Devil’s food cake


Airy, yet rich and moist, with a sharp cranberry filling to contrast the chocolate, this cake can be served for tea or as a pudding. I prefer a dusting of icing sugar to the usual coating of white American frosting.


  • 100 g dark chocolate (at least 55% cocoa solids)
  • 3 tablespoons warm water
  • 250 g plain flour
  • level teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 150 g butter (at room temperature), plus extra for greasing
  • 250 g dark muscovado sugar
  • 3 large free-range eggs, beaten
  • 150 ml whole milk
  • juice of ½ lemon

For the cranberry filling

  • 100 ml fresh orange juice
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 200 g fresh cranberries

To finish

  • icing sugar for dusting


Butter two 22-24 cm sandwich tins and line the bottom of each with a buttered disc of baking parchment. Break the chocolate into small pieces and put into a bowl set over a pan of very hot but not boiling water. Add the 3 tablespoons warm water and stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat and cool slightly.

Heat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder into a bowl and set aside. Whisk the butter in a large bowl until soft, then whisk in the muscovado sugar until fluffy. Whisk in the eggs, followed by the melted chocolate. Pour the milk into a measuring jug and stir in the lemon juice to sour the milk. Using a large metal spoon, stir the soured milk into the chocolate mixture alternately with the flour mixture.

Divide the cake mixture evenly between the tins and gently spread level. Bake just below the centre of the oven for 30-40 minutes until well risen and springy to touch in the centre.

Meanwhile, make the cranberry filling. Put the orange juice into a saucepan and stir in the caster sugar. Add the cranberries, cover the pan, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Cool and then chill in the fridge.

When the cakes are cooked, leave them in the tins for about 10 minutes, then carefully turn them out onto a wire rack to cool. When cold, put one cake on a serving plate, spread with the cranberry filling and top with the second layer. Before serving, sift icing sugar over the top of the cake.