Sure, we might think of the people who lived more than a century ago as faded faces in black-and-white photographs, with quiet, quaint lives. But when it came to chocolate? Those baking ladies knew what was up!
The chocolate available in 1911, when these recipes were created, was rich and delicious, and not nearly as processed as most of the chocolate we eat today — it had few fillers, no hard-to-pronounce chemicals, and typically used real cane sugar for sweetness.
Here are 18 old-fashioned and deliciously classic chocolate cake recipes to inspire your baking adventures in this century!
1. Cream chocolate cake
For the first part, take one cup of sugar, half a cup of butter, two-thirds cup of sweet milk, two cups of flour, three eggs beaten separately and whites folded in last of all, and one teaspoonful of baking powder. Second part: One cup of grated Baker’s chocolate, two-thirds cup of sugar, half a cup of sweet milk, and the yolk of one egg, well beaten. Put the second part over the heat in a double boiler and let come to a boil, stirring all the time. Let stand until cold; then stir in a level teaspoonful of soda dissolved in a little hot water, and mix this part well with the first part, now adding the beaten whites of egg. This may be baked either as a layer cake or in loaf form.
For frosting: Boil up one cup of sugar and half a cup of water until it ropes, and turn this over a well-beaten egg white, beating all the time until it is cold. A teaspoonful of thick, sweet cream added, and flavoring desired, are nice and improving. One cannot fail with it except by getting too much flour, in which case it is not so soft and delicate. If less chocolate is liked, reduce the amount. – The Commoner (Lincoln, Neb.) – December 01, 1911
2. Colorado chocolate cake
Take 2 cups of granulated sugar, 1/2 cup of butter, 1 cup of milk, 3 level cups of flour, 5 eggs beaten together, 3 squares of chocolate, 2 teaspoonfuls of cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoonful cloves, 1 teaspoonful vanilla, 2 teaspoonfuls of baking powder, 1/2 nutmeg. Mix in 1/2 cup of walnuts and bake in two thick layers. Add 1 cup of nuts to a cream filling. Half of this recipe makes one common-sized cake.
A nice icing: Boil 1 cup of sugar in y cup of water, four minutes. Beat until cool, and spread on cake quickly. Then spread over that butter and chocolate melted together. – Sarah Winger Merrill, The Dalles, Ore.
3. Chocolate cake
Take 1-1/2 cups of granulated sugar, 1/2 cup of butter, 1/2 cup of milk, 4 eggs, 1 teaspoonful of baking powder, 1 teaspoonful of vanilla and 1 square of chocolate. Dissolve chocolate in a tablespoonful of hot water and add to cake. Bake in layers and put together with icing. – Lora Roop, Warrensburg, Mo.
4. Eggless chocolate cake
Mix 1 cup of sugar with 1 tablespoonful of butter or lard. Add 1/2 cup of milk or water, and one teaspoonful of soda dissolved in hot water. Then in a small pan mix 2 heaping tablespoonfuls of ground or grated chocolate, 1 level teaspoonful of cornstarch and 1/2 cup of milk or water, and cook until it thickens. Add this to the first mixture while hot. Flavor with 1/2 teaspoonful of vanilla and sift in 1-1/2 cups of flour with 1 teaspoonful of baking powder.
Caramel Frosting: 1 cup of sugar and 5 tablespoonfuls of milk. Boil until when a little is dropped in cold water it will form a soft ball. Take from the fire, flavor with a few drops of vanilla and beat until the mixture begins to thicken. Spread quickly between layers and on top. – Edith Riley, Highland, Ohio
5. Eggless devil’s food cake
Take 2 cups of dark brown sugar, 1/2 cup of butter, 1/2 cup of hot water, 1/2 cup of sour milk, 6 teaspoonfuls of cocoa, 1 teaspoonful of soda and flour to thicken. Bake in a square pan. – Nannie Byer Newcomer, South Bend, Ind.
6. Chocolate cake
Take 1/2 cup of grated chocolate, 1/2 cup of sweet milk, 1/2 cup of brown sugar. Cook until smooth and when cool mix with the following: 1 cup of white sugar, 1/2 cup of butter, 1/2 cup of milk, 2 eggs, 2 cups of flour, and 1 teaspoonful of soda dissolved in warm water. Put the flour in last. – Edna Eisenbise, Lanark, III.
