Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Jan 1, 2009 04:11 PM

Bakers: what's the difference between devil's food and regular chocolate cake?

As in sturdiness, ease of preparation, etc?

I'm baking Elmo cupcakes for my son's birthday this weekend (he'll be 2), and I need a chocolate cupcake that will stand up to a ton of frosting (Elmo's face). I'm looking through my recipes -- I dont think I've made cupcakes for a year! -- and I'm remembering that this recipe

is good but was kinda crumbly. Why, though?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. the primary difference is the chocolate ingredient/source...devil's food cake uses only cocoa, not melted chocolate, which is a typical ingredient in other chocolate cake recipes.

    1. Someone once explained it to me like this:
      Devil Dog=Devil's Food
      Hostess Cupcake=Chocolate cake

      Not that either are necessarily a good example of how good devil's food or chocolate cake can be, but it helps to understand the consistency/sturdiness of each.

      Personally, I would go for chocolate cake for Elmo!

      1. The line is blurred with what a devil's food cake is vs. regular but I've heard ghg's definition most often. The problem is there are quite a few recipes for chocolate cake that use only cocoa, too. I don't know about the proportions to the recipe you have but the directions are too simplified. There are quite a few techniques for making cakes, on beating sugar w/ butter, adding butter slowly to flour until crumbly, mixing dry and alternating w/ milk/buttermilk, separating eggs and whipping whites, etc. but I've never seen one that has you put everything in w/out eggs, beating, and adding eggs. You want to mix the flour minimally so you don't develop the gluten which makes it tough, not beat on high twice for two minutes. This recipe for red velvet cake has fairly common directions (w/out the vinegar part):

        An easy study cake that would stand up to a lot of frosting is the black magic cake. It comes together in less time than the oven takes to preheat. It calls for coffee which concerns some parents, but not a lot for a whole cake and I think the chocolate adds more caffeine than the coffee. You could use decaf or just go w/ water.

        For a little more effort, you could do the sour cream chocolate fudge cake from Cooks Illustrated. I think it's much better but does take more time, and if it's for kids, they probably won't notice. If you want, I can post the recipe.

        5 Replies
        1. re: chowser

          Please post the sour cream fudge cake recipe! I've got a bunch of leftover sour cream AND a party to go to, so I'd love to make that cake. Thanks!

          1. re: dixieday2

            I have never known the difference but they are both so good i never cared.

            1. re: dixieday2

              Here you go...


              1 c non-alkalized (natural) cocoa powder
              2 tsp instant espresso or instant coffee
              1 c boiling water
              1/2 c sour cream
              2 tsp vanilla extract
              1/2 lb butter, room temp
              1 3/4 c sugar
              2 eggs, room temp
              1 1/4 c AP flour
              3/4 tsp baking soda
              1/2 tsp salt

              Preheat oven to 350. Grease and line 2 9" pans w/ parchment paper. Dust w/ flour and remove excess.

              Mix cocoa, espresso powder w/ boiling water (I add cocoa to strong hot coffee). Cool to room temp and then add sour cream and vanilla.

              Beat butter until smooth and shiny, about 30 secs. Sprinkle sugar, and beat 3-5 mins until fluffly and white. Add eggs one at a time, beating in between ~1 min after each egg.

              Whisk flour, baking soda and salt. With slow mixer, add 1/3 to batter. Follow w/ 1/2 coffee mixture. Repeat, ending with dry. Scrape. Beat 15 secs more.

              Divide evenly between pans. Bake 23-30 mins until toothpick comes out w/ just a crumb or two. Cool 10 mins on baking rack and then invert and remove from pans.

              CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING (they recommend this w/ it. It's okay but I prefer melted chocolate and sour cream frosting)

              9 oz bittersweet choc.
              8 tbsp butter (1 stick)
              1/3 c light corn syrup

              Melt choc and butter over double boiler. Stir in corn syrup. Cool over bowl of ice water until thick enough to spread.

              1. re: chowser

                Last night I made almost the same recipe (from JOC – 1975). I don’t often make this kind of cake from scratch, and guess what – it fell. It tastes great and upside-down it looks great too (until you cut into it, lol). Reading your recipe I think I may have beaten the batter too much. I mixed everything with a wooden spoon, is this something better suited for a mixer, either stand or hand-held?

                1. re: chowser

                  thanks chowser! i'm going to give this a go for sunday!!! (c;