Lucy Tate’s Devil’s Food Cake

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Chocolate: The Food of the Gods


By Chantal Coady

Published 1993

  • About

One of my oldest recipes, this was given to me by my best friend at school when we were about 10 years old. It is always most delicious when eaten in the middle of the night with a glass of very cold milk, as part of an illicit feast.


  • 5-6 oz (150-175 g) best-quality bittersweet (dark) chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) milk
  • 1 cup (8 oz/250 g) sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • cups (9 oz/275 g) all-purpose (plain) flour
  • tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup (4 oz/l25 g) butter, softened
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract (essence)

For the frosting (icing)

  • scant ½ cup ( oz/100 g) sugar
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup or honey
  • 4 oz (125 g) bittersweet (dark) chocolate, melted
  • 2 tbsp (1 oz/25 g) butter
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract (essence)


In a saucepan over low heat, melt together the chocolate, 6 tbsp. of the milk and ½ cup plus 2 tbsp (4 oz/125 g) of the sugar. Stir over a low heat, then mix in 2 egg yolks and continue stirring until the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Meanwhile, grease an 8 in/20 cm. cake pan. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C, Gas 4).

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, cream together the butter with the remaining sugar. Add the vanilla to the remaining milk.

Fold the flour mixture into the creamed butter and sugar alternately with the vanilla-flavoured milk, then stir in the cooled chocolate mixture. If the mixture seems too dry, add a little more milk. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then fold them into the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake until the top of the cake springs back when lightly pressed, about 45 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, prepare the frosting (icing). Melt the sugar and golden syrup or honey with 6 tbsp. water, then cover the pan and bring to a boil. Use a candy (sugar) thermometer and boil until the mixture reaches 225°F (110°C), or the soft ball stage. Take care not to overboil or the mixture will become brittle. Leave to cool to lukewarm, without stirring, then stir in the melted chocolate, butter and vanilla. Stir until the mixture reaches a good spreading consistency. This makes enough frosting to cover the top and sides of an 8 in/20 cm. cake, so double the quantities if you want to make a layer cake.