Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Grandma Merrow's Chocolate Cake

The reason for starting this blog was simple enough: to have fun. Maybe I would amuse someone. Perhaps I would figure out how to use my camera. Surely I would eat a lot. And possibly I might finally organize the mountain of recipes that I have collected over the years.

Well, the massive stack of recipes is still here, but one thing is for certain, I have been having fun. I didn't know quite how this project would turn out, but it's turned out well so far, I think, and along the way I've had a nice sprinkling of surprises. Comments from friends who say they have been inspired to try a new food, cook a meal from scratch for the first time, or simply get back in the kitchen again. Requests for recipes not yet posted. Questions about something I made or wrote. Seeing someone new stop by, joining the little community of readers that has developed here.

One of the nicest surprises came recently from Kate, of Hiccups & Fairy Dust, a blog I've been reading for some time now. She's a great writer who incorporates really fun ideas into her blog, like photo challenges and "Snippets". (No, I won't tell you what snippets are, you must go discover them for yourself). She also happens to work magic with a needle and thread. Read this, then check out her store on Etsy. Why didn't I pay attention in home ec? Or to my grandma? Or to my mom? Because if I would have, I might have been able to make something like what arrived one day, out of the blue, in my mailbox:
Cutest Apron Ever
Do you believe I cook in a dress?

It's quite possibly the cutest apron ever. Kate is a genius. 

But that wasn't all. She also sent her grandmother's recipe for chocolate cake, a recipe she made mention of a few posts ago. I said I wished I had it, and ta-da. Oh my heavens.

If I can say one thing about this cake, it's that it's lucky that it got baked at all, because this recipes produces, without a doubt, the best tasting batter I have ever licked off of a spoon (who's kidding who here, I was licking the bowl, the beaters, the spoon....).  Grandma Merrow knew her cakes; thank you for sharing, Kate.

Grandma Merrow's Chocolate Cake

The original recipe calls for baking this in a 9 x 13" pan. For the moment I am still hooked on layers, so I baked this in two 9-inch round cake pans, both buttered and with a round of wax paper on the bottom, but I see myself craving this cake a lot and baking it altogether in one large sheet pan will make it oh so easier to get this into my belly.

The recipe was also sent without a frosting recipe. Apparently, it changed often, depending on the occasion the cake was baked for. I used a basic cream cheese frosting, but it was agreed that it didn't complement the cake well (don't get me wrong, it was still delicious), therefore I haven't included a frosting recipe. I might opt for a lighter chocolate frosting next time. If I have to - (dramatic sigh) - I will bake a lot of cakes until I find the right frosting. 

It also seems appropriate to mention that this would make an excellent birthday cake, as today is my oldest brother's birthday, or at least, it's still his birthday in my time zone, and I think that still counts. He claims to read my blog, so this will be the true test, to see if he reads all the way down here. Happy Birthday Dan!

Cake Ingredients (finally!):
1 egg 
1/2 cup cocoa
1-1/2 cup flour (I used cake flour, but I almost used all-purpose, because I imagine that's what Grandma Merrow would have used)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk, or whole milk
1/2 cup hot coffee

1) Mix ingredients together in one bowl (*after baking so many cakes lately that call for specific steps in adding ingredients, and warnings of what happens when you fail to, I was almost hesitant to do this, but again, I went with what I thought Grandma Merrow would do, and you know, it all worked out just fine).

2) Pour batter into prepared pan(s). Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 - 35 minutes, depending on the size of pan you are using. I advise to check at the earlier time and go from there. The cake is done  when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

3) Remove cake from layer pans and cool on wire rack, or cool in 9 x 13" dish. Assemble/frost when cake has cooled completely.


  1. I wish David liked cake more. I need to make up an occasion to make this! :)

  2. You did it! Oh yippeee! And did my handsome actor-cousin and his bride-to-be enjoy some too! You look lovely in the apron! If I had dresses, I would cook in them too. I think that's really the only way. My sewing machine will be out full time in a few days as the Halloween costume orders have been placed and the fabric has all arrived. I'm starting with a newborn baby carrot. Too cute. I'm so glad you enjoyed Grandma's cake.

  3. The cake was delicious! I definitely enjoyed EVERY bite!!! I declare that the frosting was awesome (Complimentary or not, it was great). I missed out on the batter, but I'm pretty sure if I ever get super depressed and want to eat a whole bowl of batter, I'll turn to Grandma Merrow's cake first! This will be one of the cakes at Ryan's and my Los Angeles Wedding Reception as one of our wedding cakes! We want to honor Grandma Merrow as well as have some things made by LisasCocina herself. I hope all who come will try some!

  4. Jeni - David doesn't like cake?!

    Kate - I think there would've been trouble if I had made cake, let alone Grandma Merrow's cake, and not shared. We all enjoyed eating it!
    I hope you post pictures of costumes you make, I'm very excited to see them, especially the newborn baby carrot!!

    Jennica - this weekend. more cake. it's gonna be gooooood.

  5. Yah, I can't believe I went through with the marriage, but he's cute, so you know... :) His mom isn't a big cake either (their LEAST favorite is CHOCOLATE!!!!!!! GASP!!!!!!) I'm trying to woo them to the "dark" side, though! :) David does like red velvet (hence, what our wedding cake was...) but other than that, not too crazy about it. Me, on the other hand, could eat cake ANYTIME! :)

  6. Ok, that should read, "his mom isn't a big cake EATER either." And just incase you're wondering, she's not a cake at all! :) :) :)

  7. The apron is adorable and that was so sweet! :) The cake looks delicious and I think it awesome that you cook in a dress! ha
    It's 7:30 in the morning and all I want is that piece of cake! Mmmmm!

  8. so cute! such a pioneer woman in that dress of yours, love it ;) licking spoons is practically like saving water, you're doing a good thing for everyone!