It’s a no-brainer. Any avid baker should have his or her go-to chocolate cake recipe because… well, what would be the point of being able to bake if you can’t make chocolate cake?
And so, in my search for the best one, I turn to two people who have never failed me: Ina Garten and David Lebovitz.
First up is David’s Devil’s Food Cake, which I made for my brother’s birthday. A clarification is required, though. The photo below is of David’s cake, as I didn’t get the chance to take a picture of the cake I made. First I didn’t have good light (I usually bake at night), then I forgot to take a picture during the day, and by the time I remembered to take one, the cake was half gone and the cake platter was a mess. Hence, I’m borrowing David’s picture.
It looks like fudgy chocolate-y perfection, no? And while my cake looks nowhere as good as David’s (he is a pastry chef after all and I am… me), I daresay it’s as fudgy and chocolate-y asI expected it to be. The cake itself was moist and dark while the icing was thick, rich and fudgy. It’s a straightforward, no fuss chocolate cake, the type you want to eat with a tall glass of milk and whose icing you want to lick off the
plate fork. In short, it’s perfect.
And I honestly didn’t think Ina’s famous Beatty’s Chocolate Cake could top David’s because I really didn’t know how else the Devil’s Food Cake could be improved on… “Well, how about with coffee?”, says Ina (of course she didn’t really say that). Ina’s recipe has a coffee in both the cake batter and in the frosting. When Ina made this on her show, she said (she actually did say it, this time) that the coffee makes the chocolate taste more… chocolate-y. And I suppose there’s something in that, because David’s recipe for chocolate cupcakes had coffee in the batter as well.
The thing is, you don’t even taste the coffee in the cake itself (or in David’s cupcakes), it still stays a decidedly chocolate cake, not a mocha one, even with the coffee in the batter. It’s a little more pronounced in the frosting. The coffee flavor is definitely noticeable, but not so much that you’d say that the icing was a coffee icing. Chocolate was still the dominant flavor in it.
The cake was a little moister than David’s, although I suspect that that may have to do with the fact that I stored the Devil’s Food in the fridge with only a foil tent over it, whereas Ina’s cake was fully covered in my brand new cake stand.
And so who wins this chocolate cake battle?
I asked my sister which cake she liked better and her answer went a little something like this: “The one with coffee… oh wait. Yeah. That one… Ah, no. The first one (David’s)…. ummm… (thinks about it some more)… yes. I think.” My mother was a bit undecided as well, before settling on Beatty’s.
For me, though, the winner is…
Not David. Not Ina, either.
We all win.
Because what we have here are two excellent, delicious, wonderful chocolate cake recipes. I’ve spent a lot of time and ate a lot of cake (ha!), contemplating which one I preferred and I still couldn’t come up with a winner. And really, why do I need to choose? On one hand, I have a classically perfect cake and on the other, an equally wonderful cake with a slight coffee kick. And, in my book, it would be wrong to pick one over the other.
David wins, Ina wins. My chocolate cake-loving family wins. Like I said, everybody wins.