At first this cake made me mad, and I thought I was going to have to go on some kind of diatribe about how from-scratch cakes never turn out as well for me as a good ‘ole boxed cake mix. The cakes came out of the oven a little flat, lopsided and crumbly (when I tried to remove them from the pans). And the icing consistency seemed more like cement until I added a few extra tablespoons of milk. All frosted up I just thought it looked sort of sad. Also, way too light in color for a devil’s food cake, which in my experience (and that would be the phenomenal version at the nearby Drake Diner, where they also toss the cake into vanilla shakes for the most decadent dessert of all time) is supposed to be dark, dark, dark.
But then I tasted the cake. And holy crap was it good.
It is dense, moist, sweet but not too sweet. Could it even be a contender for wedding cake?
I think the only problem was that it needed to be baked in narrower pans. And obviously the frosting needed a little adjustment. But one of my big complaints about cake is that either the frosting tastes way too sweet or there is way too much of it. This made just the perfect amount of delish frosting for a 2-layer cake. And I bet if I sprung for some high-quality dark chocolate squares instead of cocoa powder I would have the genuinely super-dark cake I was looking for.
In short, Betty knows her shizz, and she wants you to make this cake.
Devil’s food cake
from Betty Crocker’s New Cookbook, with a few adjustments
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 2/3 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable shortening
2/3 cup baking cocoa
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs
Chocolate buttercream frosting
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup baking cocoa
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 to 5 tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 2 round baking pans.
Beat all cake ingredients in a mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, scrape the sides, then turn it up to medium speed for 3 minutes. The recipe called for high speed, but I couldn’t get it past medium without spewing batter all over my kitchen, and the consistency seemed fine.
Ultimately it looked like this.
Pour into pans and bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in the pan, then move the cakes onto a flat surface. A wire rack did not work well for me since the cakes were so moist.
Also, my camera battery died so I have no more photos of the process.
For the frosting, combine all ingredients in your mixer on low speed and adjust the amount of milk to desired thickness. I have a small offset spatula that I always use for frosting cakes, and I love it.
I think there is a lesson here, and that is that sometimes the process is messy but the final product is good. Don’t judge a lopsided cake until the first bite!