I did some experimenting recently to determine characteristics of Cluizel’s cocoa, and in the process created what I find at least to be the definitive Devil’s Food Cake.
BTW, what technically classifies Devil’s Food Cake as distinct from any other chocolate cake is: 1) the use of natural-process cocoa as the chocolate flavouring, as opposed either to Dutch process cocoa or chocolate of any form, 2) a high enough proportion of cocoa that the flavour is intense and not mild, 3) the use of a chocolate buttercream frosting. (And here again, a frosting is distinct from an icing in that it is soft and billowy rather than hard and shell-like) Factor #1 is the most crucial; the others have some level of variability but the principles hold.
Anyway, having gotten past the definitions, here’s the recipe:
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 cups soft white flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sour milk
1/2 cup boiling water
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 vanilla bean
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:
250 g high-percentage chocolate
250 g butter
Thoroughly grease and flour 2 25cm (or 9″) cake tins. Preheat oven to 180C/350F
Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt, set aside.
Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the sugar. Stir until well-mixed.
Cream the butter with the sugar mixture.
Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time.
Add flour/cocoa mixture to butter/egg mixture, alternating with sour milk.
Stir in boiling water and beat until smooth. Pour into prepared cake tins.
Bake at 180C for 35-40 minutes, until a tester just comes out clean. Cool completely.
Frosting: Melt chocolate in a double-boiler, set aside to cool.
Whip butter until pale and fluffy.
Beat eggs until lemon yellow and very foamy, beat into butter.
Beat in chocolate.
Level one of the cake rounds. Spread about 1/3 of the frosting on top, place second round over it, then spread the rest of the frosting to cover. Cool completely.