Last week my colleague Dianne Towalski, graphic designer and multimedia reporter at The Visitor, reminisced about the chocolate cake that her mother, Vicky Williams, always baked for her birthday. Vicky shares that special recipe with our readers in honor of Mother’s Day this Sunday and recalls fond memories of her own dear mom.
“This chocolate cake recipe is from a small cookbook that came with a can of Hershey’s Cocoa decades ago,” Vicky said. “I don’t remember when I made it for the first time — it was so long ago. We are all chocolate fans, so my kids usually requested chocolate cake with chocolate frosting for birthdays.
“I enjoy baking and like the way the house smells when there’s something in the oven. It smells like home to me,” she continued. “My mom, Margie Arnold, was a great cook and also loved to bake. On Saturdays, when we were growing up, my sister Sandy and I would make two kinds of cookies for the week, while our mom baked coffeecake and cinnamon rolls. Her cinnamon rolls are the standard by which I judge all cinnamon rolls. She also made a great peach cobbler.
“Mom passed away last year,” Vicky said. “She was a lovely woman and we all still miss her so much.”
Happy Mother’s Day to Dianne, Vicky and all mothers everywhere!
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 cups buttermilk or sour milk*
1/3 cup cocoa
1/3 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1-2 tbsp. milk
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 13x9x2-inch pan or three round 8-inch layer pans.
Cream butter and sugar in large mixer bowl. Add eggs and vanilla; blend well. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; add alternately with buttermilk to the creamed mixture.
Pour into greased and floured pan/s. Bake at 350°F for 55 to 60 minutes for a rectangular cake (or 30 to 35 minutes for layers) or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Frost when cake is cool. (If making a layer cake, cool in pans for 10 minutes then remove cake from pans to cool completely.)
For the frosting: Mix the cocoa and butter together, add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Add the milk, a little at a time, until it’s the right consistency.
*To sour milk: Use 2 tbsp. vinegar plus milk to equal 2 cups.
A note from Vicky
I always use butter when baking this cake — it just tastes better. (If you’re going to indulge, you might as well do it right.) I always use all-purpose flour even though the original recipe called for unsifted cake flour. I’ve soured the milk occasionally, but I usually buy buttermilk. It’s good either way. I believe in doing things the easy way, so I usually bake it in a 9×13-inch pan. (Of course, it looks more spectacular as a three-layer cake, so if you want to impress people, that’s the way to go.)