Sunday, September 12, 2010

Chocolate Cake

It is supposed to rain today.

I have been wishing for a rainy day for weeks now.

I think I would like to walk for hours in the rain. Without an umbrella.

My brother invited me to an NFL kickoff party today. He lives about an hour away. I said I would come but I'm going to call him and tell him I changed my mind. I don't think I can be around that many people, that much noise and that much excitement about a game.

I baked a cake yesterday. Not just any cake, but my grandmother's chocolate cake.

My nanny died fourteen years ago. She was 93 years old and she baked the best chocolate cakes you ever tasted. German chocolate, red velvet, and this one.

I've only shared this recipe with one person. And I made her swear to never share it with anyone else and never tell my sisters that I gave her the recipe. She lives in Arizona so I felt pretty safe they wouldn't find out.

It's a pretty easy cake to make. You put everything in the mixing bowl at once, then beat it up and pour the batter in the pans and bake it. Voila.

I put everything in the mixing bowl and turned on the mixer. Nothing. I looked and realized that I hadn't plugged the mixer in. I'm a little foggy these days.

So I plug the mixer in and WHIRRRR - batter flew everywhere. In my hair, on the cabinets, the counters, down my shirt, there was even batter in my shoes.

Two months ago I would have let go with a string of profanity that would make a sailor blush. TBHITW would have rushed in and gotten upset to see me upset. He would have said to me "it's just cake" and I would have yelled, JUST CAKE? LOOK AT THIS MESS!

Yesterday, with chocolate cake batter flung high and low and dripping off the walls I stood there and laughed until I cried.

I think my grandmother was teaching me a lesson. Don't sweat the small stuff.
I think TBHITW would have been proud of me. If grief is growth, I am growing.

I'm going to share this recipe with you because what good is having the best chocolate cake recipe in the world if you're not going to share it? Just make sure to turn the mixer on slowly.

Nanny's Moist Chocolate Cake: makes a 2 layer cake

Preheat oven to 350. Set the oven rack in the middle of the oven.
Butter and flour two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans.

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup hot coffee
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Put everything (starting with the dry ingredients) in a large mixing bowl. Plug in your mixer. Beat on low speed (trust me on this one) until well combined. The batter is very thin.
Pour into prepared pans and bake in the center of the oven until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, about 35 minutes.
Cool in pans for about 10 minutes, then invert onto racks and cool completely before frosting.

A Cook's Notes: I cleaned everything up and started over. The cake came out beautifully. I frosted it, gave the 16 year old a piece and gave the rest to my neighbor. Like I said, what good is having a great cake recipe if you don't give it away?


  1. Thank you. I will make it on a special occassion and remember you.

  2. The only thing that comes to mind at the sight of that cake is...YUM!

  3. Ah yes the lessons that teach us to not sweat the small stuff. The things that taught me this were big things, such as the grief you are experiencing over the loss of your husband. In comparison to such things as losing the love of your life, many things don't even come close to being worth getting upset over.

    Thanks for sharing your recipe...I am so going to make this...I made a recipe similar to this recently and instead of the milk it was buttermilk and instead of the coffee it was plain water. I bet the coffee adds good flavor to this.

    I hope you get your rainy day and even get to take a walk in it. XX

  4. What a lovely cake recipe. Now I know what to make for our dinner guests tonight! I love family recipes. Recently, I've been missing my Nana (she passed away right before Thanksgiving last year) more and more as the anniversary of her passing draws nearer and I keep asking my Dad for any of her recipes or kitchen tips that he can remember. She was a great cook and a wonderful lady.

  5. Thanks for sharing the recipe, it looks sooooo good. I am printing out the recipe now and I intend to make it next month for a birthday dinner. Hugs.

  6. Your post always touch my heart! Thank you for sharing both the recipe and also your journey. Blessings to you.

  7. I just recently found your blog and have been so touched reading your entries. I am so sorry for your loss.

    Your chocolate cake sounds easy to make and looks delicious (right up my alley). Is there a specific frosting you like to use?

