Devil’S Food Cake

Why this is called Devil’s Food Cake I cannot imagine, far too good for the devil who gets the best tunes already according to Charles Wesley. Perhaps, in the words of David Garrick, it is because ‘Heaven sends us good meat, but the Devil sends cooks’. Anyway it is devilishly good.


  • 115 g/4 oz butter
  • 115 g/4 oz best plain chocolate
  • 115 g/4 oz golden syrup
  • 55 g/2 oz soft brown sugar
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 225 g/8 oz self-raising flour
  • a small pinch of salt
  • 1 egg

For the Vanilla Butter Icing

  • 115 g/4 oz unsalted butter
  • 225 g/8 oz icing sugar
  • 6 drops of pure vanilla essence (not flavouring)

For the American Frosting

  • 225 g/8 oz granulated sugar
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 1 egg white
  • 25 g/1oz best plain chocolate


Grease and line 2 sandwich tins that are 20 cm/8 in across.

In a saucepan melt the butter, chocolate, syrup and sugar, stirring regularly (do not boil). Cool. Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in 1 tbsp of milk. Sift the flour and the salt into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Beat in the chocolate mixture, the remaining milk and the egg, using a wooden spoon, then mix in the dissolved bicarbonate of soda. Place in the prepared tins, dividing equally. Bake in a preheated oven at 160°C/325°F/Gas 3 for 35 minutes, then turn out of the tins to cool on racks. When cool, sandwich together with vanilla butter icing.

To make vanilla butter icing, whizz all the ingredients in a food processor until soft and creamy, or beat together by hand with a wooden spoon. If you prefer, use coffee essence or rum to taste instead of the vanilla.

For the top of the cake make American frosting: Put the sugar and water into a heavy pan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and continue boiling until the syrup reaches 115°C/240°F If you don’t have a sugar thermometer, drop a drop of the syrup into cold water. If it makes a soft ball it is ready. Whisk the egg white to form soft peaks. Pour the syrup gradually on to it, whisking all the time, until the frosting thickens and has a rough granular feel. Pour the frosting over the cake and smooth in whirls with a wet, warm, stainless knife. Sprinkle with grated chocolate just before the frosting sets.