Tuesday, October 5, 2010

1929 Black Chocolate Cake

This is another cake recipe from my mother's old collection. The first one I shared was a sponge cake. I don't know who wrote out the original recipe. Perhaps this was my mother's 16-year-old handwriting, maybe it was my grammy's, or maybe it was Emily Cooper Norris herself who wrote it and gave it to my grandmother. I never met her. I presume she lived on a neighboring farm. My mother added 'vanilla,' and I added how much vanilla and the comment at the top.

1929 Black Chocolate Cake

1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup boiling water
Let cool after pouring hot water over

1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sour milk, mixed with 3/4 teaspoonful soda
1 egg

Pour boiling water over butter and cocoa
Add sugar and stir well
Add flour and milk alternately
Bake in moderate or slow oven

Emily Cooper Norris
Aug. 24, 1929

My notes:
To make the sour milk, I put lemon juice or white vinegar in the bottom of the measuring cup and fill it to 1/4 with regular milk.
I add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.
I mix it all in the KitchenAid mixer.
Bake in preheated 350ยบ F. oven about 30 minutes.
This makes a one-layer cake or 10 cupcakes.

Such a simple, yet delicious cake to make, and just the right size if you aren't baking for a big crowd. When it cools, I'll frost it with a buttercream frosting: confectioners' sugar, butter, vanilla, milk. This is the twelfth and last installment of Matt's birthday present. I can't believe almost a year has gone by. It has been such a hit, I may do the same next year.


  1. I had a chocolate attack this weekend. I baked a storebought yellow cake and made a chocolate icing to put on it. Yummmmm. I baked one half in a round pan and made cupcakes to share with friends with the other half of the mix. It is too much for two people ot eat. I will try this sometime.

  2. Nan, I love looking at the recipe with everyone's handwriting adding to it. Wonderful post.

  3. I have a confession, Lisa. I've never made a store-bought cake. And it was only a couple years ago that I found out there was such a thing as brownies from a box. :<) I swear, this cake is as easy as a mix could be (I think).

    Clair, I do too. I wish there was someone I could ask about 'Emily.' I'm so pleased you liked the post.

  4. Lisa, as my comment was flying out, I realized I had read your note wrong. You bought an actual cake. Duh. Sorry.

  5. LOVE THIS...These are ALWAYS the recipes I "SEEK" out, the ones that look like they were USED! I LOVE stains on them, it makes me picture the lady making her goodies! When I buy old cookbooks I ALWAYS look for this! How long did you bake the cupcakes for???
    Hugs for sharing,

  6. Oh Nan -- this post almost made me cry (with happiness and nostalgia!). I have a couple of cookbooks from my grandmothers and I love them == and their notes....
    (They are on a shelf at my daughter's now that we're traveling so much).....

    I'm not going to bake a cake like this any time soon (even when we get back to where we actually have an oven!) but I loved loved loved reading your post and looking at your grandmother's handwritten recipe. Thank you so much for posting this.

  7. Donna - Avon Musings....October 5, 2010 at 7:53:00 PM EDT

    Hi Nan: I love this posting. The cake itself looks quite tempting, and perhaps I shall have to make it one of these days. What I found more interesting however, is the recipe itself. I have a little black recipe book that once belonged to my Grandmother, and it is one of my most cherished possessions. I do sometimes make recipes from it, but the thing I love most about it is the beautiful handwritten recipes. The penmanship is wonderful, sometimes I just read the recipes to enjoy the writing, if that makes any sense. Thanks for posting this, I think in fact it might make for an interesting blog posting at Avon Musings.

  8. This sounds yummy! Thanks for sharing!

  9. I thought you were leaving us (the bloggers who love your blog) forever, Nan. What happened? I'm confused. But, since you're still here, I'm assuming you changed your mind. Did I miss a relevant post? ;)

  10. Looks easy and delicious...when I have a life again...after our sons wedding on Friday, I will be sure to try it out.


  11. That looks simply delicious and somewhere I have a cookbook that has my grandmother's handwriting all over it...now I feel the need to find it! I think recipes from the past written in our loved ones hand is a treasure!!

  12. My guess is that Matt's hoping for the same present, too. He's probably even wishing it might become a tradition!
    I cherish recipes in my collection that are handwritten by my mother, grandmother, aunts, or even my own 12 year old hand. Thanks for sharing a photo of yours.

  13. Donna, I feel the same way! I didn't make cupcakes this time. It was a single round layer pan. Baked about 30 minutes.

    Sallie, maybe when you get home you will post some recipes from those cookbooks? I'd love to see them.

    Donna, I love this, and hope you do a posting with pictures. I wish I had more.

    Sherri, Matt and Margaret loved it!

    Yvette, the return post is:


    Niki, have a wonderful wedding!!

    Staci, I hope you can find it, and that maybe you will write about it sometime, and even share recipes.

    JoAnn, I think so, too! I cherish mine as well, though sadly I have too few.

  14. i love chocolate! this looked great and i was so excited to use my sour milk and try a new recipe for my food blog. then, i ruined the recipe by adding everything at the wrong time and not in the right amounts.

    even though i was a dismal failure, i think your cake recipe was a success! i've posted your original recipe and linked to your site on my blog. please let me know if that's all right and thank you for the inspiration!

  15. nan, this looks great! i love that it uses sour milk. i baked it as a post on my blog and have posted your recipe as well as a link to your original page. let me know if that's all right.

    keep baking! :)

  16. Homemade Chocolatier, it is fine that you linked to the post, especially so that your readers can see that the recipe works great. I've always had success.
    I wonder about your use of real sour milk. I just put some lemon juice or vinegar in to 'sour' it. Maybe milk that is naturally sour just doesn't work.


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