Devil’s Food Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream

SONY DSCIt’s so close to Christmas! It’s going to be a busy few weeks, and it’s already started. The kitchen is being inspected by food hygiene so that I can sell the cakes I make in it, which inevitably meant a very thorough clean. Who knew we had so many old tins in our larder?! On average, the things we threw away had a date life of 2006…. oh dear….

Yesterday I was back up in London to watch Jake in his first rowing race; so exciting, so proud! For a novice boat, they looked amazing, so smooth and splash free! And now I’m baking for the flat christmas dinner. I tried to do a red velvet cake, but I don’t think the red food colouring had enough ooomph so it’s more just a chocolate devil’s food cake. Normally, you’d couple a red velvet cake with a cream cheese frosting, but I decided to go for an old favourite, vanilla bean frosting, as it tastes like vanilla ice cream and I didn’t fancy trying to make dairy free cream cheese frosting.

The method in the book I was using really made no sense, so I sort of made it up based on other chocolate cakes I had made.

Serves 12
225g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g cocoa powder
125g butter (or butter alternative, I used Trex)
250g light brown muscovado sugar
3 eggs
250ml milk (or milk alternative, I used lactofree whole milk)
1 tbsp lemon juice
40ml red food colouring (preferably Dr Oetker)

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease two 20cm cake tins and line the bases with baking paper.

Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa powder into a bowl.

Cream together the butter (or Trex) and half the sugar until light and fluffy, you really can’t overdo this part. Beat the eggs, and very gradually add them to the creamed butter. Then add the remainder of the sugar. If it looks like the mixture is curdling and not taking all the eggs, you can add some of the sugar before all the egg has been added.

Mix the milk with the lemon juice to sour it, and stir in the red food colouring. Alternately add a quarter of the flour mixture and the milk mixture to the creamed butter. The mixture should be moussey but not stiff.

Pour into the tins and level the surface of both.

Red Velvet Cake

Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until risen, springy to the touch and slightly coming away from the sides. Cool the cakes in the tins for about 10 minutes, then upturn the cakes onto a wire rack to cool.

Now for the frosting.

750g icing sugar
340g butter (or half Trex and half Sunflower spread)
75ml milk
1½tsp vanilla bean paste

Beat together the butter and half the icing sugar, gradually add the rest of the icing sugar and beat until the mix comes together. Mix together the milk and the vanilla paste, and gradually dribble into the mixture. Beat until light and fluffy, about five minutes.

Vanilla Bean Frosting

For this cake, it is very important to do a crumb coat to lock in those crumbs. For this, spread the first cake with frosting, place the second on top and cover the whole cake with a thin layer of frosting.


Put the cake in the freezer for about 15 minutes to firm up. Then cover with a generous layer of frosting, being careful not to scrape any of the crumb coat up. I then piped some stars around the top and bottom, using a closed star tip.



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One thought on “Devil’s Food Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream

  1. […] The method is literally to put all the ingredients, apart from the milk, in your food mixer and turn it on. Add a drop or two of milk to give it a nice smooth texture and continue mixing it until light and smooth. I used my vanilla bean frosting, which I’m rather fond of, but I only made two thirds of the quantity in this recipe. […]

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