So, when I was a kid, I had a deep obsession with devil’s food cake. Maybe because I identified as an American living abroad, I felt it was my civic duty, as an American, to eat as much American candy and sweets as I possibly could. Whatever the reason, the crown of all things decadently american was devil’s food cake. But hang on, not that granma’s recipe kind of devil’s food cake, nooooooo. I LOVED Duncan Hines and Betty Crocker, cardboard box devil’s food cake. Mmmm mmmm mmm….
So on my 12th birthday, I wanted the perfect devil’s food birthday cake. I wanted it round, with two layers, and covered in that completely overprocessed icing from a jar. I was going to have sprinkles and candles on it, bring it to school for all my friends to see, and it was going to be the best birthday ever!
See what a pain of a kid I must have been for my poor mother? If it’s not obvious yet, I’ll go ahead with the rest of the story. My dear mother, who was not naturally inclined to bake in the first place, slaved away putting this imaginary cake of mine together. She baked one big cake, sliced it down the middle, iced it, layered it, and iced it again. And despite all the TLC she put into it, I took one look at it and sobbed – because it was slanted.
Devil’s food indeed..! I know. I’m a horrible person. Or at least I was a horrible kid. My angelic mom took it in stride, piled icing up on the slanty bit, and voilà! We had some semblance of my dream cake.
Alright, let’s fastforward out of our childhood traumas and turn them into present treats! This year I decided I wanted to purge those demons, grow up, and make my own devil’s food cake. But like I said in the first installment of this three part series, I wanted to make it myself, from scratch, and way better than that Betty Crocker boxed stuff. I found the following recipe in a special “Holiday Baking” issue of Fine Cooking magazine Holiday something something magazine (ok, I’ll check the reference and place it here as sooooooon as I have the magazine back in hand…) and adapted it from there:
DEVIL’S FOOD CAKE
For the Ganache
300g dark chocolate (I used Cailler 64%)
1 and 1/3 cups (about 320ml) heavy cream
19g of butter (softened)
1. Chop the chocolate and place in a medium sized bowl.
2. Bring the cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate.
3. Do not stir – let it sit for 5 minutes. Then, using a whisk, stir in the center of the mixture in a small, tight motion until the chocolate is fully combined into the cream.
4. Stir in the butter until smooth.
5. Cover with plastic wrap (right over the surface of the ganache) and let it sit at room temperature for at least 8 hours (easiest to do this overnight).
For the Cake
170g butter (softened)
225g (about 1 ¾ cups) all-purpose flour
2 cups dark brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs (at room temperature)
65g (3/4 cup) unsweetened dutch processed cocoa powder
1 ¼ tsp baking soda (in French: bicarbonate de soude)
1 tsp baking powder (in French: poudre a lever)
1 tsp salt
1 ½ cups buttermilk at room temperature
¼ cup mayonnaise
Stand mixer or large bowl+electric hand mixer, or get ready to work those arms with a hand mixer.
2x 20x5cm round cake pans.
1. Preheat the oven to 180C
2. Line both cake pans with a round of parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper (or the bottom of the pans if you choose to skip the parchment paper) very, very generously. Dust with flour and tap out the excess.
3. Place butter, brown sugar and vanilla in a bowl and beat together either with a rubber spatula, or ideally with an electric mixer on medium-high speed. Beat until lighter in color and slightly increased in volume (3-5 minutes).
4. Lower the speed to medium and mix in the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each one is fully incorporated before adding the next. Do NOT overmix.
5. Over a piece of parchment paper, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and then add salt.
6. Using the parchment as a slide, add about a quarter of the dry mixture to the batter. Mix (on low speed) until smooth.
7. Add 1/3 of the buttermilk and mix until smooth.
8. Alternate between the dry mixture and the remaining buttermilk until it is all incorporated and smooth.
9. Last but not least, whisk the mayonnaise into the batter.
10. Pour the batter evenly into both pans and bake for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean (the sides of the cake should begin to pull away from the sides of the pan slightly).
11. Remove the pans from the oven and let them cool for 1 5 minutes at room temperature.
12. Invert the cakes on a wire rack and remove the pans and the parchment.
13. Let the cakes cool completely (can be made a day early, wrapped well and stored at room temperature).
Place the first cake on a flat plate. With a wide knife, spread the ganache over the top of the cake (using about 1/3 of it). Place the second cake on top and spread the ganache over the top and the sides, covering the whole thing evenly. Place it in the fridge for 15 minutes to let the crumbs set. Spread the rest of the ganache over the top and sides. The cake and be refrigerated, covered for up to 2 days. Return it to room temperature before serving.
Ladie and Gentlemen, I give you… Devil’s Food Cake fit for a 12 year old (with veeeeery picky tastebuds)!