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.