Violet Bakery Chocolate Devil’s Food Cake

Violet Bakery Chocolate Devil’s Food Cake

What you see here is the Violet Bakery Chocolate Devil's Food Cake. The chocolate factor is deep and strong. The cake itself is rich, moist, and tender. It's exactly what you want when you're craving a homemade chocolate cake - an ace in that regard.

Violet Bakery Chocolate Devil's Food Cake

I love a beautiful, frosted, homemade cake like no one else, but only bake them now-and-then. Because, cake. If it's there, I want to eat it. All of it. More often than not, I throw together quick and easy loaf cakes (like this, this, and this) and call it a day. But a devil's food cake like this one, is special. And worth the extra effort!

Violet Bakery Chocolate Devil's Food Cake

But, because I brought back a beautiful brass cake server from Simon Marks in Jaipur, and because my birthday was just around the corner, and because Claire Ptak's Violet Bakery Cookbook was winking at me, I pulled my favorite mixing bowl from the shelf, and checked to see if I had enough buttermilk. The devil's food cake was meant to be, I had all the ingredients on hand, and shy of the buttermilk, you probably do too.

Violet Bakery Chocolate Devil's Food Cake

The frosting is Claire's Marshmallow Icing, it's also in the same beautiful book. It's billowy, sweet, vanilla-flecked, and a compelling alternative to buttercream. You'll want to put it on the cake, and everything else edible in your life. It's a frosting that pairs beautifully with devil's food cake. I also found myself dipping berries into it, and orange segments, and my fingers.

Violet Bakery Chocolate Devil's Food Cake

Simon, this marshmallow icing reminded me a bit of your incredible cannoli filling at Caffé Palladio. So so so so good!

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Violet Bakery Chocolate Devil's Food Cake

4.16 from 19 votes

Claire smartly notes this is a great "make-ahead" cake. It keeps well for a couple of days. Ideally, you'll want to bake it the night before you want to fill it, giving the crumb a chance to settle. Similarly, it's best to fill the cake and then chill it for a couple of hours before icing the tops and sides. Much easier than frosting a warm, crumbly cake. I iced this one all in one go - after it completely cooled, and after cooling overnight. Important! The cake pictured here was baked in two 6-inch x 3-inch pans. Each cake was divided in half, for the four layers. Note / update - The recipe in the book calls for one 8-inch pan, but a few of you had trouble with batter filling over (I suspect Claire uses 3-inch deep pans). I've updated the recipe to call for two 8-inch pans. Whatever pan size you choose, don't fill more than 2/3 full with batter. *I used a good, mild olive oil here.

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon / 200g all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup / 100g cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 1/4 cups / 450g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons / 200g buttermilk or plain yogurt
  • 7 tablespoons / 100g vegetable oil*
  • 1 cup / 225g hot water
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 320˚F / 160˚C (285˚F / 140˚C convection). Butter and line two 8-inch (20-cm) cake pan with paper, or two 6-inch cake pans (for the four layers you see pictured), or line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners. Whatever pan size you choose, don't fill more than 2/3 full with batter.
  2. Measure the dry ingredients, including the sugar, into a large mixing bowl and whisk with a balloon whisk to distribute the salt, baking soda, and baking powder evenly throughout the other the dry ingredients.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (except for the hot water). Once they are well whisked together, slowly whisk in the hot water.
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour half of the wet mixture. Starting in the middle of the bowl, whisk in a clockwise, circular motion. Don't switch direction or you'll end up with lumps. Gradually add the remaining wet ingredients until you have a smooth, liquid batter.
  5. If you are making a large cake, pour the batter into your pan(s) right away and bake for 40 to 50 minutes until the top is springy to the touch and an inserted skewer comes out clean. If you are making cupcakes, scrape the batter into a container that will fit into your fridge and put a lid on top. Chill the batter for at least one hour. This will thicken it and make it easier to spoon into your cupcake liners. Bake the cupcakes for 18 to 20 minutes, until the tops are springy to the touch and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  6. Decorate your cake or cupcakes with the following Marshmallow Icing.

Notes

Makes one 8-inch (20 cm) cake or 24 cupcakes, serving 12.

Serves
12
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
50 mins
Total Time
1 hr 5 mins
 

Violet Bakery Marshmallow Icing

4.2 from 10 votes

HS: Claire recommends using a candy thermometer here, I use mine quite often, and it's worth the minimal investment.

Ingredients
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 1/4 cups / 450g sugar
  • 1/2 cup / 120g water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out (optional)
Instructions
  1. Have your stand mixer with the whisk attachment at the ready.
  2. Measure all of the ingredients into the metal bowl of the stand mixer and place over a pan of boiling water (do not let the water touch the bottom of the bowl or it will cook the egg whites). Whisk continuously until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is very warm to the touch. If using a candy thermometer, whisk continuously for two minutes or until it reads 158˚F to 167˚F (70˚C to 75˚C), whichever comes first. Transfer the bowl to your mixer and whisk on high speed until nearly stiff peaks form.
  3. Put the icing into a piping bag with a large round tip (or use a spoon) and pipe (or spoon) large blobs onto your cooled cake or cupcakes. For this cake I iced between the layers, did a thin crumb layer next, and then used a big offset spatula to ice the sides and top.
Notes

Recipe from The Violet Bakery Cookbook by Claire Ptak (Ten Speed Press, 2015)

Serves
12
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Comments

  • Hello Heidi. Is there a specific type or brand of chocolate that you like to use with this recipe? Thank you very much! Namiko

    namiko
    • Hi Namiko, I love to bake with Guittard - family-owned, SF based, wonderful cocoa & chocolate.

