Chocolate Cake

November 16, 2009

This delicious cake is really an adaptation of Devils Food Cake Cockaigne from my old and tattered copy of The Joy of Cooking.KBP_3877I’ve been baking it for almost every family birthday over the last 20+ years and could probably do it in my sleep.  It gets frosted this time with Chocolate Buttercream.  On other birthdays it becomes German Chocolate.KBP_3865

  • Semisweet Chocolate Squares, 6 ounces
  • Light Brown Sugar, 1 cup
  • Milk, 1/2 cup
  • Egg Yolk
  • Cake Flour, 2 cups
  • Baking Soda, 1 teaspoon
  • Salt, 1/2 teaspoon
  • Butter, 1/2 cup, room temperature
  • Sugar, 1 cup
  • Eggs, 2, separated
  • Milk, 1/2 cup
  • Water, 1/4 cup
  • Vanilla, 1 teaspoon

KBP_3896Combine 1/2 cup milk and one egg yolk.  In small saucepan combine brown sugar and milk/yolk mixture.  Add chocolate squares.KBP_3909Heat over very low heat, stirring occasionally.KBP_3903Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare cake pans.  Pam spray for baking on a nonstick pan is a guarantee that your cakes won’t stick.KBP_3918Combine cake flour, baking soda and salt and whisk together in a bowl.  Set aside.KBP_3929Beat one stick of butter until it’s very light and fluffy.  Continue beating as you gradually add white sugar.KBP_3883Separate two eggs and set the whites aside.  Beat the yolks into the butter/sugar mixture one at a time.

This egg separator has been in the family since probably before I was born.  It was one of the gadgets from my grandmother’s kitchen that I kept after she was gone.  They bring back such memories of learning to cook in her kitchen.KBP_3937The chocolate should be melted and beginning to thicken by now.  Remove it from the heat and set it aside.KBP_3942Combine 1/2 cup milk, 1/4 cup water and a teaspoon of vanilla.KBP_3946Add about a third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed until well blended.KBP_3947Alternate with about a third of the milk mixture.  Blend only until combined.KBP_3966Beat the eggs whites until stiff peaks form.KBP_3968Gently mix the chocolate mixture into the batter.KBP_3975Fold in the egg whites.KBP_3986Divide the batter evenly between two pans.KBP_3992Bake in the center of the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes.KBP_4003Cool on racks.  Frost with your favorite.  My favorite,  a truly decadent Chocolate Buttercream, is coming in the next post.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lori @ RecipeGirl December 11, 2010 at 9:18 am

Would you believe that I have over 250 cookbooks and Joy of Cooking is not among them? Clearly, I need to add that one. Love the action shots!


2 Karen Bove December 11, 2010 at 9:25 am

I love my old and tattered copy, the one before the last revision. I just love the writing as much as the recipes.


3 Chrissy January 3, 2011 at 1:31 pm

I made this cake for my birthday party and everyone absolutely loved it!


4 Robin Birkbeck January 21, 2011 at 10:57 am

Nice job on this one Karen! I particularly like the timer… How cool is that., it would be hard to miss and overcook.


5 August 8, 2011 at 10:36 am

I got a smile out of seeing you wearing pearls while you baked! And I loved the egg separator. Just found your site and look forward to browsing….


6 karenbove August 8, 2011 at 10:42 am

Thanks! There’s a story behind my pearls. Wednesday Love: My Pearls Right now the clasp is broken and I feel so weird without them!


7 Jessica October 13, 2011 at 6:01 pm

I attempted to make this cake, but when I tried to pop it out of the pan in didn’t pop out, so much as completely crumble… I followed the recipe and the only thing I did differently was use crisco and flour on the cake pans because they weren’t non-stick. What could I have done wrong? Any suggestions?


8 karenbove October 13, 2011 at 6:58 pm

I’m so sorry it didn’t turn out! I’m truly not an expert baker so others might have more scientific explanations for why it crumbled. I’ve been using the non-stick pan and Pam combination for so long but I think the non-stick pan is the key, at least for me.


