Devil's Food Cake

If you say the words Devil’s Food Cake in front of some people, their eyes will noticeably light up and their chins will lift as though they are ready to spring into action. It’s just one of those cakes with a true and devoted fan base, and if you’ve ever had good Devil’s Food Cake, you surely understand why.

What is Devil’s Food Cake?

For starters yes, it’s a chocolate cake. But what makes Devil’s Food Cake Devil’s Food Cake? The most basic answer is that it’s made with cocoa powder, which is intensely chocolately, and always contains baking soda. The baking soda helps activate the cocoa powder, which makes the cake a deeper chocolately brown color, and emphasizes the rich chocolate flavor. It is also moister and more tender than many chocolate cakes, in this cake partly thanks to the sour cream…..(and butter and eggs, of course).

Devil's Food Cake

Coffee is also a common addition to many Devil’s Food Cake recipes, in addition to or instead of milk or another liquid. I love the way hot coffee elevates the chocolate flavor—you don’t taste the coffee, really, but it amplifies the chocolatiness of the cake.  

Why is it Called Devil’s Food Cake?

As for the name – Devil’s because it’s sinfully delicious? Because it the opposite of white and fluffy Angel’s Food Cake? In years gone by, beets were sometimes added to Devil’s Food cake, which also give the cake a reddish tinge – which also may have contributed to the name. I skipped those.

Devil's Food Cake

Traditional vs. Gluten Free

When I first made this cake, I was fulfilling my Devil’s Food Cake Life Goal with the traditional all-purpose flour from Bob’s Red Mill, as part of an ongoing relationship with this very fine company.

Founded in 1978, Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods is an employee-owned company specializing in stone-ground whole grain flours and other nutritious, organic and gluten-free foods. I’ve actually met Bob – and yes, there is a real Bob, and yes he wears a red vest! And is as charming as you would hope Bob from Bob’s Red Mill would be.

Devil's Food Cake

If you are a whole-grains-foods-type of person, then no doubt you have a BRM ingredient or two in your pantry, and if you go to this section of a high quality market, you may have seen the wall of products that they offer. In the flour arena alone, they are super impressive: Almond Flour, Cassava Flour, Whole Wheat Flours, Gluten Free Flours, and more….you need a flour, they’ve got your flour.

So, the second time I made this cake I tried their Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour, because even though I am not gluten-free, I surely know a lot of people who are. And I’m always curious if a gluten free baked good can be as delicious as a gluten-full version. As the name suggests, you simply sub it in for “regular” flour, on a 1 to 1 ratio, and need to do no additional tweaking to the recipe. It was completely delicious, turned out perfectly, and if I didn’t know it was gluten-free, I wouldn’t have known it was gluten free. And I never mentioned it was gluten free to my family, and they just said, “Great cake, ma.”

Devil's Food Cake

How Long to Bake

This cake bakes for at least 45 minutes, because they are baked in an 8-inch pan, and the layers are thick. Mine were done at 55 minutes. To test for doneness, insert a wooden skewer in the middle of the cake and pull it out. There should be only a crumb or two clinging to it, but no undercooked batter. If you choose to bake these in 9-inch round pans the baking time will be a bit shorter; start testing the cakes at 40 minutes.

How to Frost Devil’s Food Cake

And you can go in a number of directions with the frosting, but I decided to pick a lane and press down on the pedal. So, Chocolate Buttercream. And lots of it.

Devil's Food Cake

How to Make the Drippy Sauce Topping

And then you can go one step further, if you like. Truly gild the lily. A generous pour of chocolately sauce on the top, intentionally dripping down the sides makes this Devil’s Food Cake to beat. I used a mocha sauce, leaning in to the chocolate coffee thing all the way.

If you would like to add the topping, make sure the top is very smooth. Warm the sauce until it is pourable, but still thick and pour it slowly in a circle over the top working your way towards the edges.  

Devil's Food Cake

Use a spoon, knife or offset spatula to help the topping drip over the sides in random spots.  This will create gorgeous chocolatey drips.

Devil's Food Cake

Cut into slices, serve, and modestly accept all of the compliments that will be coming your way.

I am pretty sure this is the best chocolate cake I have ever made.

Devil's Food Cake

Other Fantastic Chocolate Recipes:

Devil’s Food Cake

Rich and chocolatey and hits all the best notes. The fudgy topping over the chocolate buttercream is truly easy yet optional (but you know you want it).
Yield: 12 People
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Cooling Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes


  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature, plus more for the pans
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for the pans OR Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour
  • cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • cup hot brewed coffee
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 recipe Chocolate Buttercream
  • cup Chocolate Fudge or Mocha Sauce approximately


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter two 8-inch round baking pans, then place a round of parchment, cut to fit neatly inside, on the bottom of each pan, and butter the parchment. Add a couple of tablespoons of flour to one of the pans and tilt the pan so that the inside gets completely lightly coated with flour. Turn the remaining flour into the second pan and repeat. Turn the pans over and gently tap out all excess flour.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and coffee. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the 2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a large bowl, place the butter and sugar. Beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time. Beat in the vanilla. Scape down the sides and add the coffee mixture. Beat until incorporated.
  • Add half of the dry ingredients, and blend until almost incorporated, then add the sour cream and beat until almost incorporated, then add the remaining dry ingredients, and continue beating until everything is well blended. Scrape down the sides and beat for a few more seconds.
  • Divide the mixture evenly between the two prepared pans and bake for 45 to 55 minutes (if you use a 9-inch cake pan, start checking at 40 minutes), until a wooden skewer inserted in the middle of the pan comes out pretty clean (no undercooked batter attached!)
  • Cool the cakes in the pans on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes, then carefully turn them out and cool completely on wire racks.
  • To assemble the cake, place one cake layer upside down on a round of cardboard or a flat plate.  Using an offset spatula or a butter knife frost the top of the with a generous layer ofthe Chocolate Buttercream.  Place the second cake layer upside down on top of the bottom layer, and frost the top and the sides of the cake of the with a thin layer of the Chocolate Buttercream.   Place the cake in the freezer for 15 minutes, or in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to firm up the thin layer of frosting.
  • Remove the cake from the fridge and frost the top and the sides with a generous layer of buttercream, making it as smooth or as swoopy as you like.
  • If you would like to add the topping, make sure the top is very smooth. Warm the sauce until it is pourable, but still thick and pour it slowly in a circle over the top working your way towards the edges.  Use a spoon, knife or offset spatula to help the topping drip over the sides in random spots, to create gorgeous chocolatey drips. Place the cake in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to firm up the sauce.
  • Cut into slice, serve, and modestly accept all of the compliments that will be coming your way.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 488.23kcal | Carbohydrates: 69.01g | Protein: 5.84g | Fat: 22.55g | Saturated Fat: 13.36g | Cholesterol: 91.73mg | Sodium: 383.89mg | Potassium: 237.48mg | Fiber: 2.62g | Sugar: 45.39g | Vitamin A: 651.54IU | Vitamin C: 0.17mg | Calcium: 71.74mg | Iron: 2.2mg

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  1. This was purely amazing. I added the topping, and also added sea salt and chopped dark chocolate wafers over top. This will be my go to when bringing a cake to family get togethers!

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