Violet Bakery Chocolate Devil's Food Cake

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.


  • 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


  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.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Serves 12


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