Mocha Layer Cake (Sour Cream Cake with Mocha Filling)

The early 1900’s were the heyday of decadent layer cakes with wonderful fillings, so when I recently needed to make a birthday cake, I immediately knew that I wanted to make a hundred-year-old cake recipe. Then I had the hard (but fun) job of deciding which old recipe to make. Should I make a white cake with a rich caramel filling?  . . .or a chocolate cake with a whipped cream filling?  . . .  or a white cake with a chocolate filling?  . . . or a cake with a fruit filling? , . . or . . . ?

I finally selected a delightful recipe for Mocha Layer Cake. This really is a recipe for a Sour Cream Cake with a delightful Mocha Filling; and, as I interpreted it, a White Frosting to top everything off.

The Sour Cream Cake not as airy as many modern cakes, but it had a wonderful flavor and consistency, and was tender and rich. The hints of coffee and chocolate in the Mocha Filling were nuanced and mild  in the assembled cake.

Here’s the original recipes:

Source: Tried and True Cook Book Published by the The Willing Workers, The Minneapolis [MN] Incarnation Parish (1910)
Source: The Housewife’s Cook Book by Lilla Frich (1917)

And, here are the recipes updated for modern cooks:

Mocha Layer Cake (Sour Cream Cake with Mocha Filling

  • Servings: 8 - 10
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Sour Cream Cake

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 cup sour cream

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans; line with waxed paper or parchment paper, then grease again and lightly flour. Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl; beat until thoroughly combined. Pour the batter into the cake pans, dividing evenly between the two pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes. Remove from pans. Cool 1 hour or until completely cooled.

Mocha Filling

1 cup confectioners sugar

2 tablespoons strong coffee

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons cocoa

1 teaspoon melted butter

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl.; beat until smooth.

White Frosting

3 cups confectioners sugar

2 teaspoons melted butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2+ tablespoons cream

Combine all ingredients; Beat until frosting is smooth and of spreading consistency. Slowly add more cream if too thick. (I used a total of about 4 tablespoons of cream.)

To assemble cake:

Put one cake layer upside down (so that the top surface is flat) on serving plate; spread with the Mocha Filling. Top with the second cake layer, right side up. Ice cake with white frosting.

Old-fashioned Sunshine Cake with Orange Frosting

Sunshine cake slice

Visiting with old friends is always special.  For the last 15 or 20 years, my husband and I get together a couple times a year with my daughter’s former girl scout leader and her husband to play pinochle. There are shared memories, family updates, and just plain good times.

It recently was my turn to host the gathering, and I wanted to make a special dessert –  but something not too heavy.  And, of course, my other criteria was that it had to be made using a hundred-year-old recipe. When browsing through an old cookbook, I came across a recipe for a citrus sponge cake called Sunshine Cake that peaked my interest, so I decided to give it a try.

The cake turned out wonderfully and did not disappoint. It was light, tender, and tasted divine. The recipe calls for both orange juice and lemon juice so it has a nicely balanced citrus flavor. The cake requires beating egg whites until stiff peaks form but it is worth the effort.

The trick to getting a really light cake is to cool it upside down. The cake can be inverted on a cooling rack when it is removed from the oven. In the old days, cakes often were inverted on an empty glass 1-quart soda-pop bottle to cool.

Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Sunshine Cake with Orange Frosting

  • Servings: 8 - 10
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Cake

6 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup flour

5 egg yolks

1 1/2 tablespoons orange juice

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350° F.  In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form; then add the cream of tartar and salt while continuing to beat until there are stiff peaks.

In a separate bowl combine the sugar, flour, egg yolks, orange juice, and lemon juice. Beat until combined, then gently fold the whipped egg whites into the mixture.

Gently spoon the batter into an ungreased angel food cake  pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the cake is lightly browned and the top springs back when lightly touched.

Invert pan until cool (at least 1 hour). Remove cake from pan and place on serving plate, then drizzle with a thin orange frosting (glaze).

Orange Frosting (Glaze)

2 cups  powdered sugar

approximately 2 tablespoons orange juice

2 tablespoons grated orange rind

Combine powdered sugar and orange juice in a mixing bowl; beat until smooth. If the mixture to too thick add additional orange juice; then stir in the grated orange rind.

Note: The frosting should be quite thin (and more of a glaze) when used on this cake. A thicker version of it would be lovely on heavier cakes.

Here are the original recipes:

sunshine cake recipe
Source: Lowney’s Cook Book (1912)

 

orange frosting (1)
Source: Tried and True Cook Book, compiled and published by the Willing Workers of the Minneapolis Incarnation Parish (1910)

Old-Fashioned Spice Cake Recipe

Spice Cake

Can a dessert be a comfort food? If so, Spice Cake is one of my favorite comfort foods.

I found a Spice Cake recipe in a hundred-year-old cookbook, and just had to give it a try. It was perfect, and brought back memories of luscious Spice Cakes at long-forgotten family reunions and church pot lucks.

This easy-to-make cake has a perfect spicy blend of  cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Brown sugar is the only sugar used in this recipe, which gives this cake a lovely caramel note.

If I had one complaint about this recipe, it’s that it did not make quite enough batter to use my “go-to” 9-inch X 13-inch oblong cake pan. Instead I used a 9-inch square pan, and that worked well. Hmm. . . now that I think about it, perhaps the smaller cake  is an advantage rather than a negative.  It was just the right size for my husband and me.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Old-Fashioned Spice Cake

  • Servings: 8 - 10
  • Difficulty: easy
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1/2 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup raisin or chopped dates (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°  F. Grease and flour a 9-inch square baking pan. Combine all ingredients (except for the raisins or dates) into a large mixing bowl. Blend until well blended. If desired, stir in the raisins or dates. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Frost if desired. Good with a maple-flavored frosting.