      Heidi Swanson
  • I've made this cake at least five times since you posted it. It's a winner, both as a simple, unfrosted loaf cake (half recipe) or layered with that amazing marshmallow frosting. I have trouble with it sinking, though...not sure how to solve that but it tastes great anyway!

    Dora
  • Can you make the frosting ahead of time?

    Donna Ford
  • I made this for a party this weekend. It is now my go-to chocolate cake. Delicious: rich, moist, very dark. The marshmallow frosting was as billowing as advertised. It was a hit. I didn't have golden syrup and went without it. The cake was amazing anyway.

    Taste of France
  • That frosting looks utterly divine, love your pictures as always! And that brass cake server is a thing of beauty, I'll have to see if he can ship to the UK...

    Sarah
  • When I entertain I usually make recipes I know. But I am going to try this out for a party this weekend. Will let you know how it goes. If it at least LOOKS as good as this, it will be a success.

    Taste of France
  • I made this for my husband's birthday and it was amazing! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    Sue
  • I made this to take to work for a co-workers last day and flavour-wise it was a hit! It suffered a near-catastrophic structural failure on the drive to work though - the marshmallow frosting, while delicious, is pretty soft and the vibration of the car very gently vibrated the top layer of the cake off to the side... so I had to do some emergency re-assembly and it ended up looking very homemade, haha. No one minded though - it was really good! And considering the amount of sugar in this recipe (A LOT, but hey it's dessert!) everyone commented that it was neither overly sweet nor heavy. Delicious! But next time I won't plan to transport this cake anywhere ;)

    Korena
  • I was so excited to make this cake mostly for the fluffy icing. With many successful meringues under my belt I decided to beat it by hand (no stand mixer or eggbeater in my kitchen ). Infinite beating did little to fluff up the runny mixture. Don't cut corners on the equipment here!

    Bee
  • Hi there, That cake looks so scrumptious. I am a baker from Delhi and running my own online cake shop. I will follow your recipe and your website as well. great work...

    Raushan
  • Ughhhhh - this cake keeps eluding me. I tried it as 1 six inch and 12 cupcakes. The six inch turned out great. It's in the freezer for future use - I kinda hope it freezes okay. The cupcakes were a disaster. They completely fell apart. Then, I looked at the original recipe (printed out at the time of publication) and saw 1 eight inch cake pan. It's currently in the oven, filled over halfway (it's got 3 inch sides thank god). Now I see the recipe has been changed to two 8 inch cake pans. But how can a recipe fill both two eight inch or two six inch? Here's also what I know - this recipe makes a TON of batter. Even after filling one six inch and 12 cupcakes yesterday, I still had a ton. Today, with my 1 eight inch, I could have easily filled two. If I were making six inches, I could have filled four! Oh well, we'll see if this single giant cake turns out. Kinda bummed, tho. The crumbs from the fallen cupcakes were in fact delicious.

    Kathryryn
    • Hi Kathryryn - I had success using two 6-inch x 3-inch pans. People using 8-inch pans that are only 2-inches deep are having overflow problems (I suspect they need to update the book in a future printing)...I've updated the instructions to two 8-inch pans, based on feedback. But yeah - the 6-inch pans were used for the photos you see here.

      Heidi Swanson
  • I made this in 8 inch pans and they completely ran over ...

    Kelly R.
  • I tried making these as cupcakes and they didn't turn out very well. The flavor is good, but they were sunk in the middle and spilled over the edge, despite portioning into 24 cupcakes as described. Not sure what happened, but I would recommend this as full cake rather than cupcakes unfortunately.

    Greg Sindberg
  • Just in time for my husband's birthday! I made this cake using 2/3 cup Dutch cocoa and 1/3 cup super-dark cocoa and it turned out gorgeously dark, almost black, and very tender and delicious. It did sink in the center but that will be covered by ice cream (rather than frosting--his request). Bookmarking this one.

    doradee
  • I made as cupcakes. Because the frosting is egg white based, do you need to keep it in the fridge? How long does it keep?

    HS: Hi Sara - Yes, I keep it all refrigerated.

    Sara
  • For those who don't know what golden syrup is; In NZ, the UK and Australia it is an everyday baking ingredient found in all supermarkets. Seems to be not the same in North America. However fear not it is easy to make your own. There are a few tutorials on YouTube but one of the best isTodd's Kitchen.

    anniem
  • Golden syrup is a by product from making sugar. It is similar to treacle, but a bit sweeter. It is also sometimes called light treacle. Its an essential ingredient in ANZAC biscuits ; ) Is the icing shelf stable for a couple of days? Hi Calex - Thanks! I had leftover icing in the fridge for a couple of days and it seemed perfectly fine. But I would recommend frosting the cake, ideally, the same day you're planning on serving it.

    Calex
  • this is perfection in cake form! What is this "golden syrup" you speak of??

    april
  • I love that you bake a cake just so you can use your beautiful brass cake server, and create photos of memory and art. I do something similar with sentimental glasses or plates and tea cups. I think this cake is definitely worthy of the last of the goat kefir in the frig and I'm positive my husband would not complain one bit! Now about that golden syrup - any substitutions for that, or is it something I can make in advance? Off to do a search on it. Thanks for the beauty this rainy morning.

    Janet
  • Perfect Mother's Day treat. It looks so tasty! P.s. Happy soon birthday!

    Anna Gerard
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