The Quest for My Aunt’s Mothers Chocolate Cake

So I must admit that I am not a chocolate cake lover(flourless being the exception to this), in fact I will usually pass on it. However, back when I was 9 years old we went back to visit my grandmother and grandfather. My grandmother was a horrible cook and luckily for us, rarely did cook. My grandfather loved to trap us in the car and go for drives in the car that lasted for hours. For a 9 year old nothing is worse. One afternoon we made a stop….thank God, we usually didn’t get to stop. We stopped at my aunt’s mothers house and she invited us in for cake. I was very excited….released from the car AND cake. Then I saw it, chocolate cake. Ugh. I had already said that I wanted cake before I knew what it was, so I knew I had to be polite and eat it or my mother would have killed me. So there it sat in front of me. It was a homely cake, the frosting all uneven, but piled up nice and high. It sat there with my big glass of milk. And sat there. Until finally, my mother broke down and gave me the evil eye. In I popped a piece of cake to my mouth. Oh my God, this is good. Really, really good. It was like no other chocolate cake that I have ever had. It could just be that it was the taste of freedom(from the 5 hour ride in the back of the Oldsmobile) but I’m pretty sure it was the cake. My aunt’s mother has long since past and no one seems to remember that cake….except me, so it was up to me to recreate it. I was inspired by Lis and her quest for finding a good chocolate cake recipe….well Lis, here it is. It comes from Tish Boyle’s Cake book(you should buy this people). I chose to find a non-fancy cake since my aunt’s mother didn’t seem like the fancy type of lady. This recipe had ingredients I am quite sure were around in those days. I’m not positive this is the exact cake but close and the frosting is it for sure!


Deeply Dark Devil’s Food Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
11 TBSP unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cups warm water

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Grease two 9 inch cake rounds and dust with flour.
2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix to incorporate.
3. Beat the butter at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add the sugar and beat on high speed for about 3 minutes. Add the cocoa powder and beat for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides with a spatula. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the vanilla. On low speed, add the flour mixture in three additons alternating with the warm water in two additions. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix at low speed for 30 seconds. Pour batter into prepared pans.
4. Bake cake for 45-55 mintues. Cool cake for 20 minutes after baking.
5. Remove cake from pan and let cool completely before frosting.

Fudgy Chocolate Frosting 

3 ounces unsweetended chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 TBSP vanilla extract

1. Put both chocolates in a stainless steel bowl and place bowl over a pot of barely simmering water. Heat, stirring frequently, until the chocoalte is completely melted. Remove the bowl from the pot and set the chocolate aside to cool.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium until creamy, about 30 seconds. Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat at high speed untl light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Add the cooled chocolate at low speed, mixing until blended and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Increase the speed to high and beat until slightly aerated, about 1 minute.

Source: Both recipes are from The Cake Book by Tish Boyle(recipes were slightly changed in the instruction part)



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  1. Mmm, looks delicious. Especially that frosting. I bet it tasted wonderful after being stuck in the car for hours and hours.

  2. Those pictures are killing me! That is my perfect chocolate cake! Flourless cakes, to me, fall into a whole different category. I think of them more as “torts.” I can tell just by looking at the color and texture of the icing that this is exactly what I like in a simple cake. I’m even considering buying that book, and I’ve just sworn off for at least a month. I am so glad you found your childhood memory. I have a particular chocolate chip cookie that I’m still searching for.

  3. WOOOOOOoo my husband is going to love this! :) Thanks for the recipe — your cake turned out fabulous.

  4. Oh Lordy! Have mercy!
    I hope you, I’m sure you have many friends to help you devour all these deliciously decadent baked goods!

  5. I could live without chocolate cake, too! However, my dad’s favorite kind of cake is choclate with chocolate icing. So, I’m going to tag this to my recipes to try and do it on his birthday! BTW, the oldsmobile part made me laugh…my mom’s parents always had oldmobiles when she was growing up!

  6. Whilst I could also live without chocolate (and chocolate cake) I’d certainly not turn down a slice of this magnificent thing~! Looks delish!

  7. wow – amazing…looks indeed as a very perfect cake
    love the story, it’s so nice to discover something so good when you don’t expect it! =)

  8. Not a chocolate cake lover…whaaa?? That looks so pretty!

  9. Mmmm it looks nice and moist! I find that’s the trouble with a lot of plain chocolate cakes, they’re too dry, this one doesn’t appear to fall into that trap.

  10. You know.. if you were here right now I’d thank you, kiss your cheek grab your cake and run, right? Okay.. just so long as ya know. I can’t wait to try this (obviously!) and I doubt I’ll be able to wait until the weekend. Thank you! Thank you!


  11. Wow – this looks fabulous, as does the icing recipe. I’m always on the lookout for icing recipes that are a little different than the typical buttercreams.

  12. I’m a big fan of flourless chocolate cake Peabody!
    I’ll try your recipe… maybe I will be converted!

  13. I am loving that book! I haven’t made a darn thing from it yet, but I swear calories jump from the pages to my thighs. And stomach. And butt.

    Gorgeous cake, and very much ‘my’ kind, too!

  14. the frosting seriously made me want to lick the screen. i’m not one to pass up chocolate cake; this will need to be tried.

  15. Oh please please no! Too much! I just want to bite in this cake!

  16. This sounds really similar to my favorite chocolate cake, a family friend makes it, and I’ve requested it multiple times for birthdays- delicious!

  17. Aaaah! I love cakes like this!

  18. Oh Gosh! This is to die for!!!!!!

  19. I made this yesterday and it was SO YUMMY! Simply delicious!

    I’m Swedish and our cakes normally center around whipped cream, unlike American cakes which are mostly buttercream-based, right? I should start making more buttercream-cakes, mix it up a bit for my family and friends, because they seem easier to shape while being incredibly delicious at the same time!

    Thanks Peabody!

  20. Bronwyn says:


    I made the cake as specified but for some reason it developed a hard, shiny crust on top and fell in the middle of baking. The internet tells me the sugar ratio is too high – have you had this experience? It did seem less buttery and more sugary in the beginning stages. Should I use an extra tbsp of butter or an extra egg next time? Thank you!

  21. Peabody says:

    Browyn- Sorry it didn’t turn out. I haven’t had that experience with this cake, only flourless cakes. So I don’t think adding butter or an egg would help. But you can always experiment, that is what baking is about.

  22. I made this cake in a bundt pan and drizzled a chocolate ganache glaze because I was mysteriously missing one of my round cake pans and didn’t have enough butter to make the frosting.
    It came out amazing!

  23. How much butter for the cake? 1 cup and 1 tablespoon or one stick???

  24. 11 TBSP


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