9 Sally Strong October 13, 2011 at 7:09 pm

I always use the trick my mom taught me. Line the bottom of the pan with waxed paper. Just put the round cake pan on a piece (or 2) of waxed paper, Draw a circle around it, cut it out and place it in the bottom of a greased (or sprayed with Pam) pan. When the cake is done, simple run a knife around the edge and gently lift a bit on the bottom of the cake to ensure it’s loosened, then put the rack on top of the pan, tip the whole thing over and the cake is now upside down out of the pan. Remove the waxed paper and if you want, put another rack over the cake and turn it right side up. If you want, you can remove the cake from the pan onto your hand, then flip it, but you run a risk of the cake breaking. The waxed paper thing has always worked for me. As far as crumbling, is the cake dry? I’ve had problems with my oven lately suddenly shooting up to 500+ degrees when set on 350. Things get really dried out if you don’t catch it happening. I’m getting a new oven soon, but I would put a thermometer in your oven and check it occasionally. I hear the “click” when the oven starts to heat up and go crazy on me, so I have to turn it off and reset it. The temp on the oven setting never changes, doesn’t show the heat going up, I only caught it through a separate thermometer placed in the oven. I hope this helps you Jessica.


10 Mary at Deep South Dish October 13, 2011 at 7:50 pm

I’m not expert either by any means but I’ve certainly had plenty of trial and error. A crumbly cake is often a sign of over-beating and/or over-baking due to an incorrect oven temperature. I always use an oven thermometer myself & have found my oven to be widely inaccurate at times. But it is old. Be sure to check and test cake with a toothpick at the center at the earliest time in the recipe or even 5 minutes earlier, then continue checking at 5 minute increments. Cake batters do benefit from a hand mixer too I’ve learned – a bit too easy to over-mix with a powerful stand mixer, less risk of that with a hand mixer. Be sure to add your eggs one at a time so they emulsify before adding the next, and I almost always use large eggs, even when the recipe doesn’t specify. Size does matter in the dryness of a cake. I also almost always use the grease and parchment rounds now when I do a layer cake to avoid sticking cakes. No risk of sticking with that! Hope that helps!


11 Jessica October 13, 2011 at 9:20 pm

Karen: Its quite alright, it was still delicious and every one liked it, even if it wasn’t beautiful. I did have some trouble with the icing being granular and thin too, but I’m a novice baker. I’m still learning. Thank you, none the less!

Sally: The waxed paper sounds like a really good idea. And no the cake wasn’t too dry, it was very very moist, it just didn’t hold together properly.

Mary: Once again, the cake wan’t dry at all, but really moist. Maybe too moist? It didn’t seem to set properly or something. I did, in fact, use a hand mixer, but I didn’t add the eggs one at a time by accident.

I’ll definitely keep everything you guys said in mind, I have a feeling they’ll come in handy. Thank you so much!


12 karenbove October 13, 2011 at 9:36 pm

Sounds like maybe it just needed to bake a little longer. Ovens vary. Testing it with a toothpick is good. I always make sure it springs back quickly when I gently press the center. Here’s more from readers:


13 Mary at Deep South Dish October 19, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Sorry Jessica – I misunderstood apparently since I equate crumbly with dry. If it was overly moist but fell apart my guess would be over-beating, but then again, I’m no expert. Was just trying to offer some possibilities – sorry I misunderstood the problem.


14 Terry April 15, 2012 at 10:09 am

I hope this cake is yummy, because I found the recipe to be very confusing. You did not list all the ingrediaents at the top, throwing in additional milk and eggs in the middle. For an inexperienced baker, I found it a pain. I would rather have the directions and ingred. spelled out with pictures later.



15 karenbove April 15, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Thanks for the input. That recipe is a little confusing because milk and eggs are used in both the custard and the batter base.


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