Devil's Food Cake is, by nature and by name, tricky. Don't mess with it. Play by the rules, be a good obedient little baker, and you shall have your cake. But don't try to be clever with it. Get two tins. Or divide the recipe in half, make two cakes back to back – which takes time, I know, but just go do 30 minutes of yoga while it bakes or something – and assemble them when they are both done. Now about the coconut: I ran out of the butter after the first trial, couldn't be bothered to walk to Sainbury's again so instead used some coconut oil. I thought the chocolate would overpower the coconut flavour – naive creature that I am – but surprisingly, the coconut flavour was strong – not overpowering – and actually complemented the chocolate perfectly. I loved it instantly. If you don't, that's fine, but I would give it a go if I were you. Notes for substitutions are at the bottom.

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Devil’s Food Cake [Vegan]

Serves

1 8"cake

Ingredients

Cake
  • 8 oz or 2 cups self-raising flour
  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1.75 oz good quality dark cocoa powder, sifted
  • 4.5 oz or 2/3 cup Demerara sugar
  • 3.5 oz dark muscovado sugar
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 4.5 oz or 2/3 cup vegan butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 2 flax “eggs” (see notes)
Frosting and filling
  • 100g (3.5 oz) room temperature coconut oil, or 100ml melted coconut oil
  • 300g (10.5 oz) good quality dark, dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 125ml (½ cup) water
  • 30g (about 1 oz or ¼ cup) dark muscovado sugar
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Preparation

Cake
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC (356ºF). Grease two 20cm (8 inch) round springform tins.
  2.  Place the muscovado sugar in a bowl, cover with the boiling water and give it a stir. Set aside.
  3.  Cream the butter and Demerara sugar either with a standing mixer or by hand. It’s a short but excellent workout. Fold in the flax eggs, then the vanilla paste and finally the hot, melted sugar. Combine thoroughly.
  4.  Lastly fold in the dry ingredients. Combine thoroughly, then immediately pour half of the batter into the first springform tin, the other half in the second tin. Bake for 30 minutes.
  5.  Leave the cakes to cool on a wire rack for at least ten minutes before removing them from the tins. The cakes will be thin, but remember about half of the finished cake is made purely of frosting. If you haven’t made the frosting and filling already, begin to do so now immediately after the cakes have gone in the oven.
Frosting
  1. Place a medium-sized saucepan over moderate heat. Let the sugar, butter and water come to a bubble, stir them together and remove from the heat. Slip in the chopped chocolate. Let the whole lot sit for a few minutes to give the chocolate a chance to begin to melt. Either swirl the pan or gently stir with a wooden spoon to combine it all into a smooth, glossy sauce.
  2.  It will appear very liquid, but you must give it a chance to set. Just leave it be on the counter, or place in the fridge for a short while (no longer than an hour, I would say), until it has become “spreadable”.
Assemble the Cake
  1. Carefully remove the first cake from its tin and place it on a plate or cake stand if you have one, belly-up (top-side down). Spread about a third of the frosting all over its surface. Layer the second cake exactly on top of the first one, this time the normal way up. Spread the remainder of the frosting over the top and down the sides.
  2.  I like my cake to look a bit shabby. I don’t bake for a fancy café and probably never shall, so this look is good enough for me, and good enough for my belly.
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