The Fall Cookbook Cake Parade

If Ina Garten Bakes This Cake for Jeffrey, It's Good Enough for Us

October 28, 2016

It's the last day of The Fall Cookbook Cake Parade: a new cake from a new cookbook every single day. We're ending with the food of love: a superlative devil's food cake from Cooking for Jeffrey.

The perfect cake mostly exists in daydreams and on supermarket boxes: utterly moist and, somehow simultaneously light and rich, with an incredibly tender crumb, all swathed in icing that's creamy and fluffy but not so sugary it makes your teeth hurt. Layered. Perfect-slicing.

It comes as no surprise, of course, that Ina Garten—the Barefoot Contessa, for crying out loud!—would be the one to master it. This recipe comes from her latest cookbook, Cooking for Jeffrey. And she knows it's good:

This cake is a showstopper! I bake the cakes one day and make the buttercream and assemble the cakes the next so it is not too daunting. I adore the combination of moist chocolate cake and lighter-than-air buttercream.

It would have to be a showstopper to be Jeffrey-worthy, no? Make it for us and win our hearts forever. (Seriously.)

Gratefully excerpted from Cooking for Jeffrey.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Jon
  • Ron Svetgoff
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  • Virginia
  • Marcelle
Writing and cooking in Brooklyn.


Jon November 9, 2023
Leave the mixer on high for one hour for the frosting? Yeah, right. No way!
Ron S. July 31, 2022
Sorry, not making any cake with four cups of sugar!! Period. That's unhealthy.
FrugalCat January 17, 2022
This was very easy to halve. I baked in cupcake pans lined with silicone liners. We are not a big frosting household- I actually just used whipped cream on top.
Virginia December 28, 2021
This was my first attempt to make a multi-layered cake for my husband’s birthday. It came out well, finally making a three layered cake. I really could not justify the insanity of Ina’s buttercream with one and a half pounds of butter and six eggs! I found an alternative recipe for Italian buttercream online which was just whipped up egg whites and I added Kaluha to add the coffee element but beware that the sweetness of a lecure adds to the sweetness of the buttercream! The buttercream was light and fluffy but did deflate after a day or so…none the less the cake was a big hit and it had an impressive ‘stage’ presence. I doubt I will attempt this again, there is just no need to make basic chocolate sponge cake so over-indulgent and so high in calories! However, I may use it to inspire a much healthier vegan version.
Marcelle April 24, 2020
Was ina trying to kill her husband????
Karen B. February 16, 2018
I made the cake once and it came out perfect! I have made the buttercream three times (it's becoming a person challenge that I MUST master!) I followed the recipe to the T...all tree times and It just is not coming out. Everything is going great util it's time to add the butter. The meringue was PERFECT but once the butter started to mix in it became liquid-ish and the butter was not creaming into the meringue. The butter was room temperature and soft to the touch but still in the form of a stick. I am truly at a loss as to what I have done incorrectly. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Marnie G. December 22, 2018
Keep mixing! It takes like 10 minutes for it to come back to the right consistency. If your butter gets too soft, just pop the bowl into the fridge for 5-10 minutes and go back to mixing.
frizz April 10, 2017
Made this cake today, and I have one tip and then an abbreviated review:
About Italian Meringue Buttercream (IMBC) -- You do not need to take an hour to cool the meringue. I have a laser thermometer, and it cooled from over 130 degrees to 81.5 degrees in 15 minutes. It took another five to get it to 80 degrees. At that point I stopped. The sides of the bowl were cool (the way I've seen this described in other IMBC recipes), and the buttercream was exactly as it should be -- light and luscious.

In the end, I don't think I'd make this cake again. It just wasn't any better than my traditional "dump and bake" chocolate cakes with oil and buttermilk. I will say that my partner, who doesn't particularly love chocolate anything, liked this cake. But for me, it was "meh," so definitely not worth the extra work.
Julie February 24, 2017
Please, please publish all your recipes with weight, metric and imperial!
Thank you
JoJo December 31, 2016
This cake is amazing in taste and very beautiful. It is for the advanced baker and it is a good idea to take the advice of Ina and bake the cake one day and make the icing the next day. The icing is unbelievably! And yes, I was very concerned about the amount of butter and running my mixer for an hour. But,I did it and the outcomes was outrageous! It is a very special cake for a very special event!
Winslow D. November 5, 2016
After seeing that recipe, I have to conclude she wants to kill Jeffrey. 😋
Rosa S. November 4, 2016
Can anyone please tell me is it 350 or we're is the rest of the recipe,thank you
Judy S. November 5, 2016
At the top of the ingredient list next to the photo, click on the word "recipe" which will take you to a new page with everything you need.
Melanie H. October 28, 2016
Frosting. Leave the mixer on high for an hour? Will this overheat and damage my mixer?
Maureen P. January 9, 2017
It shouldn't - especially with a KitchenAid.
W_Navidson June 15, 2017
I have made this cake twice and the second time it broke my KitchenAid mixer , which was less than two months old.
Jon November 9, 2023
sandra October 28, 2016
OMG!!!! I could NEVER make a cake recipe that uses 9 sticks of butter. 😛
Kt October 31, 2016
It's actually 3 sticks of butter. I agree- 9 would have been ridiculous!
Sandra October 31, 2016
Not the way I read it. The cake has three sticks and if you make the buttercream frosting it has an additional six sticks for a total of nine.
Debbi S. October 28, 2016
I bought this book last week solely for this here it is free (lol). I have tried the lamb stew with vegetables, the roasted salmon tacos and of course, jeffery's cake shown here! I love this cookbook! Everything is delicious!