06 April 2008

Devil's Food Cake with Brown Sugar Buttercream

March/April, my favorite time of the year. No, really - it is! Mainly because of that lovely event known as March Madness. Our team's a contender every year, something I'm oh-so proud of. This year we've battled our way to the Championship Game tomorrow night, and I'm on pins and needles. Maybe this is our year. I'm holding my breath and crossing my fingers, as it's been awhile since my alma mater won the whole thing.

One terrible thing about this year, though, is that it's been so darn busy. There are all the KU games to watch at the local pub with our friends and family, for one thing. Then there was Easter so early this year. And business travel. I've had a potluck or two to attend, but get embarrassed taking pictures at those type of things, so they can't be blogged about. Work's been pretty hectic, too. This all adds up to: there hasn't been a ton for me to blog about. I've been relying on things I've made long ago and have in the queue for some time now.

Because of all this: I've seriously missed my kitchen and baking. So today, I thought, I'll make something just for the heck of it. A cake, that's what I'm making. And something out of a cookbook, maybe one I haven't picked up in awhile. Enter the Devil's Food Cake and Brown Sugar Buttercream from my trusty copy of the Gourmet cookbook. A classic recipe, so says Ruth Reichl, and the buttercream is supposed to be pretty darn good too. Well then: devil's food cake it is. So this afternoon I measured and whisked and frosted to my heart's content. Ah, it was so nice.

I decorated my cake with a chocolate transfer from Fancy Flours, and whisked in some sifted cocoa powder to my leftover buttercream to color the piped border. This is a nice, classic chocolate cake, it's moist and soft with a rounded chocolate flavor (nothing overpowering or too sweet). The buttercream is very good as well - a sweet, thick, and very buttery concoction with a deep brown sugar flavor. A good compliment to the milder cocoa-flavored cake. It's a fantastic basic cake recipe to have in your arsenal, so I really recommend you give it a try.

Oh, yeah - one last thing: Rock Chalk, Jayhawk! GO KU! Here's the madness that was our "main drag", aka Mass St., last night. Can't wait until tomorrow :) Hopefully I run into my fellow Daring Baker Meryl again, who I met for the first time last night in the midst of madness...

Devil's Food Cake with Brown Sugar Buttercream
(From The Gourmet Cookbook, 2004)


Devil's Food Cake:
1 c. boiling water
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
1/2 c. whole milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 sticks (1 c.) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 c. packed dark brown sugar
3/4 c. granulated sugar
4 large eggs

Brown Sugar Buttercream:
3 large egg whites at room temperature
3/4 tsp. salt
1 c. packed dark brown sugar
1/2 c. water
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
3 sticks (1 1/2 c.) unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened
2 tsp.vanilla

For cake:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter three 8 X 2-in. round cake pans and line bottoms of each with rounds of wax or parchment paper. Butter paper and dust pans with flour, knocking out excess.

Whisk together boiling water and cocoa powder in a bowl until smooth, then whisk in milk and vanilla. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt in another bowl.

Beat together butter and sugars in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, then add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in flour and cocoa mixtures alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture (batter may look curdled).

Divide batter among pans, smoothing tops. Bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of pans halfway through baking, until a tester comes out clean and layers begin to pull away from sides of pans, 20 to 25 minutes total. Cool layers in pans on racks 10 minutes, then invert onto racks, remove wax paper, and cool completely.

Combine egg whites and salt in a large bowl.

Stir together brown sugar and water in a small heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over moderately high heat, washing down side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in water.

When sugar syrup reaches boil, start beating whites with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until frothy, then add lemon juice and beat at medium speed until whites just hold soft peaks. (Do not beat again until sugar syrup is ready.)

Meanwhile, put candy thermometer into sugar syrup and continue boiling until syrup reaches 238–242 F. Immediately remove from heat and pour into a heatproof 1-cup glass measure. Slowly pour hot syrup in a thin stream down side of bowl into egg whites, beating constantly at high speed. Beat meringue, scraping down bowl with a rubber spatula, until meringue is cool to the touch, about 6 minutes. (It’s important that meringue is properly cooled before proceeding.)

With mixer at medium speed, gradually add butter 1 piece at a time, beating well after each addition until incorporated. (If meringue is too warm and buttercream looks soupy after some of butter is added, briefly chill bottom of bowl in a large bowl filled with ice water for a few seconds before continuing to beat in remaining butter.) Continue beating until buttercream is smooth. (Mixture may look curdled before all of butter is added, but will come back together before beating is finished.) Add vanilla and beat 2 minutes more.

To assemble:
Put 1 cake layer, rounded side up, on a cake plate and spread with about 1 cup buttercream. Top with another cake layer, rounded side up, and spread with another cup buttercream. Top with remaining cake layer and frost top and sides of cake with remaining buttercream.


