Devil’s Food Cake (Layered Chocolate Cake)

My husband would have turned 76 yesterday. This marks the start of our 12 days of Christmas and it is a family tradition to bake a Devil’s Food Cake despite having a name at odds with the season. My husband used to quote the Bible and then joke that even the devil may quote scriptures so I thought this would be very apt for his birthday. I found this recipe in a book called Family Cook Book (with 2,023 recipes!) that I bought at the 1986 Chennai Book Fair for Rs. 47 which I borrowed from a friend. I’ve been baking this cake ever since for many occasions and the page on the cookbook is covered in coco powder as a testament to this.

Devils Food Cake 3 - Kalas Kalai

Devil’s Food Cake (Layered Chocolate Cake)

Contrary to other chocolate cakes, this cake uses only ½ cup of butter and 3 eggs. Therefore if you do not ice/frost the cake it is protein rich with moderate fat content. Here I have frosted the cake with butter icing and layered it as well, making the fat content zoom. Still, it is not as rich or heavy as the chocolate cake that you may typically find in a bakery.


For the Cake

  • 1 ¾ C sifted Maida (Cake Flour)
  • 1 ½ C Sugar
  • 1 ¼ tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • ½ C Coco Powder (Cadbury’s or Hershey’s)
  • 1 C Milk
  • ½ C Butter
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Essence
  • Butter and Flour for greasing

For the Icing/Frosting

  • 2-3 C Icing Sugar
  • ½ – ¾ C unsalted/cooking butter, or more
  • ¼ C Coco Powder
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Essence
  • 1 tsp Strong Black Coffee/½ tsp Instant Coffee Powder



  1. Sift flour, baking soda, and coco powder together.
  2. Cream the butter in a large bowl. When it is fluffy, add the sugar and continue creaming.
  3. Beat the eggs well, add to the creamy mixture, and blend well.
  4. Add the salt and blend.
  5. Add a little of the flour and mix. Add milk and flour alternatingly, and mix.
  6. Finally add the vanilla and stir.
  7. Pour into a cake pan greased with butter and dusted with flour.
  8. Bake at 350 ° F or 180 ° C for about 40 minutes.
  9. When the cake is well risen, browned, and separates from the pan, insert a knitting needle into the centre of the cake. If the needle comes out clean, remove the cake from oven. If some of the batter sticks to the needle, continue baking for another 5 or 10 minutes. Repeat the needle test.
  10. Cool on a wire rack. When it is warm to touch, invert the pan on the wire rack and remove pan leaving cake on the wire rack.
Devils Food Cake 2 - Kalas Kalai

Devil’s Food Cake cooling on a homemade wire rack

  1. When completely cool, apply chocolate butter icing/frosting.


  1. Cream the butter in a bowl. Add the coffee and vanilla, and blend well.
  2. Sift the icing sugar, breakdown any lumps with a rolling pin. Or pulse the icing sugar in a mixie/blender for 10 seconds; sift if necessary.
  3. Mix the coco powder with the icing sugar.
  4. Add the icing sugar little by little to the butter while creaming till a very thick consistency is obtained.
  5. Cut the cake into two horizontal halves. Apply the icing using a palette knife on the cut surface of the bottom half. Place the upper half on it.
  6. Continue applying the icing on the top and sides of the cake.
Devils Food Cake 1 - Kalas Kalai

Devil’s Food Cake with chocolate butter icing/frosting



  1. The strong black coffee could be the decoction of coffee that is made in the coffee filter in South Indian homes.
  2. You can use the back of a spoon to give a swirling effect to the surface of the icing.

4 thoughts on “Devil’s Food Cake (Layered Chocolate Cake)

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