Hundred-Year-Old Devil’s Food Cake Recipe

19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, August 3, 1914:   We had chocolate ice cream and devil’s food cake for supper. The ice cream was the remains of yesterday. The cake also.

Devil's Food Cake (Hundred-Year-Old Recipe)

Devil’s Food Cake (Hundred-Year-Old Recipe)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

I’m going to repost part of a post that I originally posted on February 27, 2012 (1912) because it seems so appropriate for this diary entry:

Comparison of Hundred-year-old and Modern Recipes for Devil’s Food Cake

I recently bought a 1912 cookbook off eBay. My daughter glanced through it and noticed that the devil’s food cake recipe seemed very different from today’s recipes.

So we decided to compare a devil’s food cake made with a modern recipe with one made using a hundred year old recipe.

In the early 1900s angel food cakes and devils food cakes were seen as the polar opposites—one was white and light; the other dark and heavy.

The cake made with the hundred year old recipe was a dense chocolate spice cake. The recipe called for mashed potatoes (mashed potatoes ?!?!), cinnamon, nutmeg and nuts. It reminded us of gingerbread–though ginger was not an ingredient. I’ve never eaten anything exactly like it—but the cake was very good and I’d make it again.

100 Year-Old-Recipe

Calumet Devil’s Food Cake (Chocolate Spice Cake)

2 cups flour

2 level teaspoons Calumet (or any other brand) baking powder

2 level teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup milk

3/4 cup butter

2 eggs

1 cup warm mashed potatoes

2 squares unsweetened chocolate

1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour baking pan, 13 X 9 X 2 inches. Melt butter and chocolate. Combine with all of the other ingredients except nuts. Beat until well-blended. Stir in nuts.

Pour into pan. Bake approximately 45-50 minutes or until pick comes out clean.

Adapted from the recipe in Calumet Baking Powder Reliable Recipes (1912)

The modern devil’s food cake recipe that my daughter made was from my Betty Crocker Cookbook. The recipe called for red food coloring—but otherwise seemed similar to other modern chocolate cake recipes. The cake was awesome.

Modern Recipe

Devil’s Food Cake

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)

1 1/2 teaspoons soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup shortening

2 eggs

2 ounces melted unsweetened chocolate (cool)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon red food color

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour baking pan, 13x9x2 inches, or two 9-inch or three 8-inch round layer pans. Measure all ingredients into large mixer bowl. Blend 1/2 minute on low-speed, scraping bowl constantly. Beat 3 minutes high-speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into pan(s).

Bake oblong about 40 minutes, layers 30-35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool.

(Recipe suggests using chocolate or cream cheese frosting.)

Devil's Food Cake (Modern Recipe)

Devil’s Food Cake (Modern Recipe)

16 Responses

  1. I like the older recipe.

  2. Interesting older recipe. I may have to try this.

  3. Both recipes sound scrumptious! And I just went on a diet. But mashed potatoes in a cake? :)

  4. LOL my hubby loves anything potato, and cake so the old recipe would be right up his alley!

  5. Mashed potatoes?! That’s really interesting!

  6. Wow, chocolate cake plus chocolate ice cream, what a treat :)

  7. It does sound heavier. I never knew what devil’s food was, just that it was chocolate.

  8. Stop it! My stomach is reaching out with longing.

  9. I love these old-fashioned recipes. Mashed potatoes might make for a heavier, dense cake but probably perfectly yummy. I’d give it a try!

  10. I don’t think I would say no to either one.

  11. What a great idea you had to do the “experiment” of baking both cakes and comparing them… a great excuse to have not one, but two servings of chocolate cake! I’d say that was genius! :)

  12. Fascinating to see the differences. I am very curious about using potatoes in a cake. Will I have to try this 100 year old recipe? Probably.

  13. Regardless of the recipe, I now want some devil’s cake. Thanks alot. lol

  14. […] Hundred-Year-Old Devil's Food Cake Recipe | A Hundred … http://ahundredyearsago.com/19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: Monday, August 3, 1914: We had chocolate ice cream and devil's food cake for supper. The ice cream was the remains of yesterday. The cake also. Devil's Food … […]

  15. I served both devil and angel food cake to my guests last weekend. They both went down well. Hint: the potatoes do dull the taste a little, so I think it could do well without them.

    • Thanks for sharing your experiences with the old recipes. It’s always fun to hear how a recipe turns out. It’s interesting how mashed potatoes were included in the old recipe.

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