Barton Hollow, TN & Devil’s Food Cake

My ears exploded the night of the 2012 Grammy’s. I typically never watch those sorts of things, mainly because the thought of Katy Perry turns me borderline hulk-like. But Adele was performing, which I think is why almost every single person with cable tuned in to watch.

 In the middle of the awards, cameras panned onto a duo known as The Civil Wars. Guitarist John Paul White in all of his Depp-like glory thanked all of his ‘opening acts,’ which included Adele, Bruce Springsteen, and Chris Brown. Bold for a musician I had never heard of before. It seemed like out of know where, John Paul and the duo’s better half Joy Williams unloaded more volume than any of their stage heavy ‘openers’ did. They played Barton Hollow for 30 seconds before introducing Taylor Swift.

Why Taylor, why did you have to make them stop playing?

For the love of God, riddle me this! Who allowed The Civil Wars to play for 30 seconds, while Katy Perry rolled around on stage as an alien and Nicki Minaj had an exorcism for around 8 minutes each? Please, I need answers to this. Someone get the CEO of CBS on the phone.

I almost immediately became infatuated with them, learning about how they toured just as man with a guitar and woman, a feat that little Grammy musicians even think about attempting. They stripped down music to its bare essentials, which really opened the eyes of new music seekers and definitely got the country talking.

 As performers, Joy rides John Paul’s sound waves, hypnotizing the audience probably into buying CD’s. I mean, it worked on me once I saw them sing My Father’s Father beneath a canopy of Californian Redwood trees.

Not to mention they do a cover of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean better than the King himself.

I wanted to create a recipe inspired by Barton Hollow. While performing at Rolling Stone Studios, John Paul said on the real Barton Hallow, Tennessee, “It’s a place you don’t go to do anything legal. So I feel like it kind of fits us.”

The chorus reads:

Ain’t going back to Barton Hallow

Devil gonna follow me e’er I go

Won’t do me no good washing in the river

Can’t no preacher man save me soul.

Devilish. Outlawed. Unspoken. Damned. It’s it obvious? Devil’s Food Cake. And you want to know how I made Devil’s Food Cake a little more rebellious? By cranking up the whisky.

Devil’s Food Cake

Ingredients For Cake

2 1/4 Cups all-purpose flour + extra for dusting the pan

1 1/2 Teaspoons baking soda

1 Teaspoon baking powder

1/2 Teaspoon salt

12 Tablespoons butter + extra for greasing the pan, room temperature

2 Cups + 2 Tablespoons white sugar

3/4 cups cocoa powder

2 Teaspoons vanilla extract

3 Eggs, room temperature

2 Teaspoons instant coffee

3 Tablespoons Whisky (optional, but definitely encouraged)

1 1/4 Cups water, at room temperature

1/4 Cup buttermilk

Ingredients for Ganache 

1/2 Cup + 3 Tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 Cup heavy cream

2 Tablespoons Whisky (again, optional)

1/4 Cup powdered sugar for dusting


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a mixer, beat the butter until smooth- about 2 minutes. Then, gradually add the sugar and beat until fluffy- about 5 minutes. Add the cocoa powder. In a small cup, mix vanilla with instant coffee until it is just dissolved. Add to mixer and mix for 1 minute. Add eggs one at a time and beat until it is well combined.
  4. Bring water and buttermilk to a light boil and remove from heat. Buttermilk will separate- this is good.
  5. On a low speed, gradually add flour mixture, alternating with the water-buttermilk liquid. Once it comes together, add the whisky and beat for 1 more minute.
  6. Using extra butter, heavily grease a bundt pan and then give it a light dusting of flour. This will prevent the cake from sticking.
  7. Cook for 50-60 minutes or until it is toothpick clean. Allow to cool
  8. TO MAKE THE GANACHE: In a double boiler, heat the heavy cream, chocolate chips, and whisky. Allow it to melt together before whisking heavily so it forms a uniform chocolate. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before drizzling onto the top of the cake. Once it is all cooled, sprinkle the top of the cake with powdered sugar.

“Miles and miles in my bare feet
Still can’t lay me down to sleep
If I die before I wake
I know the Lord my soul won’t take” ~ The Civil Wars, Barton Hollow

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6 Responses to Barton Hollow, TN & Devil’s Food Cake

  1. dude! you are waaaay too talented. this is fantastic, creative, and original–just like most things on this site. makes me hungry every time.

  2. What an absolutely wonderful find – your blog, that is, as I have been a CW fan since the day they began. I think, though, that – of all the reviewers they have had – your review is the best as it puts “the music machine” in its place (I also wondered why they only had a few moments on stage) and introduces a devilishly good (sounding) dessert to this inept baker who is lucky enough to have a daughter who is awesome at baking. 🙂 Thanks so much!

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