Chocolate Pound Cake

by Rachel on January 31, 2010

Let them eat cake, but only this cake.

When I was a kid two of my father’s best friends used to make this amazing cake.  The cake originated in Gambier, Ohio and so we always called it the Gambier Chocolate Cake. I was given the recipe as a wedding present in 1994 in a lovely handwritten book that my mother put together for me of favorite recipes from all of my girlfriends.  This cake is dense – in a good way.  Something about it speaks to the American heartland.  It isn’t fussy, or elaborate.  It’s straightforward and direct and it begs to be served with ice cream and fresh berries.  I can see two friends sitting on a porch staring off into the distance with a slab of this cake and a steaming hot mug of coffee.

  • 2 sticks butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup Crisco
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 3 cups cake flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Butter and flour a tube cake pan.

Cream butter and Crisco with sugar until light and creamy.  I don’t ordinarily cook with Crisco, in fact, I had to send my Dad down to the store to buy some for this recipe.  He theorized that it contributes to the smooth consistency of the cake.  If you’re entirely opposed to Crisco you could substitute the same amount of solid, unsalted margarine but don’t come whining to me about the results.  Add eggs, one at a time.

Sift the dry ingredients (which includes the cocoa powder).  Add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture alternating with the milk, and then add the vanilla.

Pour the batter into the cake pan.  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the cake begins to pull away from the side of the pan and a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.  I gently slipped a sharp knife around the edges before I pulled it out of the pan and it came out really easily.  My Father says don’t leave the cake in the pan any longer than ten minutes or you’ll steam the cake and ruin its nice crust.  I always listen to my father when he says stuff like this.  You should too.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Joe davison November 12, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Interestingly, searching for “chicken cachengo” on Tastespotting links me to this chocolate cake recipe, which is not what I expected…

I’m telling them, too — maybe it’ll get fixed

Rachel November 13, 2010 at 6:35 am

That’s odd. Perhaps Tastespotting just wants everyone to eat cake!

Deborah Hendrick November 15, 2010 at 11:02 am

I was so pleased to see this recipe, and learn that it is still being shared around the country.

My mother acquired this same recipe in the early 1960s at Hamlin, Texas, and it is our family favorite. She was adamant about adding the eggs one at a time! The recipe originally called for 7-Minute Frosting on the cake, but my father thought the cake was much better plain. My mother made this cake all the time, and the only time it failed was when she was baking one so she could enter it in the Tri-State Fair in Amarillo, TX.

We love the dense and velvety texture, and my husband and son love it because it is not a fussy cake and you can hold a piece in one hand to eat it.

My mother mailed this cake to my son (first class mail) while he was in the Navy and stationed in Scotland, but when the cake arrived in Scotland, he’d been forward deployed to Italy, so the Navy post office sent it to Italy. But by the time the cake arrived in Italy, he was in Norway, so the cake went to Norway. When the package finally made it to Norway, he was back in Italy.

Finally the cake caught up with him in Scotland and it was green! His buddies begged him to cut off the green, so he did—but it was green all the way through! There was great mourning and gnashing of teeth over the ruined Chocolate Pound Cake. If the cake hadn’t been mailed first class, the mail clerk at the base in Scotland would have put it in the freezer, because he knew what it was, but first class mail has to be forwarded.

Rachel November 15, 2010 at 7:53 pm

Dear Deborah:

What a lovely story! Thanks so much for sharing it!

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