How to make Nana’s famous devil’s food cake

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

If you ask someone to share a fond memory of their grandmother, we bet the memory revolves around some sort of delicious well cooked. From old fashioned peanut butter cookies to classic lemon bars, we all have a recipe that makes us think of her. The most popular recipe on the internet right now? Nana’s Devil’s Food Cake.

This rich chocolate cake will take you back to the days at grandma’s kitchen table with a fork in one hand and sticky icing on your cheeks, chin and nose. Continue reading for the step-by-step recipe to be able to create some Grandma’s baking magic in your own kitchen.

Where does Nana’s Devil’s Food Cake come from?

No one knows for sure where the original recipe was printed. Combing the threads of Reddit revealed that many users remember first 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 report growing 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 Slice

Lauren Habermehl for Taste of Home


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

Tools you need


Step 1: Preheat the oven

Preheat to 325° F. Grease and flour a Bundt pan. (Need help? U 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, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, sodium bicarbonate and baking powder. Put it aside.

Step 3: Mix the wet ingredients

Then, in the bowl of a stand mixerfitted 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 the dry ingredients and mix until everything is right moistened Be careful not to mix too much (this is one of the the most common cake baking mistakes).

Add the milk and coffee and mix until a thin, smooth paste is formed.

Step 5: Bake

Transfer the batter to your prepared pan and bake until the cake reaches an internal temperature of 210°. You can use an instant-read digital thermometer, such as a Thermapen. You can too try baking the cake inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. The cake is completely cooked when the toothpick comes out clean when removed.

Step 6: Cool

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

Step 7: Decorate and serve

Frost and decorate as desired (here are some cake decorating tips). Then cut and serve. HAVE FUN!

Tips and tricks for making Nana’s Devil’s Food Cake

Nanas Devils Food Cake Overhead

Lauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

What kind of pan should I use?

Use whatever size and shape pan you have on hand. Just note that you need to adjust the cooking time and temperature slightly make the perfect cake.

The recipe, as written above, makes enough dough for:

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

Which type of frosting is best?

It’s safe to say that everyone’s grandmother tops this cake a little differently. We opted to drizzle ours with a simple one chocolate ganache. However, feel free to decorate yours as you wish. Here are some of ours 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 FRIENDS reader, weekend DIY project lover, and fitness enthusiast who enjoys exploring the Milwaukee area with her husband, daughter, and ugly mutt named Tyson Doodles.