Ina Garten's Devil's Food Cake

August 29, 2016


Author Notes: 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.

Reprinted from Cooking for Jeffrey. Copyright © 2016 by Ina Garten. Photographs by Quentin Bacon. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.
Food52

Makes: one 9-inch 4-layer cake; serves 12 to 16

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, such as Pernigotti
  • 3/4 cup hot brewed coffee or espresso
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Coffee Meringue Buttercream (recipe follows)
  • Chocolate espresso beans (for decoration)

For the coffee meringue buttercream:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds (6 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup coffee liqueur, such as Kahlúa
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
In This Recipe

Directions

For the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two 9 × 2-inch round cake pans, line them with parchment paper, then grease and flour the pans. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. On low speed, add the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla and beat until well mixed, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  3. Whisk the cocoa powder and hot coffee together in a small bowl. With the mixer on low, add it into the batter.
  4. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture to the batter, then all the sour cream, then the remaining flour mixture, mixing each addition until combined. With a rubber spatula, fold the batter until it is well mixed.
  5. Divide the batter equally between the two prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, turn out onto a baking rack, and cool completely.
  6. To frost the cakes, slice them in half horizontally with a long, thin knife. Place the bottom of the first cake, cut side up, on a flat serving plate and spread a thin layer of buttercream on the top only (not the sides) with a palette knife. Place the top of the first cake, cut side down, on top and thinly frost the top only. Next, place the top layer of the second cake on top, cut side up, and thinly frost. Finally, place the bottom layer of the second cake, bottom side up (so the top of the cake is flat). Frost the top and sides of the cake.
  7. Heat a palette knife or frosting spatula in hot water, shake off any excess water, and use it to smooth the buttercream on the sides and the top of the cake. Continue heating the palette knife and shaking off the excess water, until the buttercream is smooth. (A revolving cake stand will make it easier.) If there is extra buttercream, fill a pastry bag with it to decorate. Garnish with the chocolate espresso beans.

For the coffee meringue buttercream:

  1. Combine the sugar and 2⁄3 cup of water in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as the sugar dissolves, uncover the pan and place a candy thermometer in the syrup. Cook over high heat until the thermometer registers exactly 240 degrees. (Don’t stir!)
  2. Meanwhile, place the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites on high speed until they form stiff peaks.
  3. Carefully pour the syrup into a 2-cup glass measuring cup. With the mixer still on high, very slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites in a thin, steady stream. Leave the mixer on high for about 1 hour (trust me!), until the mixture is completely at room temperature. (If the mixture isn’t absolutely at room temperature, the butter will melt and deflate the egg whites!)
  4. With the mixer on medium, add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time. If the butter starts to melt, stop and wait for the mixture to cool. With the mixer on low, add the coffee liqueur and vanilla. Do not refrigerate; frost the cake while the buttercream is at room temperature.

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Reviews (9) Questions (0)

9 Reviews

Tante C. April 28, 2018
Italian buttercream does not require an hour to cool. It usually takes 8-10 min max on high before it's cool enough to add the butter, You can feel the bowl. Chop the sticks of butter into cubes keep refrigerated until ready to use. Keeping the mixer on high makes it easier to add them gradually to the egg whites. If the frosting starts to separate don't panic. Keep beating on high until it reincorporated. After butter is added continue beating for 3-4 minutes. I make Italian buttercream for my part time business and have been making it for years. My instructor was a pastry chef from Sprinkles Cupcakes. The first time I made it it deflated and I threw it out. Since then I have had no problems, just keep beating. Or better still read up on Italian Buttercream recipes, it's worth it!
 
ashleyamore December 1, 2017
The second time I made this recipe, my KitchenAid mixer didn't stand up to the 1 hr of high-speed mixing required to cool the meringue. Sadly, the hinge came out, the top fell, and the whisk attachment broke into 8 different pieces. (And my kitchen looks ready for the season, as it is spattered with meringue.) All this to say, next time I'll wrap my bowl in a cool towel and watch the mixer like a hawk. But I won't stop making this recipe, no sir.
 
Michelle April 29, 2017
I left mine in for more than an hour and the egg whites deflated immediately. I live at altitude and wonder if this isn't a factor???
 
Carol S. November 5, 2016
There are 7292 calories in 9 sticks of Butter.<br />although I'm just saying....<br />won't stop me from making it, but that is a LOT of butter!!!!
 
Debbie November 4, 2016
If I frost the cake one day before, should I put it in the fridge?
 
Trishington October 28, 2016
Like Sophia Henkel says, you can place ice packs or even chilled, wet tea towels around the base of the mixing bowl the speed up the cooling of the frosting. It's totally worth it for the resulting texture of this kind of frosting.
 
Shefali C. October 28, 2016
Are we supposed to leave the mixer running on high for 1 whole hour while the sugar syrup and egg white mixture beat up? That seems awfully long ...Im not sure if my kitchen-aid mixer will stand up to that (or my ears lol)
 
Sophia H. October 28, 2016
I have made this kind of buttercream before, yes, it can sometimes that this long or close to it and I have a kitchenaid one way to shorten the fine is if toy can plastic baggies of ice below the bowl, I have done this as well, but you're mixer will be ok.
 
Sophia H. October 28, 2016
Shorten the time!