Chocolate Cake (ca. 1937)

I’ve been sick, so there’s been a minimum of work around here. But two weeks ago I went on to the next recipe in the Sands, Taylor / King Arthur booklet – Chocolate Cake “With Chocolate” (that’s what it says).

1-3/4 cups King Arthur Flour
1-1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
1 cup sour milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 or 3 squares melted chocolate

Cream shortening; add sugar and continue creaming. Add eggs, vanilla, and melted chocolate and beat well. Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with milk. Pour into oiled pan and bake [at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes].

I used 3 squares of chocolate and went with the old trick of adding 1 tablespoon of vinegar to a cup of whole lactose-free milk. Did anybody keep sour milk around just for recipes, I wonder, or did they all do that?

There was one major snag in this whole operation: the recipe specified a 7″ x 11″ loaf pan – a fact that I did not pick up on until I went to fetch a pan.

I do not own an 7 x 11 inch pan. It is not one of the basic standard sizes. (I have, however, found out where to get one should I decide to do so.)

As a result, after the batter was ready, there was a period of ransacking cabinets and remembering how to calculate the area of a circle.  I finally went with using one of my 8 x 8 square cake pans, as being closest in probable volume.  It more or less fit – rising up to the edge – but my uncertainty about the correct baking time meant that the edges were noticeably drier than the center (I kept it in for about 50 minutes).

After all that trouble I wasn’t in the mood for more experimenting and went with a familiar Portsmouth Frosting recipe from a modern Fannie Farmer book.  That worked with the cake – which was really quite good!  Of course, the other problem was a lack of items to store a square frosted cake in … but once we cut off part of it, the cover for my round cake plate more or less fit over it.

Looking ahead in the booklet, I also do not own a 9 x 11 inch loaf pan.  Or a 9 x 9 square pan.  Or an 8 x 13 inch loaf pan.  Or a 9 x 12 inch loaf pan.  And I’m not sure what a “1 1/2 pound loaf bread pan” might be.  However, in searching for information for this post, I’ve found several resources about pan sizes and baking times that I have bookmarked and will definitely refer to next time these odd sizes come up.

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