Survey shows, whatever it is, if it’s rich and seemingly “sinful” we want more. Thus, “More chocolate, please!”, “Devil’s Food Cake” was born. “Devil’s Food”, you know, that deep, dark, chocolate cake, traditionally made with cocoa, a little extra baking powder and finished off with hot water or coffee? It’s been a favorite of mine since I was seven. In not so high falutin’ high school I used to eat Hostess “Suzy Qs” for lunch. Anyone remember those, deep oily-brown, cellophane wrapped, hefty double rectangles of chocolate cake filled with super sweet, white, fluffy “cream”? I ate them with a plastic fork.
Sure, 35 years later, living South of the border, I could go to any tienda, “corner store”, and pick up a package of “Bimbo”, Mexican equivalents, but I gave up polysorbate 80 after the 80’s. These less sweltering days, I just whip up a cake.
Today I had some some leftover spiced pears and wanted to bake them into a chocolate cake. (Good idea.) I winged the cake, using coconut oil as my fat, and milk as my liquid, along with some spiced pear syrup I made from the poaching liquid: red wine, water, cinnamon sticks, several fat slices of ginger, black peppercorn, brown sugar and an orange cut in four.
In our house we like our cake not so sweet. I often half the amount of sugar called for in classic cake recipes. Or, I add espresso.
In a pinch for a school bake sale? Add espresso to boxed brownies to take down the sweet, a bit of cayenne, cinnamon. Superb ease.
Ahh, red wine spiced pears in deep, dark chocolate cake, “Frenchy” loved it! We all did. Especially after our “Conquistador” shrimp and smoked marlin tacos at Baja Taqueria. I told one brother owner we had dessert at home, “una pastel de chocolate con perra“. He laughed beautifully. Perra means dog. I over rolled the r in pera, to a dog filled chocolate cake! Now, that’s Devil’s Food.
Photo from juliasalbum.com. Ours, below, was similar, but less styled.
Love Cast Iron!
“Frenchy” is the one who got me thinking about the name “Devil’s Food Cake”. Looking around the web I found this fabulous cake reference page. And this interesting bit on cake, chocolate, cookies and the Marquis de Sade.
“The oldest print reference we find for baked goods with chocolate ingredient is 1779. In this letter sent from prison, the notorious Alfonse Francois, Marquis De Sade complains bitterly to his wife about the “care” package she sent him. ‘This sponge cake is not at all what I asked for: 1) I wanted it iced everywhere, both on top and underneath, with the same icing used on the little cookies; 2) I wanted it to be chocolate inside, of which it contains not the slightest hint; they have colored it with some sort of dark herb, but there is not what one could call the slightest suspicion of chocolate. The next time you send me a package, please have it made for me, and try to have some trustworthy person there to see for themselves that some chocolate is put inside. The cookies must smell of chocolate, as if one were biting into a chocolate bar.’
This guy may have enjoyed an exotic Pastel de Chocolate con Perra. Or perhaps enjoyed witnessing some one else eating it. Quien sabe?
Give the Joy of Cooking’s Devil’s Food Cake Cockaigne a try. “Cockaigne” is the term used by Marion Becker to denote a recipe she loved. Cockaigne is a mythical land of plenty. Though might I suggest cutting this classic recipe to 1/2 c. white, 1/2 c brown, then add ripe, cooked or stewed apples, plums, apricots or pears to the batter, after it has been poured into the prepared pan. Bake. Cool. Dust with confectioner’s sugar. Whole upright, nested half fruits and fans of slices offer simple spectacle. Gorgioso. Divine. Options. Endless.
Photo & Styling Katie Quinn Davies
Rich and seemingly sinful? Yes, please.
Though remember, every where, every way, every day, keep it
Slow and holy…slowly whole.
Intro Still Life by Carol Sabo