As a kid, my family moved across the road from an older couple. Miss Doris and Mr. Lewis loved to sit on their porch and watch us kids laugh and play outside. I have several brothers and sisters, so I am sure our antics were entertaining!
Miss Doris was a good ole country cook. She used no fancy ingredients, just pantry staples, and made a chocolate cake I still dream about today. Many times I sat in her tiny kitchen watching her mix up the ingredients for a chocolate cake she baked in 2 black iron skillets.
While the cakes were cooling, she proceeded to take sugar, cocoa, evaporated milk and butter, boiling it on the stove until it reached a soft ball stage. On a candy thermometer, that’s 234 degrees. But Miss Doris knew by sight when the wonderful icing was nearing ready. She’d drop a spoonful into a cup of cold water and dip out the soft ball of fudgy goodness for me and my little sister to share.
She would remove the icing from the heat and let it sit a few minutes as she placed the first layer on a plate. Then she would beat that frosting by hand until it thickened a bit and pour just enough on the first layer to cover the top. The second layer was placed & the process repeated.
That frosting was liquid fudge, and as it is spread, it would cool and cling to the side of the cake. She would keep adding warm gooey frosting until that cake was completely covered.
Now, the finished product probably wouldn’t win a beauty contest, but that kitchen smelled like chocolate heaven.
Sadly, when Miss Doris died…her recipe died with her. No one ever took the time to write it down. Now, before you despair, I have recreated that wonderful cake in honor of Miss Doris and you can find the recipe below.
I never think of Miss Doris without remembering her generosity toward my family. She used what she had to be a blessing to others. That is a wonderful legacy.
CHILDHOOD CHOCOLATE BUTTERMILK CAKE
2 c. sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
14 c. unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1 c. water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. unsalted butterMix water, butter, and cocoa in a saucepan and heat until butter is melted. Combine
flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in mixing bowl.
Add eggs and buttermilk, then the hot cocoa mixture. Combine with mixer until well incorporated.
Grease and flour two 8 or 9″ cake pans and preheat oven to 350°. Pour batter into
prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or until they test done. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.
Icing should not be made until cake is cooled. Lay first layer on plate with strips of wax paper under it before starting to make the frosting. This will keep the plate edge neat.
Boiled Chocolate Icing
1/2 c. butter
3/4 c. evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. cocoa powderMelt butter in a medium sized saucepan. Add sugar, cocoa, and evaporated milk. Stirring constantly over medium high heat, cook mixture.
When it reaches a rolling boil, cook for 3-5 minutes until it reaches 234° on a candy thermometer or a spoonful of mixture dropped into a cup of cold water forms a “soft ball.”
Remove from heat, add vanilla and beat for 1-2 minutes. Pour enough on the first layer to just cover it, then place the second layer on top. Pour the rest of the icing mixture on top and smooth icing quickly over the sides.
It should set up rather quickly, so work fast. Icing should form a slight grainy “crust,” but remain soft underneath. Remove wax paper strips. Store covered at room temp.
Note: Test your candy thermometer by placing in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes. Don’t let the tip touch the bottom of the pan. Water boils at 212 degrees, so whatever the thermometer registers in the boiling water IS 212 degrees. SO, if it registers say, 210, simply adjust your cooking time by 2 degrees lower than 234. (I hope that is not “clear as mud.” :-)