Bake / Cook

Why Ugly Cake Tastes Better – The Devil [‘s Food] is In The Details

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Amelia and I bake a lot of cakes.  Mostly special requests from family members or more decorative cakes for special occasions.  But after all of the fancy decorations come off it’s all just the same basic stuff on the inside – cake.  But why did the “ugly” cake you cooked last week to “just eat” (which you didn’t even bother taking out of the 9×13 pan it was cooked in) taste so much better than the fancy decorative cake you ate at your cousin’s wedding last month?  One word – refrigeration.  I generally dislike refrigeration of all baked goods – breads, biscuits, tortillas, even pizza crust.  Refrigeration does something to an otherwise delicate structure that simply reheating to room temperature can’t correct.  But when it comes to cake decorating, especially with buttercream, refrigeration is key to help solidify the buttercream details.  Without it, on a hot summer day, an otherwise gorgeous wedding cake would be a soupy mess before the couple could even say “I do.”

So, after so many fancy cakes over the holidays, last week I had to have one just to eat.  Nothing fancy.  Simple torted layers of Devil’s food cake, filled with homemade hot fudge and [barely] detailed with Swiss Buttercream frosting.  A gooey hot mess of a cake that I didn’t even shave the sides of.  Didn’t need to since I wasn’t going to bother frosting them anyway.

I wish you an ugly cake!  Dig in!

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Devil’s Food Cake

6.5 ounces dark chocolate (I usually mix Cadbury dark with some 85 or 90% dark)
4 oz sugar
½ cup milk
3 eggs, separated
1 stick unsalted butter
8 oz brown sugar
1 tsp salt
10 oz flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
¼ cup cold coffee
½ cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.  In your stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream together butter, brown sugar and salt, reserving butter wrapper to grease pan(s) – around 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a double boiler over medium heat, combine egg yolks, sugar, chocolate and milk, whisking intermittently until mixture is thick and smooth.  Remove from heat to cool.

Double-sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda.  In a small bowl, combine buttermilk, vanilla, eggs whites and coffee.

Once chocolate mixture is cooled, mix into sugar/butter mixture until fully combined, scraping sides of the bowl part way through.

Add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture in three alternating parts, beginning with dry and ending with wet, scraping down bowl after each addition. (1/3 dry, 1/3 wet, 1/3 dry, 1/3 wet, 1/3 dry, 1/3 wet).  Once fully combined, scrape down sides of bowl.  Mix for one minute on medium, scrape sides again and mix for another two minutes on high.

Rub reserved butter wrapper on pan(s), then line with parchment pressing tightly to bottom and sides of pan.  Pour batter until pan is 2/3 full and bake for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let cool 15 minutes before removing from pan.  Let cool completely before frosting (or don’t).

Makes two 8-inch rounds, one 9×13 or 24 cupcakes.  If making cupcakes, there is no need to grease the pans before putting in cupcake papers.

Eat Well!


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