Chocolate Lead Cake (Grandma Thelma's)

"I have been raised calling this "Lead cake", my uncle always lovingly called my grandma's chocolate cake Lead, because it is a heavy, dense, moist cake. Although I love all chocolate cakes, there is something about this one that makes it my favorite, maybe it's the memories attached to it, but it tastes great too! It was suggested to me by a friend that made it that it wasn't sweet enough for her (although I think that's part of what I like about it) but if you like a sweeter cake you might want to go ahead & do the 2 C of sugar, she used the lesser amount. Grandma sometimes put a fudge frosting on it that I didn't really like (the cake itself was my favorite part), often times, she made it with-out frosting which was my favorite way. It has a shiny top to it, & I myself like to dampen a piece of crocheted lace and lay it flat on top once cooled (right before serving) and sprinkle with a sifter, powdered sugar on it, then carefully removed the doily leaving only the beautiful white pattern on top. The other "topping" I like is whipped topping with chocolate syrup added, it is nice & light with the dense cake. I use a spatula to make pretty peaks as your design. However, if you use whipped topping the cake needs to be eaten and/or refrigerated soon, as the topping will make the cake soggy. I will be trying to add pictures of this cake decorated both ways soon, so check back to see them. Any other light creamy frosting of your choice would be good as well, or if you're like me, you'll just eat it plain & call it good lol. I searched as well as I could to try to not duplicate, & while a few recipes are similar, none (that I found) have these ingredients, made in this way, & I personally have never tasted another chocolate cake like this one. I hope you enjoy!"
photo by a user photo by a user
Ready In:


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 34 - 2 cups sugar (your choice, this is what my original recipe says)
  • 4 tablespoons baking cocoa (heaped)
  • 14 teaspoon salt (or less)
  • 1 cup cold water (you may add leftover brewed coffee to this amount, not to total more than 1 C water & coffee combine)
  • 12 cup vegetable oil (your choice)
  • 12 cup butter
  • 12 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda


  • Preheat oven to 400.
  • Grease & flour 13" x 9 1/2" cake pan (or 2 round) I'm sure you could make cupcakes too & I intend to try it in my bundt pan as well to see how that works.
  • Sift together dry ingredients.
  • Bring water/coffee, oil, butter to a boil.
  • Pour boiled mixture over dry ingredients & stir.
  • In a separate bowl, mix buttermilk, eggs, & soda.
  • Add to other mixture.
  • Add completed mixture to pans.
  • Grandma always thumped the pan on the counter to remove the air bubbles (probably why it is dense).
  • Bake at 400 for 18 minutes, test with toothpick, will be moist, DON"T OVERCOOK.
  • Decorate/top to your choice (try the doily and powdered sugar, it's fun)!

Questions & Replies

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  1. Onambarwen
    Great recipe - it was moist and delicious. If I'd had buttermilk on hand instead of having to substitute, it would have been absolutely no fuss as well. So, easy as well as delicious.<br/><br/>Instead of coffee I used Bengal Spice herbal tea from Celestial Seasonings. I sprinkled some powdered sugar over it and took it to a church luncheon. It sort of got passed over in favor of a flashier (frosted) cake, but the cleanup crew scarfed over half of my cake while it was sitting in the kitchen afterwards. I ended up with barely enough leftover to share with my parents that evening.<br/><br/>A very well-received cake, and definitely one I would make again.
  2. bellacrab
    This is the best and easiest cake reciepe I have ever made. I just serve it with the powered sugar on top and my family loves it. Thanks to your grandma and to you for posting this wonderful reciepe. Nothing needs to change because why change perfection!!!!!


**Please if you find my recipe through another site and try it, please return here and give it a rating, please!! :o) I love cooking, and have for as long as I can remember, (of course it goes with-out saying that I also love to eat). I guess I come by it honestly, as the majority of cooking I learned from Grandma, & my Dad (who learned from her). My Dear Grandma just passed away this past week (7/16/08), I have a few of her recipes posted on here, I hope people are inspired to try her Lead Cake & Cranberry Salad in her honor. I wish I had more of her recipes to share here, but those were my 2 favorites, which is why I made sure I had at least as those 2 recipes years ago. I was just recently showing my 13 yo son the first recipes that I ever created and wrote down, my first when I was approx. 8. My son loves to cook as well, so he also created a profile on here as well, (fawndog, don't ask me what it's supposed to mean lol) and has had fun posting recipes, particularly from an authentic civil war cookbook that we have. I am more of a "dump cook" rarely measuring, so I have had to start paying more attention to amounts and steps in case I create something I want to post on here. My family calls me the "Condiment Queen" since my refrigerator is mostly full of condiments, I would actually be embarrassed if I counted how many bottles & jars I have, & actually admitted it! Is there such a thing as condiment addiction? I wonder. Anyway, I love to use my variety of condiments when I cook, which I sometimes find difficult when sharing recipes on here, because many of the things I use are obscure, gourmet, & hard to find, because of this, some of my best recipes I don't feel I can even put on here. My recipes range from complicated, unusual ingredients, to pleasantly understated & simple, (kind of like me when I think about it) & could even be said to be closer to ideas, then even recipes lol. I love to make jelly, I have recently discovered that I Can bake, and have always appreciated spices, it took me a lot of years to realize more isn't Always better lol, (although my spice cabinet is also an entire kitchen cupboard so maybe I haven't learned that). I have probably created thousands of recipes as I have cooked over the years, but have not formally documented them, until now. The only time I follow a recipe exactly with-out messing around with it, is on here, so I can give fair reviews, if I do change things I try to be specific about what I changed. I hope you enjoy my recipes, if you have any requests, I have a fairly large collection of cookbooks from all over the country as I have inherited family member's cookbooks who traveled a lot. (Although, with the internet, you can find most anything now-a-days anyway). I find that I am really enjoying "Zaar", what a great community of people, it's fun to share recipes, see what ideas people come up with when adapting to suit their tastes, and of course getting reviews makes it even more fun. Although my pet peeve on here is when people give a lower rating when they seem to like the recipe with no explanation of why, OR change something in the recipe and then give it a low rating, duh! Please if you run across my recipes and try them, but aren't a member, please come back and sign-up real quick and leave me a review! :o) Please visit my web-site to find out more about me & what I "do" lol. <img src="">
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