Devil's Food Cake

Updated: This Devil's Food Cake is possibly one of the best cakes I've made so far. The first time I made it was back when Guilt Free wasn't even born. So trying to take decent photographs was not a matter of great importance. Moreover, this was baked for my mother's birthday last year and the only time it came together was bang at midnight, minutes after which it was cut into and devoured. But this cake is so amazing that I've always believed it merits better photographs and so when my 4 year old nephew came down to visit us, this was baked again in his honour. This time though I made a two-tier cake as opposed to the single layer that I had made last time. And boy, wasn't it double whammy?! :P
Original Post: I was in my hometown for my Mother's birthday after 2 years and absolutely had to outdo myself in the birthday cake department to make up for the lost years. Normally I have always ordered her birthday cakes from fancy patisseries but this time I decided to take that responsibility upon myself. That the cake had to be chocolate-based was without question, given the chocolate-hog that she is (fyi: she can finish one 16-piece box of Ferrero Rocher in 16 minutes.). But it had to be different than the usual tea-time chocolate cake. And here who else would come to my rescue than Nigella herself.
She describes the cake as such: Forget the name, this cake is heavenly. The crumb is tender, the filling and frosting luscious.  When I made it one Friday, I expected my children, resident food critics much in the mould of the Grim eater, to find it too dark, too rich, not sweet enough: you get the gist. Instead, I came down on Saturday morning to find nothing but an empty, chocolate-smeared cake stand and a rail of crumbs.
I desperately tried to adhere to the recipe as much as possible. But the ever-ticking weighing machine did not allow me to obey her in the butter and sugar department. She also made a two-layered cake sandwiched by a layer of thick frosting. I chose to eliminate one layer altogether. None of us needs the same sin twice over. Here I put down the recipe of my modified version. And once you make it (for which you'll require patience and confidence) and eat it, you'll know why she's called the domestic goddess!
Picture from the original post. After all it was a Birthday Cake!
Serves: Ideally 8-10. In this case my Mother came in 8-10 avatars. Not that I'm complaining!

Ingredients: (Just double the quantities of each ingredient for 2 cakes, if you're making a two-tier cake ie)

For the cake

Cocoa powder (sifted): 30 grams 
Dark Brown sugar: 50 grams 
Boiling Water: 125 ml 
Soft butter (plus some for greasing): 75 grams 
Caster Sugar: 50 grams 
Plain Flour: 120 grams 
Baking Powder: 1½ teaspoon
Baking Soda: 1/2 tsp
Vanilla Bean Paste: 1.5 teaspoons 
Eggs: 2
Chocolate chips/cherries: For garnish

For the frosting

Water: 60 ml 
Dark brown sugar: 30 grams 
Butter (cubed): 65 grams 
Dark Chocolate (finely chopped): 150 grams


1. Preheat the oven to 180 degree C.

2. Line the bottom of a round cake tin with baking parchment and butter the sides.

3. Put the cocoa and the dark brown sugar (pulse it in the mixer first to get a fine texture) into a bowl with a bit of space to spare, and pour in the boiling water. Whisk to mix, then set aside.

4. Cream the butter and caster sugar together, beating well until pale and fluffy (preferably with a freestanding mixer).

5. Stir the sifted flour and baking powder in another bowl, and set aside for a moment.

5. Dribble the vanilla extract into the creamed butter and sugar. Then drop in 1 egg, quickly followed by a scoopful of flour mixture, then the second egg. 

6. Keep mixing and incorporate the rest of the dried ingredients for the cake. Then finally mix and fold in the cocoa mixture.

7. Now place this chocolaty batter (it should be runnier than what a chocolate cake batter normally is) in the prepared tins and put in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

8. Take the tin out and leave on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes, before turning it out to cool.

9. For the your frosting: put the water, 30gm brown sugar and 65gm butter in a pan over low heat to melt.

10. When this mixture begins to bubble, take the pan off the heat and add the chopped chocolate, swirling the pan so that all the chocolate is hit with heat, then leave for a minute to melt before whisking till smooth and glossy.

11. Leave for about 1 hour, whisking now and again.

12. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours to get a firmer texture.

13. Now spread the frosting over the top and sides of the cake. (In case you're making a two tier cake, frost the first cake upside down with the chocolate mixture. Plonk the second cake on top of it to create a sandwich. And then frost the top of the second cake and the sides.) Add strawberries/ cherries/chocolate chips to get a richer look, and if you have a Mom who loves cakes as much as mine does, make it for her birthday!
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  1. Anonymous5:54 AM

    Question: How did you manage the clean...almost mirror-like frosting in this cake? Clearly there's some trick in that, since the original birthday cake was rather an uneven smear!

    1. Hi, if you read the first paragraph of the post you'd notice it says "the only time it (the birthday cake) came together was bang at midnight, minutes after which it was cut into and devoured". I made the frosting barely an hour before that and frosted the cake right after which the photograph was taken. I did not use a spatula then to even out the frosting on the top and sides. Also, this time the frosting was refrigerated for 3-4 hours and the cake too was resting in the fridge overnight (after it was frosted and before it was photographed) which allowed it to set properly. Hence the difference in appearance.

  2. Can it be made without the eggs.??


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