Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Devil's Food Cake

Photo: Mom's devil's food cake for Tim's birthday
Here is the devil's food cake
I made yesterday for
Tim's birthday.
My grandmother claimed that she didn't like to bake, and she was known for throwing out a whole batch of biscotti if it didn't meet her high standards. Somewhere along the line, though, she brought home a recipe for an amazing devil's food cake. Since my mother was always the one to bake this cake, it eventually got to be known as Mom Milanese's Devil's Food Cake.

When my brothers were little, Mom would bake this cake for their lunches, and they bragged about the trades they could get for it, especially since they knew there was more cake where that came from. When I was old enough to try my hand at baking, this was the first cake I made, and my brothers told me it wasn't as good as Mom's. While I do believe that Mom makes the best devil's food cake, I think that maybe they were teasing me and wanted me to try, try, try again, guaranteeing a constant supply of devil's food cake.

Birthdays still demand devil's food cake, a cake that can stand up to frosting, a cake that can serve a crowd, a cake that tastes best with a tall glass of milk. My husband prefers his devil's food cake with chocolate frosting, but the kids side with me on this one, so for their birthdays it's a devil's food cake with buttercream.

Here is the recipe. This is not an average devil's food cake, even though even an average devil's food cake is pretty darn good. This cake is outstandingly moist and chocolaty, a cake worthy to be served at birthday parties, but also a cake that deserves to be made anytime you need a chocolate fix.

When you test it, make sure that there are still a few moist crumbs clinging to the toothpick or it will be dry.  You get to decide whether you top it with chocolate or buttercream frosting!

Mom Milanese's Devil's Food Cake

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round pans.

1 cup sour milk (Add 1 Tablespoon vinegar to a measuring cup and fill to one-cup mark with milk. Stir and let sit for five minutes. You can substitute buttermilk if you have it on hand.)

1 cup water
1 cup Crisco (don't substitute butter or margarine)

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla (Don't substitute artificial vanilla flavoring.)

Make the sour milk and set aside. Put the water and the Crisco in a 4-cup measuring cup and bring to a boil in the microwave (or put water and Crisco in a small pan and bring to a boil). Stir to melt Crisco. Set aside.

Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add the sour milk, hot Crisco and water, eggs, and vanilla. Stir by hand until smooth.

Divide batter evenly between the two round pans. Bake 30-35 minutes. Don't overcook! Cool for 10 minutes on rack, then remove from pans. Turn so the cakes are right side up. Let cool completely before frosting.

This recipe can also be used to bake a 9x13 sheet cake or 24 cupcakes. Adjust baking time--about 40 minutes for the sheet cake or 20 minutes for the cupcakes.

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