French Chocolate Cake for Historic Recipe Buffs

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Total Time
1hr 5mins
Prep
45 mins
Cook
20 mins

We found this recipe torn from an old Sunday insert called "The American Weekly," dated August 31, 1952. (Online, I learned that this Sunday newspaper supplement was published by Hearst from 1896 to 1963, when it became "Pictorial Living" until its demise in 1966). The 5"x6" scrap had somehow gotten stuffed in between the floor joists of our attic. Our house was built in 1951 and we are the 4th owners, so the recipe may have been lost by any of the previous occupants. Beneath the recipe is partial information for ordering something that ends with, "[.]arty Cakes Fancy-Plain." The address is incomplete, but the recipe (or collection) cost 5 cents each. On the reverse of the recipe is an ad for the "new" James Cagney movie, "What Price Glory." On the same side as the recipe are 2 little notations, perhaps upcoming features, the first about Norman Rockwell (including "the story of the two old cronies and the mongrel dog who posed for" his four newest paintings); the second is headlined, "When Love Needs a Doctor," and advertises "Sound advice from an eminent psychiatrist that should bring comfort and hope to thousands of husbands and wives who are confused by the marriage relationship." The answer, of course, is to feed each other chocolate cake ;) This recipe doesn't seem much different from modern recipes, except that it calls for pastry flour "sifted 4 times" with salt. In the 1970s, my Home Ec teachers taught that flour no longer needs to be sifted because it is treated to make it flow more readlily and be less susceptible for forming lumps. Current cooking shows do sometimes recommend sifting certain ingredients together to distribute them evenly, so it's probably a good idea to sift the flour and salt at least once. Bon apetit!

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Ingredients

Nutrition

Directions

  1. For CAKE: Dissolve cocoa in boiling water and cool.
  2. Cream butter and sugar.
  3. Add cocoa mixture, vanilla, and soda mixed with sour cream.
  4. Fold in the flour and salt, which have been sifted 4 times, alternately with the stiffly beaten egg whites.
  5. Bake in 3 greased and floured 8" layer pans in preheated 350F degree oven for 20 minutes or until done.
  6. Cool before removing from tins.
  7. Spread chocolate icing between layers and over cake.
  8. For ICING: Boil brown sugar, water, and butter for 10 minutes.
  9. Add chocolate.
  10. When melted, remove from heat.
  11. Add confectioners' sugar, salt, and vanilla.
  12. Beat until smooth.