DEVIL’S FOOD CAKE

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 trail of crumbs.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

INGREDIENTS

Serves: 10-12METRICCUPS

FOR THE CAKE

  • 50 grams best-quality cocoa powder (sifted)
  • 100 grams dark brown muscovado sugar
  • 250 millilitres boiling water
  • 125 grams soft unsalted butter (plus some for greasing)
  • 150 grams caster sugar
  • 225 grams plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs

FOR THE FROSTING

  • 125 millilitres water
  • 30 grams dark brown muscovado sugar
  • 175 grams unsalted butter (cubed)
  • 300 grams best-quality dark chocolate (finely chopped)

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/gas mark 4/350°F.
  2. Line the bottoms of two 20cm / 8inch round sandwich tins with baking parchment and butter the sides.
  3. Put the cocoa and 100g / half cup dark muscovado sugar 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; I find this easiest with a freestanding mixer, but by hand wouldn’t kill you.
  5. While this is going on – or as soon as you stop if you’re mixing by hand – stir the flour, baking powder and bicarb together in another bowl, and set aside for a moment.
  6. Dribble the vanilla extract into the creamed butter and sugar – mixing all the while – then drop in 1 egg, quickly followed by a scoopful of flour mixture, then the second egg.
  7. Keep mixing and incorporate the rest of the dried ingredients for the cake, then finally mix and fold in the cocoa mixture, scraping its bowl well with a spatula.
  8. Divide this fabulously chocolatey batter between the 2 prepared tins and put in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  9. Take the tins out and leave them on a wire rack for 5–10 minutes, before turning the cakes out to cool.
  10. But as soon as the cakes are in the oven, get started on your frosting: put the water, 30g / 2 tablespoons muscovado sugar and 175g / 1 1/2 sticks butter in a pan over a low heat to melt.
  11. 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.
  12. Leave for about 1 hour, whisking now and again – when you’re passing the pan – by which time the cakes will be cooled, and ready for the frosting.
  13. Set one of the cooled cakes, with its top side down, on a cake stand or plate, and spread with about a third of the frosting, then top that with the second cake, regular way up, and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides, swirling away with your spatula. You can go for a smooth look, but I never do and probably couldn’t.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

You may prefer to prepare this the other way round from me, and get the frosting underway before you make the cakes. Either way, read the recipe through before you start cooking (I shouldn’t have to remind) to get the shape of things in your head, not least because the frosting is softer, stickier than you may be used to. While you’re making it, don’t panic. The mixture will seem very runny for ages once the chocolate has melted and you will think you have a liquid gleaming glaze, beautiful but unfit for purpose; leave it for about an hour, as stipulated, though, and it will be perfect and spreadable. It never quite dries to the touch, but this is, in part, what makes the cake so darkly luscious.

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