SpyMom's Devil's Food Cake with Buttercream Frosting

Devil's food cake

There are many good things about moving out of your parents' house. You get to watch tv whenever you want, not be told to make your bed, and eat cupcakes for dinner if you wanna. And often, I wanna.

But one of the less awesome aspects of moving away from home is that if your mom is a great baker, you don't as often get to indulge in her delicious creations. 

But in an effort of maintaining a baking bond even from a fairly long distance, SpyMom recently sent over a recipe success with me, which I am in turn sharing with you. It's a Homemade devils food cake (from an old Fannie Farmer book), brought up to modern times with a generous coating of Magnolia Bakery's buttercream frosting recipe. As SpyMom says, "Imperfect looking but the taste was perfect." 

I disagree that it looks imperfect--those layers of tender-crumbed, moist chocolate cake beautifully held together with light blue tinted buttercream look perfect--and completely delicious--to me. Like a classic cake dream come true.

Here's the recipe.

Devil's food cake

Devil's Food Cake with Buttercream Frosting (Printable version here)

Makes 1 2-layer 8-inch cake

Adapted from recipes in The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook: Old-Fashioned Recipes From New York's Sweetest Bakery and The Fannie Farmer Cookbook

For the cake

  • 4 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 pound unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

For the frosting

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 to 8 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees f. Butter and lightly flour two 8-inch round cake pans. Put the cocoa, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, and 3 tablespoons water in a small pan and cook over low heat until smooth and blended. 
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the milk. Set aside.
  3. Cream the butter, add the vanilla and 1/2 cup of the remaining sugar, and beat until light.  Beat in the egg yolks, and then add the cocoa mixture, beating well. Mix the flour, cream of tartar, salt, and baking soda together, add to the first mixture, and blend until smooth.
  4. Beat the egg whites separately until they are foamy. Slowly add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, and beat until stiff but not dry. Fold the whites into the rest of the batter.
  5. Spread in your prepared pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans for 5 minutes before turning on to racks to cool completely before frosting.
  6. To make the frosting, In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter, 4 cups sugar, milk, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually add remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating for about 2 minutes after each addition, until icing reaches desired consistency; you may not need to add all the sugar. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.