Our family has been using this recipe since I first saw it in the Washington Post in the 70s, when I was a law student. The cake recipe was from the Post; the frosting recipe was from my mother, who ticked it off the top of her head without consulting a written word:
Chocolate Cake with Mocha Frosting
For the cake:
2 c cake flour
2 c sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
¾ c cold strong black coffee
1 c sour cream
½ c butter, room-temperature soft
1 tsp vanilla
4 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
- A couple of hours before you make this cake, take refrigerated ingredients out of the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature
- About half an hour before you begin, melt the unsweetened chocolate and let it cool.
- Line the bottoms of two round 9” by 1 ½” cake pans with wax paper. Butter paper.
- Into the large bowl of an electric mixer, turn all ingredients in order given. At low speed beat ½ minute; at medium speed 3 minutes.
- Turn into prepared pans. Bake in preheated 350 oven 30 to 35 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Let stand on wire racks 10 minutes. Turn out on racks and remove paper. Fill and frost as desired.
9 to 12 tbl butter, room-temperature soft
¾ c cocoa
1 tbl vanilla
¾ tsp salt
6 tbl brewed coffee
Mix by hand or use beater.
This became our family recipe, even before our first child was born in 1982. Now it's an important, if not THE most important, part of a birthday party in our family.
When Julia was 6, and asked to draw a picture of her favorite food, she did this:
On the day of Lucia's tenth birthday, September 11, 2001, those over age 10 around the dining room table did not want birthday cake. We were consumed with shock and grief. But Lucia got her birthday dinner and her cake.
Now it's my birthday, a date and year which I share with the author Jane Smiley: September 26, 1949. Jane has already gone on to win the Pulitzer Prize, but I'm not jealous. Not at all. Happy birthday, Jane, wherever you are!
As for my having to make my own cake, it's like this: Joe Rubin has baked it almost every year in the years we've been married. I can cut him some slack this year. Besides, he's making scallops sauteed in vermouth for my birthday dinner.