Michael and I agree: Martha Stewart’s Devil’s Food Cake with Seven-Minute Frosting is the best cake I’ve made from Martha’s book so far, de-throning Cake #6, The Red Velvet with Cream Cheese Frosting.  Not only was this devil’s food cake a rich, decadent, mile-high mountain of fudge-moistness, there was an extra flavor boost that sprung out of a frosting fail.

The seven-minute frosting didn’t whip up to the heights Martha had prepared me for.  Despite furious whisking in the kitchen that ran the length of seven Frank Sinatra songs, the egg whites never hit the super stiff peak level, and the frosting turned out a bit runny.  I finally just gave up and went with it.

But after about a day standing, the liquidy frosting actually started seeping down into the pores of the cake, making it even more moist, and taking some of the sweetness from the fresh strawberries on top down with it.  The frosting literally began disappearing, and the dark cake took on a flavor that combined chocolate, vanilla and strawberry in every bite.  Quite spectacular!  Sometimes a fail becomes an unexpected win.  And I think it’s a testament to the fact that Martha’s recipes are pretty foolproof.

Devil’s Food Cake from Martha Stewart

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans 
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for pans 
  • 1 cup boiling water 
  • 1 cup sour cream 
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled) 
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine salt 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 3 3/4 cups sugar, divided 
  • 4 large eggs, plus 5 large egg whites, room temperature, divided 
  • 5 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, divided 
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line with parchment; butter parchment and dust pans with cocoa.

    Whisk boiling water into cocoa until smooth; whisk in sour cream.

    Whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat butter and 2 1/4 cups sugar on medium-high until fluffy and pale yellow.

    Beat in whole eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions cocoa mixture, and beat until combined.

    Fold in 4 teaspoons vanilla.Divide batter among pans.

    Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Transfer pans to wire racks and let cool completely.

    Remove cakes from pans and discard parchment. Trim cakes if desired.

    Seven-Minute Frosting
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

    Whisk together sugar, egg whites, and corn syrup in a heatproof mixer bowl set over (not in) a pan of simmering water.  

    Whisk until warm and sugar is dissolved (mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingers, 2 to 3 minutes).  Remove from heat.

    With an electric mixer on high speed, beat until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 7 minutes.  Beat in vanilla.  

    Use right away. Transfer a cake layer to a serving plate and top with 1 cup frosting. Stack second cake on top and cover top and sides with remaining frosting.