Cakes · Desserts

A Devil’s Food Cake with Sweet Buttercream…

Does anyone remember a dessert from the Olive Garden called ‘Chocolate Lasagna’? It was a rich cake that had thin layers of chocolate cake and buttercream. It my favorite dessert ever! While I was growing up, I asked to go to Olive Garden every year on my birthday  just so I could have a huge piece of chocolate lasagna with a birthday candle in it. And then, a few years ago, they took it off the menu. My birthday dreams were crushed. How could I celebrate my birthday, the day of the year that is supposed to be the greatest of all, without chocolate lasagna? For years, I went without it. But then, in my junior year of high school, I scoured the vast and dark corners of the internet and found a copycat recipe that tasted exactly the same…

But the recipe said to use a Betty Crocker cake mix. It did taste exactly like the original dessert – which makes me wonder if the Olive Garden and Betty Crocker have a deal – I found this copycat recipe and started making it myself for each of my birthdays. But this year was so full of different plans and different schedules for different people, that I ended up having a few different parties and birthday desserts! Ty just threw my surprise birthday party with all of our friends a few nights ago! Since I didn’t get a chance to make this cake for my birthday, I got a craving to make it yesterday. Luckily, I had Lydia with me and she was all for a giant chocolate cake!

I decided to make the devil’s food cake from scratch instead of using a mixed mix. The recipe is from a very reliable source: Chocolate Cakes by Elinor Klivans. This is a book that is entirely made up of different kinds of chocolate cakes. I used her basic Devil’s Food Cake recipe.

I started the cake by chopping up some unsweetened baker’s chocolate…

…and put it in a double boiler to melt…

In a separate bowl, Lydia sifted together cake flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. 

Then, in my mixer, I beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar together until smooth and creamy.


Next came the eggs. I beat them in one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after adding each egg. Then I poured in a splash of vanilla.

Look! There’s my arm! Lydia took this picture.

We poured in the melted chocolate as the mixer was spinning on a low speed. When that was mixed thoroughly, we alternated adding in buttermilk and the sifted dry ingredients so that the flour was added in three parts and the buttermilk in two.

The batter came out very dense and thick. I divided the batter between two prepared 9 inch cake pans…

…and baked them in the oven for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake came out clean.

I let the cakes cool in their pans for about 10 minutes, and then I lifted them out and pulled down the foil. And then I saw it…

My cakes were flat again! This really discouraged me, I have never had this problem before the last few months! At this point, my guess as to why this keeps happening is that I’m mixing the batter too much, letting out all of the air or over-mixing the eggs, or that I need to replace my baking soda. I’m going to stay as cautious as possible when I mix cake batters now! I figured that, once again, it wouldn’t end well if I tried to slice these in half, so I decided to just frost this as a regular cake, short as it may be…

Lydia and I let the cakes cool for a while, and came back a few hours later to make the buttercream frosting. This buttercream recipe is the recipe that was used in Olive Garden for the chocolate lasagna.

It starts with beating softened butter in a mixer…

…and adding powdered sugar by the cup…


When all of the powdered sugar was mixed in, I added in some whole milk and vanilla extract. Then it was good to go!

What I really love about this frosting is that it can actually be made in less than five minutes! My butter was super soft, so it blended together very easily. Then I started assembling the cake.

Ignore the powdered sugar spill!

I laid one of the cake layers on a plate and frosted it all around. I wanted to make sure that there was a thick layer of buttercream on top of the cake. Then I sprinkled a layer of semi-sweet chocolate chips over top.

I placed the second cake layer upside-down on top of the first layer and plopped the rest of the frosting on top….

…and smoothed it down the sides of the cake gently in an even, thick layer around the cake.

Then I held up the cake plate with one hand, and grabbed some semi-sweet chocolate chips with the other. I shook the chocolate chips in my hand so that they spread out in my palm, and then I gently pushed them onto the side of the cake. I repeated this until I had chocolate chips all around the side of the cake. 

Then I made sure that the top of the  cake was even, and I put it into the refrigerator to set for 20 minutes. After the frosting was fairly firm to the touch, I brought it out and served it up! 

As it has always been, the chocolate “lasagna” was a smashing hit! Even though this cake didn’t end up being like a lasagna because I didn’t cut the cake into thin layers, it still passes as one classy chocolate cake, which is what I decided to title this cake. As per usual, there were plenty of people in my apartment, and most of them went back for seconds. I made this last night and it’s already gone. That made me feel awesome, everyone kept going on about how delicious this cake was. The chocolate cakes were so moist, and the buttercream was so sweet that it all balanced out into one delicious mouthful. There’s no way of holding yourself back from another bite…

Lydia was nice enough to model her hands for this picture, she’s holding up the plate.

Recipe for Devil’s Food Cake with Buttercream

Devil’s Food Cake recipe from Chocolate Cakes by Elinor Klivans

2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 cups cake flour
2/3 cup unsweetened dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Chocolate chocolate and put it in a heatproof bowl over a double boiler. Stir constantly until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. 

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. In an electric mixer on medium sped, beat the butter and sugars until smoothly blended and creamy, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until each is blended into the batter. Add the vanilla and beat for 2 minutes. 

On a low speed, mix in the melted chocolate. Add the dry ingredients in three additions alternately with the buttermilk in two additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and mixing just until the flour is incorporated and the batter looks smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pans, dividing the batter evenly.

Bake just until the tops feel firm when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes for 9-inch layers. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes.

Recipe for Olive Garden Buttercream frosting:

1 1/2 cups butter, softened 
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

4 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips, chilled

Beat the softened butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed. Add two cups of powdered sugar, mix well, and add the remaining powdered sugar. When the sugar is incorporated with the butter, add the milk and the vanilla. Mix on high speed for 2 minutes or until the frosting is light and fluffy.


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