  8. Anonymous - use your favorite. I used nutella, butter, powdered sugar and cream for this frosting. But that's another post.

  9. I just discovered your blog, and that I love you. Well, I loved your post, and ergo, you, the person who wrote it. Was especially touched by the grief and laughter part--I can so relate. Feels good surrendering, doesn't it? Thanks for the recipe and the generosity that came with it. You inspire :)

  10. It is said that chocolate fixes everything. That one sounds so good it might actually have a shot at it.

  11. I totally loved the visual of you plugging in the mixer and it whirrrlllling and seeing batter ingredients flopping all over the place from wall to wall-ceiling to floor...........I would ask the neighbors if I could borrow their dog to help clean up....then I would fill the kitchen sink with a thick lather of bubbles from baby shampoo and then I'd call the kids in the kitchen and start a bubble fight...we'd fling bubbles at one another and eventually start scrubbing the floors and walls and whatever with the baby bubbles.........

    Recipe sounds great.....does the Coffee give it a slight coffee flavor? OR does it serve a different purpose?

    AND....I have a cooking question....I have the Marshmallow Frosting Recipe.......(butter, marshmallows, and vanilla) and I was wondering if I could turn it to a chocolate marshmallow frosting by just adding cocoa? Would it still turn out? ((Did you happen to see my blog the day I posted that a few months ago))

  12. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe. We will try it soon I promise. Hope your week coming up will be a great one. Take care of yourself.

  13. Right abut now I wish I was your neighbor!

    Totally gonna use this recipe!


  14. Rebecca - I have one rule in the kitchen and that is TRY it. Figure it out. You may have to liquify the cocoa to incorporate it correctly - but you know what? You will never know until you try.

  15. It looks delicious, and we have some chocolate-cake-lovers around here, so I'm going to try it. I know what you mean about being a bit foggy; grief will do that.

  16. Thank you for sharing. My daughter's birthday is next week; I think that's the perfect time to give this a try.

    I'm sure grief has a way of putting everything in perspective.

  17. I'm so glad you laughed because that's what I did when I read about you covered in batter. Then I felt guilty for laughing until I saw you laughed. So...thank you for laughing. I have enough guilt in my life already. :-)

    Oh....sharing this recipe is very generous of you. I am going to make one this week. And don't worry....I still won't tell your sisters I have the recipe.

  18. this is my kind of cake recipe..easy in one bowl and mix....I will make it this week..loved the coffee added to it...I think a white frosting may be really good with this..maybe a touch of kahlua in it?? yum!

  19. I love the feeling of walking in the rain. It soothes something in me. And somehow, somedays, it matches my soul and makes me feel like a part of it. Like I belong.

    And it is just cake. And you ARE growing. Painful growing.

  20. Don't feel bad about the game day, you're bound to have days like that. You are still growing and slowly healing. But, I love that you laughed! You need a few of those to remind your body and soul how... and your husband would be proud of you. Oh, and your cake looks wonderful! It's breakfast time and I'm drooling over chocolate cake...

  21. Wow, this cake looks sinfully delicious! So kind of you to share your grandmother's recipe with us. I will definitely be trying it, soon, and will treasure it always! So glad that it made you laugh, too, that really made my day!

  22. I promise you that I will make this cake very soon and think about your generosity when I do.

  23. Oh, no. I'm really glad you laughed - even for just a moment. Thank you so much for sharing such a special recipe. It is going in my box immediately.

  24. I got rid of the cable on the tv. - saving money. I don't watch tv. Then I decided I might just turn it on to see if the weather channel comes up. Nothing. Blamed the cable company. Checked the fuses. Checked the plugs and outlets on the wall. Everything fine. The tv is only a few years old - a gift from hubby's son. Tonight I was taking things (to give away) into the tv room. Happened to flick on the "wall switch" - guess what? The tv came on. I have more stories - just to let you know, we are in the same boat. And it feels weird!


Wow. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I love feedback... what with being a cook and all. I will respond to your comments via email (if you do not have a "noreply" address or here, below your comment) As always, Bon Appetite!

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