more dense and fudgy cake, make the following adjustments:
-Add 4 ounces 61 percent cacao chocolate, melted and cooled, to the cocoa-sour cream mixture.
-Reduce cake flour to 2 cups
-Increase butter to 3 1/2 sticks (1 3/4 cups)

Reviews Add a comment

  • cakengiftsini
    30 MAY, 2017
    After looking this awesome cake, I could not stop to myself from making it. So i prepared it. It was very yummy!!!! Thanking You!!!!!! I saw such beautiful Cakes on the sites : 2
  • ALR12267465DW
    10 FEB, 2016
    I made this last night for a co-worker's birthday. Very good -- I went with the "extra fudgy" option and the cake came out dense but done all the way through. One note: The recipe directions could use another enumerated point for those who get ahead of ourselves. Point #2 has you both mixing your cocoa/wet and sifting your flour, but not together. Yes, I should read all the instructions first, but I've made a LOT of chocolate cakes and now have a bag of sifted cake flour and dutch cocoa.
  • Tanya Baker
    17 FEB, 2014
    I, too, thought the cake was very dry, not moist like devil's food should be. Wondering if I over baked? The chocolate flavor wasn't great and I bought good Dutch-process cocoa especially for the cake. Disappointed!
  • Kimar
    19 SEP, 2013
    I love this cake and have baked it as cupcakes too. I didn't have any problem with dryness. The cake is quite mild in flavour, more of a "crowd pleaser chocolate" than a "death by chocolate" experience. The frosting is silky, glossy and delicious. I usually add a raspberry preserve or coffee cream to the centre filling along with the frosting which is really a "milk chocolate ganache". I'm from Australia and this cake is large by our standards and could easily be halved, then split to fill.
  • carlatory
    18 SEP, 2013
    In my opinion, this cake is good, but not great and I won't be making it again. I followed the recipe exactly and tested it often with a cake tester as the time neared. I felt it had a weak chocolate flavor even though I used high quality, organic, dutch process cocoa powder. The texture was different from how I expected a devil's food cake to turn out. It had a dry quality to it. I didn't make the frosting, so I can't comment on that. Again, it was so-so.
  • NicoleC98
    22 APR, 2013
    This cake turned our very dry and i baked it 7 minutes less than suggested in recipe. My gas oven is only a year old and bakes pretty accurately. I was very disappointed, this cake took time and it was not good. What a bummer. I suggest baking for 30 minutes and check it every couple of minutes from there. 45-50 minutes was waaaaaay too long of a baking time. I baked mine for 38 minutes and it was already over done :( big disappointment.
  • Maria Clemencia Reyes Gomez
    31 MAR, 2013
    Its very good
  • Marina Shaylitsa
    16 JAN, 2013
    If your cake came out dry, it is because you over baked it. Decrease baking time and it will come out moist like it is supposed to be.
  • SherryDiGi
    24 AUG, 2012
    This cake was very chocolaty in flavor, but it turned out very dry which was very disappointing. The frosting was good but couldn't get my mind off of the dryness of the cake.
  • Rebecca Gamache
    13 JUL, 2012
    I made this cake, but I made six times the recipe and turned it into a tiered cake for a rather huge birthday. I created a filling of homemade marshmallow creme between low sugar raspberry preserves. It was a delicious giant. The frosting came out really smooth, but I let it cool for about five hours.