Here, our test kitchen's step-by-step guide to making a next-level version of this beloved chocolate dessert.
Desserts rarely rouse such fiery debate as the devil’s food cake does. Some say it was created in response to angel food cake. Others insist the name was inspired by the red pigments in cocoa. Bakers don’t even agree on the ingredients and proportions needed to create its strikingly intense flavor and velvety texture. But one thing is for sure: You’ve got to bake enough for everyone, lest all hell break loose.
Photography: Yuki Sugiura2 of 8
1. Prepare Pan and Ingredients
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.
Photography: Yuki Sugiura3 of 8
2. Make Batter
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.
Photography: Yuki Sugiura4 of 8
3. Transfer to Pans and Bake
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.
Photography: Yuki Sugiura5 of 8
4. Trim Tops
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.
Swipe here for next slide
Photography: Yuki Sugiura6 of 8
5. Sandwich Frosting with Layers
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.
7 of 8
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.
8 of 8
As with the cake recipe, there is no single standard frosting for a devil’s food cake. Rich in chocolate flavor without being diabolically sweet, our Swiss meringue buttercream -- which touts the same balance of taste and texture -- pairs nicely with this cake. If you prefer a sweeter, fluffier frosting, try our Seven-Minute Frosting. For a purely chocolate finish, go for our Whipped Chocolate Ganache.