Peabody said...

So beautiful!

Gretchen Noelle said...

I am super impressed by that top decoration. You would probably say it is some super simple thing, but seeing as I haven't seen it before, I am impressed!

Thank you for another Devil's Food cake recipe. I made one a couple weeks ago and was sorely disappointed and knew I needed to hunt another one down. I will give this one a go.

Anonymous said...

I'm so curious about those chocolate transfers...and I just love the look of this cake with the fancy design on top! Inspired!

Karlz + Ma said...

That looks stunning, lovely work!! :)

grace said...

i'm ashamed to admit that i've been known to eat brown sugar buttercream with a spoon. i've learned to double the recipe when i'm making a cake like this because a lot of the icing ends up in my belly.

did i say ashamed? i meant proud. :)

Anonymous said...

That cake is beautiful!

Ginny said...

Even though we disagree on our basketball team...I must say yall deserved to win against my Heels (they just couldn't pull it together...I was sad!). I wish I could have a piece of your cake to drown my sorrows in...looks great! Good Luck tonight!

Brilynn said...

That looks awesome! I was just looking at transfer papers the other day, wondering if I would actually use them, but if it makes a cake look this good, I certainly would.

Tarah at Genesis of a Cook said...

Such a beautiful cake!!

Nemmie said...

Thanks Pea!

Gretchen - get yourself some chocolate transfers (fancyflours.com rocks, has tons). And try this cake.

Karen - thanks! Give the transfers a whirl, they are worth it.

pinkeagle - thank you!

Grace - I didn't quite have as much buttercream as I needed either, I think I know what you're talking about ;)

ann - thank you!

ginny - I think that match-up was bittersweet for both teams. Both had their ups and downs, the Hawks were just lucky to have theirs at the beginning and end of the games. Sending virtual cake your way...

Brilynn - the transfers aren't hard, waiting for them to set is the hardest part (I'm not known for my patience). Buy some and play!

Patricia Scarpin said...

This is absolutely stunning, Nemmie! What a beautiful cake! Love the transfer.

Deborah said...

What a gorgeous cake! I've been wanting to try one of those transfers, but haven't yet. You've just inspired me!

Selfhuggingjack said...

Looks amazing, might make something similar for my fiance's birthday this saturday

Anonymous said...

What a lovely cake and thanks for the recipe.

Go Jayhawks!!!!!

Sandy in Cincinnati

Jerry said...

OH MY GOD! This is beeeeautiful!

Meryl said...

It was nice to finally get to meet you too! Hopefully we'll have the chance to bump into each other again...in 6 or 7 hours or so!

Rock Chalk!

Helene said...

Heheh! Those chocolate transfers are my bestfriends for truffles!! The cake looks wonderful and the brown sugar buttercream looks delicious!

Megan said...

Did you put a disc of chocolate on top of the cake or what did you transfer onto? I tried this once on some ganache and it didn't work. :(

Catherine Wilkinson said...

It's not often I see such a beautiful cake and then want to do it myself! I'm just too...lazy and intimidated...but, this! So beautiful, I have GOT to get that transfer...! Thank you

Anonymous said...

HOLY COW! This is the prettiest cake EVER!!! Amazing.

Great game last night - I can't believe they won it! It must have been wild there after the OT.

xoxox Amy

Mandy said...

hello! I discover your blog from Tastespotting. Nice blog!

Anonymous said...

So very very beautiful and I bet it tasted gorgeous too.

Devils Food Cake is my favourite choc cake ever and that looks a stunner.

Anonymous said...

What a yummy cake!! What a goodness!!

Britt said...


Just Googling for fancy cakes and was excited to find another KU fan! I watched the final game on the jumbotron at the Fieldhouse and was on Mass for the insanity afterwards. It was great!

Unknown said...

Welcome to Gelato Supply Australia's leading manufacturer and supplier of
Gelato pans, cones, spoons, ice cream scoop freezer, pan liners and much more.

deepak verma said...

If you are a good looking and want to grow yourself with good wealth in the term of money work as a Female Escorts Job in Noida, then you are welcome in our Call Girls job in Noida agency, to start your work as Female escorts. We are now hiring a good and decent Charming Call Girls for Escorts Girl Job in Noida,

Part time or Full time Escorts Job in Delhi, first of all u have to send your profile. We are the oldest and genuine Female escort’s agency who provide and hiring girls for Female Escorts Job in Noida in all over India and we never disclose your identity and your protection is our responsibility so just go ahead and join us for the splendid time work as a Call Girls job in Noida. we have also Escorts Girl Job in Noida openings.