Devil's Food Layer Cake—Recipe Review

Mini devil's food layer cake

Everyone needs a good chocolate cake recipe in their arsenal and this might be the winner! It takes a little extra work but is great for special occasions, birthdays, or a base for chocolate cup cakes & cake pops.

Mixing Chocolate Cake Batter

I’ve been wanting to make a homemade chocolate layer cake for the longest time, but I’ve always been intimidated. My 10th recipe review in the Tartine book seemed like the perfect time to finally dive in and get a little out of my comfort zone. And boy am I glad I did.

This recipe required a bit of time management. You have to make sure the cakes are cool before icing and it requires multiple trips to the fridge in-between decorating.

I did run across a few hiccups, so hopefully these tips will help you reach perfection the first time around.

Tips for Making Tartine’s
Chocolate Devil’s Food Layer Cake


1 Adjust for High Altitude Baking

In my first batch, one of the cakes sunk considerably so I only got one layer out of it. After reaching out to the instagram community, my friend Naomi recommended adding 2T of flour, and 2T of water with the eggs. This did the trick and as you can see in the image above, I ended up with two perfectly risen cakes.

Since my first batch didn’t have enough layers for a 4 layer cakes, I cut out 4” rounds with a circle cutter and made mini cakes. They were … adorable … and delicious.

Chocolate Cake Rounds

2 Bake Cakes The Day Before

To ensure your cake is cool, make them the day before, let cool completely and wrap in plastic wrap and store in the fridge overnight. Having your cakes done ahead makes assembly day much easier. Just remove them from the fridge in the morning before you start assembly. You certainly can pull this off in one day, but doing some prep the day before makes things go much smoother.

3 Let the Chocolate Ganache Cool

The ganache mixture will be extremely warm and runny after initially mixing it, so let it firm up until it’s just spreadable but not drippy before icing your cakes. This helps SO much with the mess and minimized the amount of chocolate that runs out of the middle.

4 Apply the Caramel Carefully

The caramel is also at risk for just spilling out of the center after you put the top layers on. Don’t spread it too thick and let it soak into the cake a bit before adding the ganache. My layers were slippy slidy and didn’t need to be.

5 Don’t Skip the Outer Crumb

The velvety finished texture is achieved with a special method: baking your cake trimmings to dry them out and blending them to a sand-like texture. This is honestly brilliant. It gives the cake an amazing outer finish without a lot of extra effort and it covers a multitude of imperfections.

6 The Right Equipment

If you think you’ll be making a layer a cake ever again in your life, invest in a cheap turntable, a bench scraper and offset spatula (get all three here). It makes icing around the cake so. much. easier.

tartine devils food layer cake recipe by the fond life