Top 100 Cake Blog

Top 100 Cake Blog

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Chocolate Cake You Should Make

Need a go-to chocolate cake?  I discovered a simple and delicious recipe in Ida Mae Van's 1935 cooking school notebook.

But this recipe, tucked in the back of the composition book, is not written in Ida's careful hand, but was given to her by someone urging her to try this chocolate cake.  I have no idea who Ms. Van was, but I know a good recipe when I see one, so I didn't need much urging, just a lunch date with my friend Jordana who loves chocolate almost as much as life itself.

This cake is super easy and quick. I started it at 11 a.m. and brought it to lunch at 1 p.m., cooled and frosted.  I used the Magnolia Bakery's vanilla buttercream frosting, available by searching Google.

This recipe isn't in Ida's handwriting, but was given to her by someone else, and placed in
her cooking school composition book.

The recipe calls for lard (I used butter) the size of an egg.

Don't worry if the batter looks speckled.  It will even out in the oven.

Jordana and her chocolate cake.


  1. why is julia louis-dreyfuss eating your cake??

  2. looks incredible -- and i don't even like chocolate cake! but...what is sour milk? is it sour cream? or buttermilk?

  3. Betty: Sour milk (which is not spoiled milk, but fresh milk to which some acid, like lemon juice has been added until it clabbers) can substitute for buttermilk and vice versa. I usually use buttermilk, unless I have none and DH isn't willing to go to the avenue bodega to buy me some : )

  4. Easy and delicious. I put a french buttercream on mine and that might have overpowered the cake, but this is a great recipe. Fwiw, I used drinkable plain yogurt since that's all they had at the Ronnybrook booth and I didn't want to go to the store for milk/buttermilk and think it worked just fine.

  5. Allison: So glad you made the cake! Interesting about the yogurt, and it would make sense that it would be a fine substitute as most commercial buttermilk today (and what I used in this cake) is a cultured dairy product as is yogurt. Another buttermilk substitute is to add a bit of lemon juice or vinegar to sweet milk and let it sit a moment until it clabbers.

  6. I don't know if you can see this comment; it's been five years since the original post.

    If so, let me tell you that, after adjusting the recipe for the high altitude, this chocolate cake tastes like a fine Swiss Chocolate bar--rich, not so sweet, delectable. Very highly recommended.

    1. Yes, I can see it, and thanks for the tip! Who knew that a cake could be improved by high altitude baking? Thanks much.