Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Retro Recipe: Mom's Chocolate Cake

I'm just gonna go ahead and call this a retro recipe because, well, look at the recipe my mom has used since the start of time (aka when my sisters and I were babies). Also, the frosting recipe is a health concern - more on that later.

All that aside, considering I had this cake on my first birthday, I'd say this recipe counts as retro. Born in '88 what-whaaaaat?

But yes! You read it correctly - this cake has been in my family for literally decades. OK, 2-3 decades, but still! This is HER cake, HER specialty. She made it for nearly every birthday (except for the ones my grandmother created cakes in the shapes of characters for us) and there were never leftovers.

In fact, we have a hilarious family video of 1 year old me, shoveling this cake into my mouth (and everywhere around my mouth) by the handful, humming along as I enjoy every morsel.

A photo of this very cake, on my 1st birthday, made as a bundt cake

Gee, is it at all surprising to learn I couldn't get enough dessert even at a young age?

In a recent turn of events, I decided I wanted to make my mom's cake for HER birthday. See if I could live up to her reputation and make the same amazingly rich cake she has made for ages. It was a little nerve-wracking (okay A LOT nerve-wracking) but I found the courage and went for it.

Did my cake live up to hers? Well, heck no, nothing is as great as the original. I don't know, my mom's got the magic touch, I guess! But it didn't matter in the end - it was loved and devoured by all with big smiles on our faces.

Let me break it down for you. This cake is no joke. It's rich, decadent, and a little - dare I say - heavy. It's a dense cake, a fudgy cake, a cake similar to what I imagine Bruce's cake was like when he gorged himself in Matilda.

Poor Bruce.

You definitely need a large glass of milk with this cake and it might be wise to cancel any plans you have after eating this cake. Trust me - you're gonna want a nap.

But napping aside, this cake will make you happy. It's as good as a chocolate cake can get and after having it for my mother's birthday recently, I remember why it was everyone's choice when their birthday came around.

Disclaimer: I totally went the easy route and used canned frosting as my mother always has (SUE ME, AMERICA!) but I assure all you frosting wiz kids out there that it was also partially because the frosting recipe that accompanies this cake recipe calls or 1 raw egg. Hmm. Cody and I didn't feel 100% sure that was safe so I zipped out to the store and relied on good ol' Duncan Hines. Anyone know if it's cool to make a frosting with a raw egg or perhaps this recipe really IS retro and back then they just didn't know a thing or two about salmonella?

Mom's Chocolate Cake

  • 4 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 jars of your favorite frosting
  1. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate and butter until smooth.
  2. Pour chocolate mixture into mixer bowl and let sit until cooled, about 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, line the bottom of two 9-inch round cake pans with waxed paper.
  4. In medium bowl, stir flour with baking powder and salt until mixed.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  6. Beat sugar into cooled chocolate mixture on low speed until mixed.
  7. Beat in eggs until well blended.
  8. Add vanilla extract to milk.
  9. Carefully add 1/4 of flour mixture and mix until just combined, then add 1/3 of the milk mixture until smooth. Repeat process until all flour and milk is used - ending with flour mixture.
  10. Pour flour evenly into pans and bake for 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out ALMOST clean (you want to bake this until it is ALMOST done for ultimate fudgy-ness).*
  11. Cool cake in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove cake layers from pans and cool completely on racks before frosting with your favorite chocolate frosting (homemade or not!).
*if baking in a bundt pan (like my mom!), bake from 40-50 minutes

SURPRISE BONUS! Here, ladies and gentlemen, for your viewing pleasure, is a clip of 1 year old Sara on her birthday (in an awesome birthday dress - which you can hear my mother hoping to protect when she takes away said cake!), stuffing this cake into her face:

I also want to switch topics for a moment to ask a favor - some of you may know Jessica of Chronically Vintage. She is such a lovely gal who loves vintage and is always leaving such thoughtful comments on my blog as well as others. Last week, she and her husband lost everything in a devastating fire. They saved their dog but could not save their kitty and all their clothes, belongings, and furniture has been lost. Please consider donating here, if you can!