When you want to make somebody you love something special for a special occasion, chocolate is a pretty good place to start, and very often, its also a good place to end. Especially if that person is my sister (she can wolf down a pack of Lindt Thins like its popcorn on movie night!).
Warning: a lot of chocolate went into the making of this cake. Four hundred grams to be precise (just for the frosting, the cake itself used only cocoa powder)
The David Lebovitz recipe I tested last week was perfect. The cake was moist, with a lovely, deep flavor that I amped up with a good dose of homemade vanilla. Looking at the recipe, I knew I wouldn’t need to test the frosting. Melted dark chocolate with some butter thrown in for good measure? What could possibly not be right about that! And I was right, the frosting came out beautiful and glossy with an unadulterated chocolate flavor.
Devils Food Cake
Adapted from David Lebovitz
Makes 1 three layer, 9 inch cake.
I scaled up the recipe to make a three layer cake, tossed in some vanilla and brushed the layers with coffee liqueur to help keep them moist. I would definitely recommend both extra ingredients. You don’t of course, need to use a coffee liqueur, just a simple syrup of even water would suffice, just to help keep the layers moist.
Also, because my oven is not very large and is a bit temperamental, I made and baked the batter for the three layers individually, one after the other to avoid mishaps. This was quite painstaking and time consuming, and it makes much more sense to make all three layers at once if your oven can handle it.
For the icing:
400gms dark chocolate (I used 3 bars of a regular good quality dark chocolate, and 1 bar of a bitter 85% chocolate, to very good results)
3/4 cup water or cream (I prefer water)
1 cup (200 gms) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
For the cake layers:
1 cup (or 13+1/2 packed tbsp) cocoa
2+1/4 cups flour
1 scant tsp salt
1+1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup (or 150gms) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2+1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup strong coffee or water
1/4 cup milk
3 tbsp pure vanilla extract (great place to use a rum or bourbon based extract)
Simple syrup or coffee liqueur to brush the layers
Make the icing:
Chop the chocolate as small as possible and melt with the water in a double boiler, over low heat. When the chocolate is almost fully melted, take it off the boiler and add the cubes of butter. Whisk till smooth and glossy. Set aside. My frosting took well over two hours to firm up to a spreadable consistency, despite Delhi’s tolerable temperature. If your frosting is taking too long to firm up, and your cake layers are cooled and ready, pop it in the fridge for 10 minutes, take it out, give it a good stir. If you live in Saharan temperatures, you may need to repeat this process a few times till the frosting is ready.
Make the cake layers:
Prepare three 9 inch round cake tins: line the bottoms with parchment or butter paper, butter the paper and the sides of the tines.
Preheat your oven to 175 degrees Celsius.
Place the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer, if you own one). Sift the rest of the dry ingredients and set aside. Mix together the milk, coffee and vanilla, set aside.
Beat the butter and sugar till creamy. Add an egg and beat till incorporated, before beating in a second egg. Add a third of the dry ingredients, and beat. Add the last egg and beat, add the milk mixture and beat till incorporated, scraping down the sides. Add the rest of the dry ingredients, and beat till just incorporated.
Divide the batter evenly between the three tins. Shake and rap the tins on the counter, to get the surface of the batter as even as possible. Bake for 25 minutes, rotating the position of the tins mid-way.
Cool completely before frosting.
If the cake layers are uneven on top, trim the tops using a long sharp knife.
Place one cake layer on a plate or cake stand and brush with some simple syrup or coffee liqueur. Dollop some of the frosting and spread evenly (you’ll have to eyeball the amounts here). Place the second layer on top of this and brush with more syrup/liqueur. Dollop on more frosting and spread evenly. Top with the last layer of cake and brush with more liquid. Pile the rest of the frosting on top, and using your spatula, coax the frosting to the sides, so that it starts to spill over and you can work at covering the sides. Smooth the top and sides, or make swirly patterns, whatever you like.
I sprinkled on some white chocolate shavings on the edges of my cake, but really, this cake doesn’t require any further adornment.
Serve at room temperature, or if you live in a warm climate, pop it in the fridge for about half an hour for the frosting to set a bit.