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I have been in a great little book club for 4 years now and like most book clubs, we have our own way of meeting.  Every 6-8 weeks, one person hosts at their own house and makes dinner for the members.  Before the book is chosen, the host throws out a few titles to the group and we rank order our choices; the book with the most #1 ranks is our next book.  Probably not so coincidentally, we usually all rank the same book as #1.  This time around, it was my turn to host and the group chose Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table, by Ruth Reichl, former editor of Gourmet magazine and food critic for the New York Times.  Even before the book gets chosen, I usually have a plan laid out for what I’m going to cook that night and this time was no different.  I was dying to make something from Pam Anderson’s One-Dish Dinners but my plan was foiled because 10 pages into the book, recipes started showing up.  I couldn’t possibly host book club for this book without cooking from the book!

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Of the two recipes I made, it’s a tough choice for the top spot.  Reichl described this cake as one that would make the boys happy.  It was one that, as a teenager with absent parents, she would whip up in the middle of the night while her friends partied in her house.  This autobiography of the early part of her life is almost unimaginable because of the experiences she had at such a young age but this cake is very real.  And very good.  And the 7 minute frosting is to die for!  The impossibly chocolaty cake with a generous amount of fluffy and dreamy frosting is all anyone could ask for in a dessert. It was the perfect way, along with a cold glass of milk, to wrap up a great evening of food, chit-chat, and literature with friends.

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Devil’s Food Cake & 7 Minute Frosting
source: adapted from Ruth Reichl, Tender at the Bone

Ingredients:

For the cake:
2 cups sifted cake flour (Sift first then measure.)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
3/4 cup cocoa
1/3 cup white sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the 7 minute frosting:
4 egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions:

To Make the Cake:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease two 9″ cake pans. In a medium bowl, mixture together the cake flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Heat milk in small pan until bubbles begin to appear around edges. Remove from heat.Mix cocoa and white sugar together in a small bowl and slowly beat in warm milk. Let cool.

In the bowl of a stand mixture fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter with the brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla (the mixture will look curdled but that’s OK). In three alternating additions, add the flour mixture and the cocoa mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and mixing each addition only until it is just combined.  After the last addition of flour, beat on medium speed for 10 seconds.

Pour batter into cake pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until cake shrinks slightly from sides of pans and springs back when touched gently in the center. Cool on a rack for a few minutes, then turn out onto rack.Wait until completely cool before frosting.

To Make the Frosting:
Combine egg whites, sugar, water, cream of tartar, and salt in a completely dry heatproof bowl (I recommend using your stand mixer bowl because you’ll need it to finish the frosting) set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk the mixture frequently until the temperature on a candy/deep fry or instant read thermometer reads 170 degrees F. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the mixture until frosting is stiff enough to spread. Use immediately. This looks like a lot, but use it all; it is enough to generously fill and frost the cake.

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Devil’s Food Cake

  • Prep Time: 35min
  • Cook Time: 25-30min
  • Yield: 12-16 servings

Ingredients

For the cake:
2 cups sifted cake flour (sift first then measure)
1 ½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup milk
¾ cup cocoa
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla

For the 7 minute frosting:
4 egg whites
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/8 tsp table salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  • 01

    To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease two 9″ cake pans. In a medium bowl, mixture together the cake flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

  • 02

    Heat milk in small pan until bubbles begin to appear around edges. Remove from heat. Mix cocoa and white sugar together in a small bowl and slowly beat in warm milk. Let cool.

  • 03

    In the bowl of a stand mixture fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter with the brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla (the mixture will look curdled but that’s OK). In three alternating additions, add the flour mixture and the cocoa mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and mixing each addition only until it is just combined. After the last addition of flour, beat on medium speed for 10 seconds. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans.

  • 04

    Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until cake shrinks slightly from sides of pans and springs back when touched gently in the center. Cool on a wire rack for a few minutes, then turn the cakes out onto two racks. Wait until completely cool before frosting.

  • 05

    To make the frosting: Combine egg whites, sugar, water, cream of tartar, and salt in a completely dry heatproof bowl (I recommend using your stand mixer bowl because you’ll need it to finish the frosting) set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk the mixture frequently until the temperature on a candy/deep fry or instant read thermometer reads 170° F. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

  • 06

    Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the mixture until frosting is stiff enough to spread. Frost the cake immediately. It will look like a lot of frosting, but use all of it; there will enough to generously fill and frost the cake.

adapted from Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl

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  • January 10, 2011 at 5:33 AM

    Looks great! I’m not surprised! 😉 I love the pure white frosting.

  • January 10, 2011 at 8:33 AM

    Beautiful job. This cake looks so elegant.

  • January 10, 2011 at 7:32 PM

    Wow, this cake looks perfectly sinful! Absolutely lovely!

  • January 10, 2011 at 8:09 PM

    Can I be part of that book club? If this is what you guys usually eat at the meetings it must be the best book bclub ever. I need to bookmark this recipe. My husband birthday is coming up and I was looking for a great frosting recipe. Beautiful!

  • January 10, 2011 at 8:17 PM

    This cake looks amazing! I can only imagine the elegant richness that lies within… yum! I want to join a book club now. 🙂

  • January 10, 2011 at 8:33 PM

    Such a pretty cake! I just love devil’s food. Now I need to go check out that book. Thanks for sharing!

  • January 10, 2011 at 8:43 PM

    The frosting looks great! I’ve never made one with eggwhites; I usually just do a simple buttercream, but something like this would really be a great change.

  • January 10, 2011 at 9:21 PM

    I love books that have good recipes along the way 🙂 I’m big into the food novels right now! This cake sounds fabulous.. I made 7 minute frosting for the first time a few weeks ago and fell in love.. I can only imagine how all this tastes!

  • January 10, 2011 at 9:34 PM

    YUM! I want to see the inside!!! 😀

  • January 10, 2011 at 10:34 PM

    What a great looking cake! I too am in a book club and we are reading – “On the corner of bitter and sweet”. I have long wanted to make the 7 minute frosting since is just sounds so tasty. Great photos! Happy New Year!

  • January 11, 2011 at 10:58 AM

    wow! the cake simply looks gorgeous-

  • January 11, 2011 at 11:21 PM

    Pretty!
    Jess : )

  • January 12, 2011 at 11:58 AM

    Beautiful cake! That frosting looks amazingly fluffy.

  • January 12, 2011 at 8:54 PM

    Oh, how I love 7- Minute Frosting! And Devil’s Food Cake, for that matter! Your cake is beautiful…I love how you added chocolate shavings.

  • February 7, 2011 at 3:25 PM

    devil is lucky to get such a cake !!! lovely yummy wonderful

  • Laura
    February 26, 2011 at 6:23 PM

    Love the cake and frosting, but is there a mistake in the frosting ingredients? You have 1/8 tsp salt and also 1/2 tsp salt listed. Unfortunately, I only saw the 1/2 tsp and used that…the frosting, needless to say, was a bit on the salty side. Will use 1/8 next time.

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