7. Chocolate cream cake
Cream 2 cups of sugar with 1/4 of a cup of butter (lard may be used instead of butter). Add the yolks of 3 eggs, 1 cup of milk, 3 cups of flour, and 2 teaspoonfuls of baking powder. Beat well and fold in the beaten whites of 3 eggs. Flavor with vanilla.
Cream filling: Scald 1 pint of milk and stir into it 3 tablespoonfuls of cornstarch moistened in a small portion of the milk. Add 1/2 cup of sugar beaten light with the yolk of one egg, a pinch of salt and 1/2 teaspoonful of vanilla. Spread between the layers of cake. Ice the top with an icing made by boiling 1 cup of sugar with 2 teaspoonfuls of water until it strings. Pour this over the beaten white of the egg and add 1 square of melted chocolate. Flavor with vanilla. – Maud M Click, Fairfax, Va.
8. Chocolate cake or devil’s food
Take 2 cups of dark brown sugar, 2/3 cup of sour milk, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup of butter, 1/3 cup of chocolate, 1/2 cup of boiling water over the chocolate, 1 teaspoonful of soda, 1 tablespoonful of vanilla and flour to make a rather stiff batter. Bake in layers in a slow oven. Spread chocolate icing between layers. – D. W. Inman, Bradford, Ohio.
9. Chocolate layer cake
Take 2 eggs, 1/2 cup of butter, 1 cup of sweet milk, 1-1/2 cups of sugar, 2 teaspoonfuls of baking powder and 3 cups of flour.
Filling: Take 1/2 cup of sweet milk, 1 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoonful of butter, 1 tablespoonful of chocolate and ^2 teaspoonfuls of vanilla. Boil until it threads. – Jennie Neher, Mountain Grove, Mo.
10. One-egg chocolate cake
Take the yolk of one egg, 1/2 cup of milk, and 1/2 cup of either grated chocolate or cocoa. Beat well and put on the stove to cook slowly until a little thick. Then take off and add 1/2 cup of milk, 1 cup of sugar, 3 teaspoonfuls of baking powder and 1-3/4 cups of flour, sifted twice. Bake in two layers.
For filling and frosting: White of the egg beaten light, and on it pour the syrup made of one cup of sugar and a little water boiled until it threads. – Verna Cooney, Enders, Nebraska
11. Layer chocolate cake
Take 1-1/2 cups of sugar, 1/2 cup of butter, 1 cup of milk, 3 eggs, whites and yolks beaten separately, 3 teaspoonfuls of baking powder mixed with 3 cups of flour, 1 teaspoonful of vanilla, and a little salt.
When done, ice with the following: Take the white of 1 egg beaten to a froth, 1 cup of powdered sugar, 1 tablespoonful of melted chocolate and 1 tablespoonful of cream. Flavor with vanilla. – Sarah A. Haines, Huntington, Ind.
12. Chocolate loaf cake
Take 1 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup of butter, 1/2 cup of sour milk, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoonful of soda, 1 teaspoonful of vanilla and 2 cups of flour. Mix all well together. Put in a pan 1/2 cup of grated chocolate, 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of sweet milk. Boil this and pour into the cake boiling hot. Mix well and bake slowly.
Icing: Take 2 cups of granulated sugar, 6 tablespoonfuls of boiling water, 2 tablespoonfuls of vinegar or lemon juice. Boil together 8 minutes and pour slowly over the well-beaten whites of 2 eggs. Beat until cool, and flavor to taste. – Sister Barbara Culley, Elgin, III.
13. Chocolate marble cake
Put 1 ounce of chocolate and 1 tablespoonful of butter into a cup, and place in a tin of boiling water. Beat to a cream 2 tablespoonfuls of butter and 1 cup of sugar. Beat in gradually 1/2 cup of milk; next add the whites of 6 eggs beaten stiff, 1 teaspoonful of vanilla, 1/2 cups of sifted flour and 1 teaspoonful of baking powder mixed with the flour. Put 1/2 of the batter into a bowl and stir into it the melted chocolate. Put one mixture into a pan, then the other. Bake about 40 minutes. – Sister Elmer Snowberger, Roaring Spring, Pa.
