How to Make the Famous Nana’s Devil’s Food Cake

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Learn to make Nana's Devil's Food Cake, an iconic 1960s recipe for rich, fudgy chocolate cake.

If you ask anyone to share a cherished memory of Grandma, we bet that memory revolves around some sort of delicious baked good. From old-fashioned peanut butter cookies to classic lemon bars, we all have one recipe that makes us think of her. The most famous such recipe on the internet right now? Nana’s Devil’s Food Cake.

This rich, chocolaty cake will bring you back to days at Grandma’s kitchen table with a fork in one hand and gooey frosting on your cheeks, chin and nose. Keep reading for the step-by-step recipe so you can create a bit of Grandma’s baking magic in your own kitchen.

Where Did Nana’s Devil’s Food Cake Come From?

Nobody knows for sure where the original recipe was printed. Combing through Reddit threads revealed that many users first remember trying this recipe in the 1960s while visiting their grandmothers.

Geographically, this recipe seems to have the strongest roots in the Northeast, particularly in Pennsylvania and New York. However, users in Missouri and other Midwestern states also claim to have grown up with a similar recipe.

All we know for sure is that this cake is delicious and makes us appreciate our grandmothers even more!

How to Make Nana’s Devil’s Food Cake

Nanas Devils Food Cake SliceLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup brewed coffee, room temperature

Tools You’ll Need

Directions

Step 1: Preheat the oven

Preheat over to 325°F. Grease and flour a Bundt pan. (Need help? The Taste of Home Test Kitchen demonstrates how to grease a Bundt pan the right way.)

Step 2: Sift dry ingredients

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside.

Step 3: Mix wet ingredients

Next, in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs and beat until well-combined, about 2-3 minutes.

Step 4: Combine

With your mixer on its lowest setting, gradually add in the dry ingredients and mix until everything is just moistened. Take care not to overmix (that’s one of the most common cake baking mistakes).

Add the milk and coffee and mix until a thin, smooth batter forms.

Step 5: Bake

Transfer the batter to your prepared baking pan and bake until the cake reaches an internal temperature of 210°. You can use an instant-read digital thermometer, like a Thermapen. You can also test the cake’s doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. The cake is fully baked when the toothpick comes out clean when removed.

Step 6: Cool

Promptly remove the cake from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes in the pan. Then, turn out the cake onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Step 7: Decorate and serve

Frost and decorate as desired (here are some cake decorating tips). Then slice and serve. ENJOY!

Tips & Tricks for Baking Nana’s Devil’s Food Cake

Nanas Devils Food Cake OverheadLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

What type of pan should I use?

Use whatever pan size and shape you have on hand. Just note that you’ll likely need to adjust the baking times and temperature slightly to make the perfect cake.

The recipe, as written above, yields enough batter for:

  • (2) 9-inch rounds
  • (1) 9×13 sheet pan
  • (1) standard Bundt pan
  • (12) standard cupcakes

What type of frosting is best?

It’s safe to say that everyone’s grandma tops this cake a little differently. We opted to drizzle ours with a simple chocolate ganache. However, feel free to decorate yours however you please. Here are a few of our homemade frostings, icings and glazes for Nana’s Devil’s Food Cake:

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Lauren Habermehl
Lauren Habermehl is a recipe developer, food photographer and creator of the blog, Frydae. She is a prolific quoter of FRIENDS, lover of weekend DIY projects and procrastinating fitness enthusiast who enjoys exploring the Milwaukee-area with her husband, daughter and ugly mutt named Tyson Doodles.