1920s Chocolate Cream Cake Recipe

How does this Art Deco era cake fare against modern day versions?

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Here at Heirlooms at Home, we’re of the mind that some things are timeless, and one of those things is food. Sure, recipes evolve, but the classics stay remarkably unchanged across decades of baking and family traditions. We’re sharing a simple yet delightful take on a chocolate cream cake that was published back in 1920. Admittedly the cookbook was a little hard to follow, so we broke down the recipe below. But for history’s sake, here’s a small expert of cakemaking tips from the cookbook author, Mary Elizabeth Lyles Wilson:

CAKEMAKING.

In making cake, there are a few important facts to consider.

The success depends upon materials used. Always select fresh eggs and butter, the best and purest of baking powder, and a good grade of granulated sugar. Always sift if sugar is coarse. If the recipe calls for sweet milk, have it fresh; if sour, have thick, good milk. Use the best grade of winter wheat flour. Have everything clean and in readiness when you begin to mix the cake. If in winter, have butter warm, but not melted, and keep the temperature of the cake the same. Do not let it get chilled or the butter mixture will separate. In summer, I find it an excellent idea to use a little crushed ice to put the bowl in after the sugar and butter are well blended. I will give directions here for mixing the different kinds of cake, and this is followed in all the recipes.

If it is your desire to have cakes that are proof of your skill, or even if your ambition is just to serve simple palatable cakes, you must learn one lesson at the outset — no part of it can be carelessly done. Measuring, mixing, baking, all must have attention — correct, intelligent care is necessary — you should know what you are doing and why, if you want to be certain of success. Don’t think I consider cakemaking a formidable undertaking. I do not, but I certainly do consider it worth doing well and know from many years’ experience how small things can ruin big ones.

[Cake Baking Tips]

  • The thing I want to stress first is measuring ingredients- Measure everything. If you use a marked measure do so carefully. If you use a cup or glass for your measuring, be very sure to employ the same size vessel for each ingredient. Two cups are necessary — one for liquids and one for dry materials.
  • Butter should be cold — cut it in small pieces and fill the measuring cup full, but do not pack.
  • Flour is sifted, then put into cup with spoon. Fill cup to overflowing, then scrape off even. Sugar is measured in the same manner.
  • If milk is needed, you cannot, of course, heap up or level down, but you can, and many of you do underfill the cup. If the recipe calls for a certain amount of milk, use exactly that— no more and no less; a cupful is a cup filled full.
  • Powdered material, cinnamon, baking powder, etc, is measured by spoonfuls when making things in quantities. Your recipe should tell you, and all good ones do, whether a level, heaping or rounded spoonful is needed. A heaping spoon means piling up, every particle the size spoon called for will hold. A rounded spoon must be piled full, then shaken gently until the powder is just rounded over the spoon. A level spoon is piled, up and then smoothed off even.
  • About Eggs. — Either measure or weigh eggs if you wish to always get the same results.

Chocolate Cream Cake Recipe
Mary Elizabeth Lyles Wilson, 1920

Chocolate Cream Cake Recipe
Mary Elizabeth Lyles Wilson, 1920

Be sure to let me know if you try out this chocolate cream cake recipe and if you have any feedback for our future baking adventures.

chocolate cream cake recipe

Chocolate Cream Cake from 1920

Serves: 8 Prep Time: Cooking Time:
Rating: 5.0/5
( 5 voted )

Ingredients

CAKE

  • 3 eggs beaten separately
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup sweet milk
  • 1 scant cup butter.
  • 3 level teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/4 lb. chocolate melted over hot water with
  • 1 tablespoonful of vanilla

FROSTING

  • 4 tablespoonfuls of sweet cream
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon each of cocoa and vanilla
  • 1 cup sugar 

Instructions

  1. First, get pans ready. Cut white 'or light brown paper to fit the bottom of the pan to be used, brush with melted butter on the bottom and sides; keep brush for this purpose.
  2. Sift flour, measure, and sift four or five times with baking powder.
  3. Separate egg yolks from egg whites and beat the egg whites. 
  4. To measure a cup of butter, cut the butter into little particles while cold and fill the measuring cup with the particles.
  5.  Cream the butter and add to it one cup of sugar.
  6. Beat the egg yolks very, very lightly and add to them the remainder of the sugar (3/4 cup).
  7. Combine the butter and sugar mixture with the yolk and sugar mixture. 
  8. To this mixture, add the flour, sweet milk, and the beaten egg whites, in alternation.
  9.  Blend in the melted chocolate and vanilla extract mixture last.
  10. Bake in layers or loaves, or large sheets. Turn out on linen cloth on a firm foundation, remove the pan and paper, and leave to cool.
  11. The recipe did not include time or oven temperature given the era of baking. Based on other cake recipes, bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes at 350 F.

TO MAKE FROSTING:

  1. Mix frosting ingredients thoroughly, and put over a vessel of hot water. Stir to a smooth cream.
  2. Let cool a little before spreading on the cake, or it will run.

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