This is an old-fashioned chocolate cake is baked in a tube pan, comes out extremely moist, and is covered in decadent chocolate ganache. It’s incredibly easy to make and is perfect for both simple, everyday dinners and celebrating special occasions.
In case you haven’t noticed, I am forever pulled in the direction of old-fashioned recipes. If it came from someone’s grandma, was inspired by an Aunt Pearl, passed down from a next-door neighbor, or anything of that nature, I will immediately add it to my baking list.
I think part of it has to do with this desire I’ve had for as long as I can remember to have experienced life during the 1950’s. Maybe it was watching Nick at Nite as a kid and seeing shows like Donna Reed and My Three Sons, but I’ve always had this idyllic vision of that time period. I imagine that I would have totally fit right in, as being a stay-at-home was forever my dream job.
So, when I find recipes that originated decades ago, I love reveling in both their simplicity and delicious ingenuity. This Grammy Cake is a perfect example.
I bought the book Vintage Cakes ages ago and hadn’t picked it up in at least a year. A couple of weeks ago, the boys found their way into the office and as they were playing, I happened to grab it off the shelf and thumb through it.
One of the first pages that I landed on was this recipe for Grammy cake, which the author says was given to her grandmother from a next-door neighbor in 1949. As the story goes, the author’s grandmother would bake the cake, wrap it, and ship it off to her sons at college and in the military.
There was no question that this chocolate cake would be gracing my kitchen within a few days.
Grammy cake is traditionally baked in a tube pan (another blast from the past!); I think tube pans from back in the day are somewhat different from the tube pans slash angel food cake pans we have now, but I used mine and it worked wonderfully. I think you could also use a Bundt pan if you don’t have a tube pan.
The cake is super simple to make and turns out ridiculously moist. It’s slightly dense, but in the best possible way, like a borderline pound cake, but not quite.
Now, let’s talk presentation. The author’s grandmother would wrap and ship the cake without any garnishments, obviously. She mentions that the cake can be served warm with a dusting of powdered sugar, but I went for the third option (because of course I would) – a chocolate ganache glaze. I think this was a stellar decision.
The original recipe only called for using half of the ganache, but I used the whole thing, because… well, it’s ganache. No such thing as too much! You can see in the photos what it looks like for the cake to be covered in the whole batch of ganache – it’s definitely not drowning in it and, in my humble opinion, is pretty perfect!
If you’re looking for a simple chocolate cake that will wow a crowd, look no further. Serve it up after a nice dinner, to celebrate something special, or just because you happen to be craving chocolate cake on Thursday. Grammy cake is incredibly versatile, just like most grandmas that I know.
One year ago: Zucchini-Chocolate Chip Muffins
Two years ago: Easy Tiramisu Trifle
Five years ago: No-Bake Oatmeal-Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars
Six years ago: Two Ingredient Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream
Eight years ago: Arancini: Italian Rice Balls
For the Cake
- ½ cup (43 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup (250 ml) boiling water
- ¾ cup (170.25 g) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- ¼ cup (56 ml) canola oil
- 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
- 1½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar
- ½ cup (110 g) light brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) fine sea salt
- 3 eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
For the Chocolate Ganache
- 8 ounces (226.8 g) semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 cup (238 ml) heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10-cup tube pan or Bundt pan; set aside.
- Make the Cake: In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and baking soda. Whisk in the boiling water (the mixture will bubble). Add the butter cubes and canola oil and whisk occasionally to melt the butter. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugars, and salt, then whisk to ensure they are all well mixed.
- Add the eggs and vanilla to the cocoa mixture and whisk to combine. Slowly pour the cocoa mixture into the dry ingredients while stirring with a rubber spatula; stop stirring once the mixture has just combined and is free of lumps.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until a wooden skewer inserted in the middle comes out with moist crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool the cake in its pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes before inverting it onto a serving plate. Cool completely before glazing with chocolate ganache.
- Make the Chocolate Ganache: Place the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. Place the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Immediately pour the cream over the chocolate. Swirl the bowl to ensure that all of the chocolate is coated with the cream. Cover the bowl with a lid and let rest for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and begin to slowly whisk the mixture, starting with small circles in the middle and working your way outward until you have a smooth, glossy frosting. Let cool at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Place the cake on a serving platter and pour the ganache evenly over the top of the cake. The cake can be kept, covered, at room temperature for up to 5 days.
- While this recipe calls for a 10-cup pan, the only ones I have are 12-cup and it seemed to work just fine.
- You can make the ganache in advance; store covered at room temperature for up to 3 days. If it has thickened too much to pour, place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until desired consistency is reached.
- The recipe only calls for half of the chocolate ganache to be poured on top, but I used the whole thing, because no one every complained about too much ganache ;-)
- The cake can also be served warm and sprinkled with powdered sugar, in lieu of the chocolate ganache.