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Zoe Bakes Devil's Food Cake

Chocolate Devil’s Food Cake with Champagne Buttercream

byZoë François
Total 3 hours (includes cooling and chilling times)
Active 105 mins
Makes One 6-inch layer cake
TIP: When making the buttercream, after you have added about half of the butter to the meringue mixture, it may look curdled and runny. This is normal and you should continue adding the rest of the butter. Once you have finished adding the butter and it has mixed on medium speed for about a minute the buttercream will be creamy and glossy looking again.
Special Equipment
a cake turntable, a pastry bag with a coupler, star tip, and rose tip, a flower nail, and a fine paintbrush
Special Equipment
a cake turntable, a pastry bag with a coupler, star tip, and rose tip, a flower nail, and a fine paintbrush
Devil’s Food Cake
  • Unsalted butter, for cake pans
  • 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups (150 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (50 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted, plus more for cake pans
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup (180 milliliters) buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup (80 milliliters) mild-flavored oil, such as vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) hot coffee
  • 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) rum or brandy
Champagne Buttercream
  • 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup egg whites
  • 3 cups (680 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 5 drops champagne extract
  • Pinch of kosher salt
Filling and Decorating
  • 1/4 cup cherry preserves
  • Pink gel-paste food coloring optional)
  • Edible luster dust (optional)
  • Decorating pearls (optional)
  1. To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter three 6-inch round cake pans and line each with a parchment paper round.
  2. in a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt and whisk together until combined. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla until well combined. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Slowly add the hot coffee and rum to the batter and whisk until totally blended and smooth, about 2 minutes. The batter will be quite thin.
  4. Dust the prepared pans with cocoa powder. Divide the batter into the prepared pans and spread evenly using an offset spatula. Bake until a tester comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Allow to cool completely in the pan. Keep covered until ready to fill and frost.
  5. Remove the cakes from the pans and invert onto 6-inch cardboard cake rounds.
  6. To make the Champagne buttercream: In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the granulated sugar and egg whites. It will be very thick and grainy.
  7. Put the bowl over a double boiler and stir it with a rubber spatula until the sugar is completely melted. Brush down the sides of the bowl with the spatula to make sure all the sugar is melted. Feel the egg mixture between your fingers to check for graininess. Once it is completely smooth, put the bowl on the mixer and beat with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed until it is light, fluffy, and glossy, and the bowl feels just about room temperature. If the egg whites are not cooled off sufficiently it will melt the butter when you add it.
  8. Once the egg whites are whipped and cooled, add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating on medium speed to combine. (See Cook’s Note.)
  9. Add the vanilla extract, champagne extract, and salt.
  10. To make the filling: Place about 2 cups of the buttercream in a mixing bowl. Stir in the cherry preserves. Reserve the remaining buttercream for the exterior coat.
  11. Place one cake layer in the center of a cake turntable. Cover the first layer with a 1/4-inch- thick layer of the cherry buttercream. Repeat this with the other layers of cake and buttercream, stacking them on the first layer and ending with cake.
  12. For the crumb coat, spread a thin layer of vanilla buttercream over the top and sides, then freeze the cake for about 20 minutes.
  13. Place the cake back on the turntable. Ice the cake with a thick layer of buttercream. Then, using a metal spatula or cake comb, smooth out the sides and top of the cake.
  14. Using a pastry bag fitted with a star tip, create a border around the top of the cake.
  15. To decorate the center of the cake with buttercream roses: Add a small scoop of buttercream to a bowl and add a few drops of pink food coloring, if using. Fit a pastry bag with a rose tip, then use a fine paintbrush to paint a line of the colored buttercream down the seam, inside the bag (for pink details on the roses). Fill the pastry bag with plain white buttercream. Form each buttercream rose on a rose nail, then use kitchen shears to transfer it to the top of the cake. Repeat, creating as many roses as you’d like.
  16. If using, finish the cake with a little luster dust and a ring of edible sugar pearls around the base.