Today is National Devil's Food Cake Day, this is an updated version of an American classic. The name refers to the coffee in the batter, like Southern Red Eye gravy that is punched up with a shot of coffee. Here, coffee gives the cake a lightly bitter edge that cuts the sweetness of the chocolate. The coffee-enhanced cocoa layers sandwich a surfeit of fudgy, bittersweet ganache.
For the cake
3 cups (12.75 ounces, 363 grams) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon (2.45 grams) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 grams) salt
1 cup (3.2 ounces, 92 grams) Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups (16 ounces, 460 grams) strong brewed coffee
1/2 pound (8 ounces, 227 grams) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pans
3 cups (21 ounces, 600 grams) granulated sugar
4 large (6.8 ounces, 193 grams) eggs, at room temperature
For the ganache
14 ounces (397 grams) coarsely chopped extra-bitter chocolate (minimum 70 percent cacao content)
3 cups (24.36 ounces, 696 grams) heavy cream
For decorating and serving
About 1/2 pound block bittersweet chocolate for chocolate curls for decorating, optional
Whipped cream for serving, optional
Fresh berries for serving, optional
Make the cake
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Butter two 9-inch round cake pans with unsalted butter. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment or waxed paper rounds and butter the rounds.
2. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt onto a piece of parchment or waxed paper. Set aside.
3. Place the cocoa in a small bowl and whisk in the coffee, a little at a time, until smooth.
4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until fluffy, then beat in the sugar. Mix on high speed until very light and fluffy, 6 to 8 minutes.
5. Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition. Add the cocoa-coffee mixture and beat to incorporate. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix just until incorporated.
6. Divide the batter evenly between the 2 pans and bake on the center rack, turning the pans from back to front during the baking, until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out completely clean, about 45 minutes.
7. Let the cakes cool in the pans on racks for about 30 minutes. Slide a thin knife or offset spatula around the sides of the pans and turn them over to unmold the cakes onto the racks. Carefully peel the parchment or waxed paper rounds from the bottoms of the cakes and allow the cakes to cool completely, at least 30 to 40 minutes more. Cover and refrigerate the layers. This will make the cake less crumbly and easier to slice when cutting the layers.
Make the ganache
8. While the cakes cool, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
9. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the cream to a boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it sit for 3 minutes. Whisk until the cream and chocolate are thoroughly combined and smooth and slightly cooled. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Once the ganache is chilled, whisk just until fluffy.
Assemble the cake
10. Using a long, serrated knife, cut each cake horizontally into 4 thin layers. To do this, place 1 hand flat on top of a cake. Slice into the cake about 1/2 inch from its top and use a sawing motion to slowly move the knife into the cake about 1 inch. Then, still slicing back and forth, turn the cake (counterclockwise if you are right-handed, clockwise if you are left-handed) on the table, going around the circumference of the cake but not cutting into its center. After the first full outer circle is complete, hold the knife level, dig into the cake another inch, and turn the cake again in the same direction. Repeat until you have sliced all the way through the cake. Carefully remove this top layer and repeat to obtain 4 layers from each of the 2 cakes.
11. Place 1 of the bottom cake layers on a serving platter and spread a thin layer of ganache over the top. Repeat with the rest of the layers. Use some of the remaining ganache to apply a very thin coat on the sides of the cake, giving it a “crumb coat” that seals in the crumbs and prevents them from appearing on the outside of the finished cake. Refrigerate the cake with its crumb coat for an hour, then slather the cake with the remaining ganache.
12. Finish by sprinkling the chocolate curls on the top of the cake and gently pressing them against the sides. Voila.
NOTE: Yes, this cake has a stunning appearance with its countless towering and possibly teetering layers accomplished by painstakingly slicing two round cake layers into several layers each. But honestly? It tastes just as swell if you forego all the slicing and layering and instead slap one round layer cake on top of the other, sandwich and slather them with ganache, and call it a day.
Photo & recipe courtesy of: http://leitesculinaria.com/45841/recipes-red-eye-devils-food-cake.html