14. Chocolate nut cake
For the cake part, take 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1/2 cup of butter. Beat to cream, then put in 2 eggs, 1 at a time, 1/2 cup of sweet milk, 1-1/2 cups of flour, putting 1 teaspoonful of baking powder with the last 1/2 cup of flour. Bake in 2 layers.
For the filling: Take 1-1/2 cupfuls of sugar, 1 cupful of milk, 2 bars of grated chocolate, butter the size of a walnut; put in a granite pan and cook to the soft ball state, stirring occasionally, then remove from the fire and add 1 teaspoonful of vanilla. Take about 1/3 of this mixture and add 1 teacupful chopped nut meats, stir until cool enough to spread. Put this between the layers, and spread the remaining icing on top and sides of cake. Save some of the whole nut meats and arrange on top of cake. Use English walnuts or hickory nuts. Grease the pan that the icing is cooked in to prevent scorching.
This is excellent if the recipe is followed closely. – Pearl Jackson, South Bend, Ind.
15. Solid chocolate cake
Take 2 cups of brown sugar, 1/2 cup of butter, 1 cup of sour milk or black coffee, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoonful of soda dissolved in 1/2 cup of hot water, 1/3 cake of grated chocolate, and 2 heaping cups of flour. – Sister Lydia Jordon, Wiley, Ohio.
16. Chocolate coconut cake
1 cup butter, 2 cups flour, 2 cups brown sugar, 1 cup sour milk, 2 cups coconut, 1/2 cake of melted chocolate, 1 tsp. soda, 5 eggs, 1 tsp. vanilla. Beat butter to a cream, add sugar, dissolve soda in little sweet milk, add to sour milk, add to butter and sugar, add the beaten yolks of eggs, then chocolate grated. Put coconut into sifted flour, add beaten whites of eggs last. Use either chocolate or white icing on the cake. Fresh grated coconut is best, but if prepared cocoanut is used soak, it in milk for an hour.
Chocolate icing: Melt 2 sq. chocolate, add 1 cup sugar, 1 tbsp. flour, 1 cup sweet milk, yolks of 2 eggs, cook in double boiler until it thickens, stir in 1/2 cup of coconut, either freshly grated or the prepared which has been soaked in milk. Spread on the top of the cake and between the layers if a layer cake is made.
White icing: 2 cups sugar, 1/2 cup water, cream of tartar size of pea, whites of 3 eggs beaten to a stiff froth, add to the hot syrup. This amount will make enough for filling between the layers of the cake and for the top. If a loaf cake is made use only 1/2 recipe for the top of the cake.
17. Chocolate caramel cake recipe
Ingredients: One cup sugar, two eggs, one quarter cup butter, one half cup milk, one half cup chocolate, one cup flour (full), one teaspoon baking powder. Cream butter and sugar, add grated chocolate steamed, yolks of eggs well-beaten. Sift flour and baking powder, adding alternately flour and milk. Last put in whites of eggs beaten stiff. Bake in two layers about thirty minutes in a moderate oven.
Filling: One and a half cups light brown sugar, butter size of small egg, one half teaspoon vanilla, one half cup cream. Boil all together for fifteen minutes, take from fire and beat until cool, flavor with vanilla. Spread quickly on warm cake. This cake is better the second day.
18. Chocolate layer cake with cream filling
This recipe is not only quick to make and economical, but is very simple and easy to make, especially for beginners in cake making.
One and a half cups of sugar, one and a half cups of flour, two eggs, one glass milk, two teaspoons baking powder, one teaspoon vanilla extract, two and a half tablespoons ground chocolate, two tablespoons melted butter (put butter in last). Beat eggs and milk together: sift flour, sugar. chocolate and baking powder all together; stir in eggs and milk and beat for about five minutes; now stir in vanilla: lastly, stir in butter well; pour in layer cake pans and bake about 20 minutes.
Cream filling: 1-1/2 to 2 cups of powdered sugar, two tablespoons milk, one teaspoon butter. Roll powdered sugar out with rolling pin to free it from all lumps; put in bowl. Melt butter and milk together (do not boil); pour over powdered sugar and stir until smooth enough to spread on layers with a knife. A few drops of any kind of extract improves it. This filling also can be used as a frosting. – Mrs. Jay, 254 Carl Street, San Francisco