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World Food Adventures

Passport & Plate - Mom's Chocolate Birthday Cake

USA | Thursday, 13 March 2014 | 5 photos


Ingredients
? c. shortening
? c. sugar
3 eggs
? c. cocoa powder
1 1/3 c. cold water
1 t vanilla
? t baking powder
1 ¼ t baking soda
1 t salt
2 c. all purpose flour

 

How to prepare this recipe
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9” round cake pans.
In a medium sized bowl, cream together shortening and sugar. Beat in eggs to this mixture one at a time. In a separate bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, cold water and vanilla. Add to shortening mixture. In another bowl, sift together baking powder, baking soda, salt and flour. Mix all ingredients together, alternating wet and dry ingredients.
Pour batter into prepared cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the middle of the cakes to check doneness. Take out of the oven and place on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Flip cakes onto cooling rack to cool completely. Frost layer cake with chocolate frosting of your choice and serve.

 

The story behind this recipe
The birthday cake my mother made every year for our birthdays is deep-rooted in my childhood memories. This dark chocolate cake was at every party, except the one where I decided pink cake was a better trend or the birthday where Funfetti won my approval. My mother’s memories are also tied to this cake- it was the cake her mother baked every year for her and her five siblings’ birthdays, too.

My friends knew this cake made an appearance every year and looked forward to it. I even had a lifetime friend who was over the moon when I made it for her birthday in college. It wasn’t a complete birthday without this rich, layered, quintessential treat.

The original recipe is falling apart and splattered with chocolate batter, but Mom doesn’t need it. She’s had it memorized for years. Each year I make this cake I see her hands busily working away at each step. Powdered in sifted flour through the whole process, she finishes her masterpiece, frosting the cake with finesse. My memories encompass the whole experience - the process of mixing wet and dry ingredients, licking the beaters clean of the bitter chocolate mixture, watching the candles drip onto the chocolate frosting, and eating it for breakfast the next day.

Like many others, my love of food started in the home. I don’t have many recipes that I recall from my entire childhood because we spent the majority of the time trying new recipes and getting excited about exotic cuisine. Being open to new foods, cultures and experiences was always encouraged in my household. This cake is a pillar of tradition and will be passed to my children. I travel the world but tradition will always bring me back to where I came from. Back to happy memories, back to good food and most importantly, back to family.

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