German Chocolate Cake
This is one of those classic 50s housewifey cakes. Layered to the point of being dangerous, sweet enough to put anyone in a diabetic coma, and using ingredients we might dismiss as being too 'manufactured.'
I grew up eating this cake and always knew it as Granny Schutza's recipe, my father's maternal grandmother. My mom got the recipe from my grandmother, my dad's mom Rose, and between her and this little diner in Hempstead, TX, that's the only place I can recall eating it. But I knew the smell of the cake - it wasn't like a regular chocolate cake - and every now and then I craved it.
When I went to baking school, one of our assignments was to bring pie and cake recipes from our families to make them in class. I brought two, both from Rose. The first was a red velvet cake and the second was this recipe. We were supposed to take what we'd learned and apply it to the recipes we'd brought to see how our technique might improve the results. I'll never forget that cake. It was awful.
Everything I'd been taught about sequence and chemistry was out the window with this. The recipe was designed with an amateur in mind, and to stray from its steps invited disaster. I would normally never mix and mix and mix cake batter - it toughens the crumb. This you can beat to heck. And boiling eggs with sugar and cream? Really? Yeah - boil.
The ingredients were also designed with a particular shopper in mind. I brought my designer chocolate and vanilla beans into the recipe and wound up with this dark, dry mess. No substituting butter for oil, or faking the buttermilk with curdled milk. It just doesn't work like that. The chocolate is a particular brand that has all manner of stuff in it, and there's no marking on the package listing cocoa content, something we see nowadays all over the place. I really feel this is the critical ingredient in this cake, otherwise it's just a chocolate cake. There's a link below for more information about the chocolate, plus a suggestion on how to substitute. I'm not in a hurry to try that method. I've learned my lesson about trying to outsmart the women in my family.
German Chocolate Cake
2 c sugar
1 c oil1 c buttermilk
4 egg yolks
4 egg whites beaten to meringue
2 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1 package Bakers German Chocolate (also known as sweet chocolate), 4 oz
1/2 c water
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare three 9" cake pans by spraying with oil and lining the bottom with a parchment paper circle.
- Dissolve the chocolate in 1/2 c warm water.
- Cream the oil, sugar, and egg yolk well. Scrape down the bowl well.
- Add 3/4 c buttermilk and 2 c of the flour to the egg mixture, alternating buttermilk then flour and so on, for a total of 3 additions of each. Scrape down the bowl well between additions.
- Dissolve the baking soda in 1/4 c buttermilk and add it to the batter.
- Add the remaining 1/2 c flour and scrape down the bowl well.
- Add the salt, melted chocolate and vanilla to the batter and mix well. Scrape down the bowl.
- Gently fold in the egg whites in 3 additions. Take care not to deflate the meringue when adding it to the batter.
- Divide the batter into the three pans and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes away clean.
- Cool completely, split the layers, and fill and top with icing (recipe to follow).
1 1/2 c heavy cream
2 T butter
4 egg yolks
1 c sugar
2 c coconut2 c chopped pecans
- In a saucepan on medium, combine the cream, sugar, egg yolks and butter. Whisk frequently to prevent the eggs from scrambling.
- When the contents boil (not a crazy boil, but a steady one), add the coconut and pecans and stir with a spoon until they are evenly coated.
Note: This recipe has the coconut and pecans doubled because I think the icing is thin without plenty of those two things. You can vary the amount of both, and cut back on the cream and eggs to your liking.