And, here’s the original hundred-year-old recipe:

Spice Cake Recipe b
Source: Lowney’s Cook Book (1912)

Apple Upside-down Skillet Cake

19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Saturday, September 12, 1914:  Made a cake today. It looked like having been made by a green-horn.

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Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Hmm. . . what kind of cake did Grandma make? It’s getting to be apple season—maybe Grandma made an Apple Upside-down Skillet Cake. It can be a little tricky to successfully get it out of the pan in one piece—so if care is not used it can end up looking like it was made by a “green-horn.”

Apple Upside-down Skillet Cake

1 2/3 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

2/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup shortening

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

2 cups sliced apples

In a mixing bowl combine flour, salt, baking powder, 2/3 cup sugar, shortening, eggs, vanilla, and milk. Beat until there is a smooth batter. Set aside.

Stir 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a small bowl. Add water and butter, and then pour into a 10-inch skillet with an oven-proof handle. Cook on the stove top using medium heat. Stir constantly until sauce boils and becomes clear. Turn off heat. Add the apple slices, and spread evenly in the skillet.

Pour the batter into skillet over the apple slices.

Bake in oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the center of cake is springy when lightly pressed with finger tips. Cool in skillet for about ten minutes; then turn out onto a serving plate.

Hundred-Year-Old Devil’s Food Cake Recipe

19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, August 3, 1914:   We had chocolate ice cream and devil’s food cake for supper. The ice cream was the remains of yesterday. The cake also.

Devil's Food Cake (Hundred-Year-Old Recipe)
Devil’s Food Cake (Hundred-Year-Old Recipe)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

I’m going to repost part of a post that I originally posted on February 27, 2012 (1912) because it seems so appropriate for this diary entry:

Comparison of Hundred-year-old and Modern Recipes for Devil’s Food Cake

I recently bought a 1912 cookbook off eBay. My daughter glanced through it and noticed that the devil’s food cake recipe seemed very different from today’s recipes.

So we decided to compare a devil’s food cake made with a modern recipe with one made using a hundred year old recipe.

In the early 1900s angel food cakes and devils food cakes were seen as the polar opposites—one was white and light; the other dark and heavy.

The cake made with the hundred year old recipe was a dense chocolate spice cake. The recipe called for mashed potatoes (mashed potatoes ?!?!), cinnamon, nutmeg and nuts. It reminded us of gingerbread–though ginger was not an ingredient. I’ve never eaten anything exactly like it—but the cake was very good and I’d make it again.

100 Year-Old-Recipe

Calumet Devil’s Food Cake (Chocolate Spice Cake)

2 cups flour

2 level teaspoons Calumet (or any other brand) baking powder

2 level teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup milk

3/4 cup butter

2 eggs

1 cup warm mashed potatoes

2 squares unsweetened chocolate

1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour baking pan, 13 X 9 X 2 inches. Melt butter and chocolate. Combine with all of the other ingredients except nuts. Beat until well-blended. Stir in nuts.

Pour into pan. Bake approximately 45-50 minutes or until pick comes out clean.

Adapted from the recipe in Calumet Baking Powder Reliable Recipes (1912)

The modern devil’s food cake recipe that my daughter made was from my Betty Crocker Cookbook. The recipe called for red food coloring—but otherwise seemed similar to other modern chocolate cake recipes. The cake was awesome.

Modern Recipe

Devil’s Food Cake

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)

1 1/2 teaspoons soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup shortening

2 eggs

2 ounces melted unsweetened chocolate (cool)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon red food color

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour baking pan, 13x9x2 inches, or two 9-inch or three 8-inch round layer pans. Measure all ingredients into large mixer bowl. Blend 1/2 minute on low-speed, scraping bowl constantly. Beat 3 minutes high-speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into pan(s).

Bake oblong about 40 minutes, layers 30-35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool.

(Recipe suggests using chocolate or cream cheese frosting.)

Devil's Food Cake (Modern Recipe)
Devil’s Food Cake (Modern Recipe)

Blueberry Buckle (Blueberry Coffee Cake) Recipe

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, July 24, 1912: That’s all. Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

This entry makes me think of the Bugs Bunny cartoon line–That’s All Folks.

Maybe I should just call it a day–but I keep thinking that something must have happened a hundred years ago today.

Blueberries are ripe, so maybe Grandma made a Blueberry Buckle. It’s an old-fashioned cake that I’ve only ever seen in Pennsylvania.  A buckle is an archaic word for a one-layer cake.

I make this recipe once or twice each summer. The smaller, tarter blueberries that we get towards the end of blueberry season are perfect for this recipe.

Blueberry Buckle (Blueberry Coffee Cake)

Cake

1/4 cup soft butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

2 cups washed fresh blueberries

Crumb topping

1/4 cup soft butter

1/2 sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Cream butter, add sugar and beat until light. Add egg and beat well. Gradually dry ingredients, alternating with milk. Beat until smooth.* Gently fold in blueberries. Pour into 8 X 8 X 2 inch pan.

Mix all of the topping ingredients to create a crumb-like mixture. Sprinkle over the batter. Bake about 45 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched.

*The batter is very thick. May need to stir by hand after dry ingredients have all been added.