Red Devil's Food Cake With Vanilla Frosting

Devil's Food Cake
Diana Rattray
Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 50 mins
Servings: 12 to 16 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
363 Calories
14g Fat
55g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12 to 16
Amount per serving
Calories 363
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 14g 19%
Saturated Fat 6g 29%
Cholesterol 70mg 23%
Sodium 554mg 24%
Total Carbohydrate 55g 20%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Protein 4g
Calcium 96mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This classic red devil's food cake recipe is similar to red velvet cake. The two cakes both hail from the Victorian-era, have a chocolate base, and have a red hue. However, they differ in the type of cocoa powder that you use. Traditionally, a red devil's food cake is made with unsweetened, natural cocoa powder. Red velvet usually uses Dutch-processed cocoa powder, which is slightly different.

This cake is made with buttermilk and unsweetened cocoa with just a hint of red food coloring. Like most devil's food cakes, one of its distinctive ingredients is hot brewed coffee. It is an easy cake to prepare, and it comes out moist and delicious every time. If you do not have buttermilk, you can make your own substitute with regular milk. You will need to sour it with vinegar (sometimes lemon juice is used, too).

This recipe includes a vanilla frosting. You also can use store-bought frosting or another recipe for the frosting.

You can use two 8-inch round pans or go rectangular with a 9-inch by 13-inch baking pan (2-inches deep). A rectangular cake might take a few minutes longer to bake.


  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 cup hot melted shortening
  • 2 large eggs (beaten)
  • 1 teaspoon liquid red food coloring
  • 2 tablespoons hot brewed coffee
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (8 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 scant teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or make buttermilk substitute)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Vanilla Frosting: 
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter (softened)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Heat the oven to 350 F/180 C. Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans.

  3. Sift together granulated sugar and cocoa powder.

  4. In mixing bowl, blend the sugar and cocoa with melted shortening.

  5. Add beaten eggs; stir to mix well. Blend in hot coffee and food coloring.

  6. Combine the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder; blend well.

  7. In a cup, combine buttermilk or the buttermilk substitute and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

  8. Add the flour mixture to the first mixture, alternating with the buttermilk (or its substitute) and vanilla.

  9. Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pans and spread evenly. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.

  10. Cool the cakes in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes to racks to cool completely.

  11. While the cake cools, make the frosting. In a mixing bowl with an electric mixer on low speed, combine the confectioners' sugar, butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla. Increase the mixer to medium speed and beat in 1 tablespoon of milk. Add more milk, as needed, to make a creamy, spreadable frosting.

  12. Spread some frosting on one of the rounds.

  13. Place the other round on top of the first round and then frost the top and sides of the cake.