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I'm a London-based food writer, stylist and author. Click here to see more about me and my work

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Anyone sick of cupcakes yet? Not for devils food!

One word. Nope. I can barely walk past The Hummingbird Bakery in Notting Hill without succumbing to their red velvet cakes. Bakeries are popping up all over London and cupcakes popularity hasn’t wavered. Recently on a trip to New York, I visited the homage to retro baking, The Magnolia Bakery. Allysa Tovey, the owner, is credited with spawning a global, insatiable trend for American cakes. Many have followed her formula but she was truly the first.

As much as I love to buy cupcakes on the go, it starts to get a little expensive if you want more than two. Recently I made them for a friend’s birthday instead of a cake. I tried to think of the moistest cake I could convert and immediately settled on devils food. It’s spongy texture and light chocolate taste perfectly suits cupcakes. The method for making devils food is slightly different from other cake batters. The softened butter is added to the dry ingredients with a bit of liquid. It may seem odd but it almost creates a whipped emulsion similar to mousse. It’s much easier to make if you have a standing mixer but you can still use an electric whisk. Here is my result.

Devils food cupcakes with buttercream frosting
20 minutes preparation, 25 minutes cooking
makes 18 cakes

40g/1. 5 oz unsweetened cocoa powder
175ml/6 fl oz boiling water
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
175g/6oz sifted superfine/cake or ’00′ flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
175g/6oz unsalted butter, softened
225g/7.5 oz castor sugar

Preheat oven to 180c/350f. Arrange paper cupcake liners in a large muffin/cupcake pan. Whisk together the boiling water and cocoa in a medium bowl until smooth. Let cool in the refrigerator for 15 minutes until its room temperature. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.

In the mixing bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda, and sugar. Mix on low-speed and then add the softened butter and 125ml/1/2 cup of the cocoa mixture. Mix on low-speed and then turn up to medium and beat for 2 minutes. Add the remaining cocoa/egg mixture in three batches, beating after each addition. Fill the cupcake liners three-quarters full and bake for 20-25 minutes. Insert a toothpick and if it comes out clean its done. Let cool in the pan. At this point you can store the cakes unfrosted in an airtight container for 2-3 days and they will stay moist.

Buttercream frosting

125g/4oz unsalted butter, softened
500g/1 lb icing sugar sifted
3 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla

Combine the butter, half the sugar, milk and vanilla in the mixing bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium speed for a couple of minutes and then add the remaining sugar. Beat for 2 minutes until light and airy. If it looks oily or too thick, then add another tsp of milk and whip until fluffy. Frost the cupcakes using a cake palette knife. It’s up to you but I like a liberal amount of frosting. Decorate with sprinkles or silver balls.



  1. Jane says:

    Hey Jennifer – congrats on the blog – it looks fantastic – and I already know how fab the book is!!! well done.

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