National Devil's Food Cake Day
|Make it a heart of a day!|
A bit of devilish history...
Recipes for rich, chocolate cakes similar to Devil's Food were fairly common in late 19th century cookbooks, but they were not named such. They were typically listed under the generic name "chocolate cake" with most being white/yellow cake iced in chocolate. Recipes titled Devil's Food proliferated, sometimes with interesting and creative twists, in the first decades of the 20th century. Red Devil, a reddish-brown color, appeared in the 1930s.
It is unknown exactly how this chocolate cake came to be called 'Devil's Food'. Perhaps it simply came from the old adage "It is so good it must be sinful!"
What is the difference between chocolate cake and Devil's Food?
This simple question has many answers, depending upon the period and cookbook. As noted above, the first 19th century American chocolate cake recipes were white/yellow cakes with chocolate icing. The addition of chocolate to the batter increased as the price of this ingredient declined, thus creating "chocolate cake" as we know it today. 20th century cookbooks often list chocolate cake and Devil's Food on the same page. The most predominant difference between the two? Devil's Food usually contains a greater proportion of chocolate. Fannie Farmer  doubles the amount of chocolate required for her Devil's Food (4 ounces compared to 2 ounces for "regular" chocolate cake.). Irma S. Rombauer confirms: "When the larger amount of chocolate is used, it is a black, rich Devil's Food." (Joy of Cooking, 1931 p. 236) [Source: Food Timeline]
According to The Food Timeline cake history, the earliest recipe for Devil's Food printed in an American cookbook is dated 1902:
Devil's Food1/2 cup of milk*
4 ounces of chocolate
1/2 cup butter
3 cups pastry flour
1 1/2 cups of sugar
2 teaspoonfuls of baking powder
Put in a double boiler four ounces of chocolate and a half pint of milk; cook until smooth and thick, and stand aside to cool. Beat a half cup of butter to a cream; add gradually one and a half cups of sugar and the yolks of four eggs; beat until light and smooth. Then add the cool chocolate mixture and three cups of pastry flour, with which you have sifted two teaspoonfuls of baking powder. Beat thoroughly for at least five minutes; then stir in the well beaten whites of the eggs. Bake in three or four layers. Put the layers together with soft icing, to which you have added a cup of chopped nuts. The success of this cake depends upon the flour used.
---Mrs. Rorer's New Cook Book, Sarah Tyson Rorer
*The directions call for a half pint of milk. 2 c = 1 pt so 1/2 pt = 1 c but the recipe calls for 1/2 c Go figure!