Cooking with Kids: Jack's Devil's Food Cake

My daughter absolutely loves to cook. I'm starting to suspect it's all about the matching aprons because the first thing she does is to suit up and demand I do the same. Second, is eat all the dough as soon as she gives it a perfunctory stir.

But I love cooking with her standing beside me on her stool and I especially love breaking out the family cookbook to try out some of my own favorites as a kid and seeing how easily she makes them part of her repertoire as well.


This amazing Devil's Food Cake was a standard of my Grandfather's -- Jack, if you will. Whenever we would visit, he had it ready. It would be warm out of the oven, and before he could even frost it we would snatch it up, topless. (Though, I have included the frosting recipe as well.)

My daughter and I have made this multiple times, and it always turns out great. She is incredibly proud because until it goes in the oven, she can do all the mixing. No electric mixer is needed for the recipe, so it's super kid-friendly.

You can also let your child stir and taste up until the the eggs are mixed in the batter. The icing, however, is served hot, so any kid testing will have to happen with what's left in the pot after the cake is iced and it has cooled.

The only other trick to this cake is making sure you cook it long enough, but not too long. (And one more trick I've mastered is finding buttermilk in New York City.)

Here's what you need:

  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix first three ingredients and set aside. Cream shortening and sugar. Beat in eggs. Add buttermilk (says sour milk in my family cookbook -- can you tell we're from the South'ish?) and flour alternately. Add vanilla. Mix in cocoa mixture. Bake in greased and floured 8 x 13 pan or angel food pan for 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees. Check with toothpick to see if it's done. If the toothpick comes out clean when stuck in the middle, the cake is done.

Icing for devil's food cake

  • 1 stick butter
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa
  • 6-8 tablespoons milk
  • 1 box powdered sugar (the box I buy is 16 oz)
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (I use pecans)

Bring first three ingredients to a boil. Remove from heat and add powdered sugar and nuts. Have ready and pour over cake when you take it out of oven.

Let me know if you try to make this and how it turned out in comments!


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