“Nick’s chocolate cake was the kind of delicious that would make even those annoying people who say ‘I’m not a dessert person trample’ old ladies and small children to get the last piece. The frosting—what the hell was in it? I’d watched him make it, hadn’t I? Was it vanilla? It tasted almost like a marshmallow but I hadn’t seen any marshmallows on the counter. And how did he get it to stiffen into those delightful little peaks that gave the texture a hint of a crunch?”
— Coco, FORKED
Nick is definitely a man who knows his way around the kitchen as well as he does around the bedroom. He can cook AND bake, which are definitely two different things (I can cook, but I am not a good baker. Ask my kids!).
The cake he makes for his grandmother in FORKED is actually a recipe my my family history, and it has kind of an interesting story behind it.
During the 1920s, my grandmother’s sister Margaret traveled as a nanny with a wealthy family from Detroit up to their summer home in northern Michigan (what we MI folks call “up North”). The family also brought along other domestic workers including their cook, Mae.
The story goes that Mae guarded her recipes very closely–she wouldn’t share them with anyone–but on Margaret’s final night with the family before she returned to Detroit, Mae let her look through her recipes! “Mae’s Chocolate Cake” was the first one she went for.
But for those of you who like a challenge and a cake from scratch, here you go!
(Don’t tell Mae I told you.)
MAE’S CHOCOLATE CAKE
1 ½ cup sugar (my grandma cut to 1 ¼…the Depression and all)
½ cup butter
¾ sour cream or milk
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
2 cups cake flour
1/8 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
½ cup cocoa mixed with ½ cup hot water (Grandma cut to ¼ c)
- Preheat oven to 350
- Sift flour with baking powder and salt. Dissolve soda in sour cream.
- Cream butter and sugar. Add beaten eggs. Beat.
- Add flour mixture alternately with sour cream. Add vanilla. Beat.
- Add cocoa and water mixture. Beat.
- Pour into 8 inch layer cake pans. Bake for 25 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes and remove to cooling racks.
1 cup sugar
1 ¾ T. cold water
2 egg whites unbeaten
Put this mixture over boiling water and beat for 7 minutes (maybe 4 minutes with electric).**
Cool and add:
¼ t. cream of tartar
1 t. vanilla
Mix and put on cake immediately.
**This note cracks me up because originally they did not have electric mixers! She had a hand mixer, which I inherited along with her recipe book–lucky me!