Wednesday, September 14, 2011

92 candles for our favorite family cake!

This is my Popop a while back.

A tall, handsome, hardworking man. He has the biggest hands I have ever seen. He could wrestle a gorilla if he wanted. And he was the epitome of sustainable living. All of this trendy gardening, efficient-green living was his life. He knew the ground like the back of those big hands. He was green before we knew what it was. And he has the most gentle, kind spirit. I'll never forget when I first witnessed racism and asked my father about it. He told me that his daddy always told him that every other man puts on their pants the same way you do, so you shouldn't treat them any different. Now don't get me wrong, he wasn't all sugar. He'll set you straight if you're out of line but he's the sweetest grandfather and every memory I have of him is a pleasant one. I am so thankful for that.

But this is Popop now (and my Dad with him.)

On his 92nd birthday, he couldn't get out of bed. His back was hurting and he wasn't really speaking to us. His dimensia has progressed so that he doesn't recognize us much any more but he rallies every once in a while to tell us important things, like that my Dad is a good boy or that I'm somethin' special. He wasn't up for cake on the big day but the day after, he slowly but surely enjoyed a piece with Dad's help and a cup of cold milk.

Popop could eat a horse. On many occasions as a little girl, I marveled at the amount of food he could eat without ever gaining a pound. And boy did he have a sweet tooth, something he's passed down to all of us. The man could eat chocolate cake around any hormonal lady. So when my Dad asked me to bake Popop a cake for the blog, we talked about our traditional family cake. "The one with the cooked frosting and coffee?," I said? That's the one. It's been passed down for many years now from our Great Aunt Sue and shared with friends and family alike. It's the most deliciously moist cake I've ever had and the frosting is truly unique.

We contemplated making this a secret family recipe. Well, by we, I mean my sister and I. But the more important family members who have made this longer than we have, insist it's for everyone to know about. I've always despised secrets in family cooking anyway. Food is for sharing with people you love. If you use someone else's recipe, just please give them credit. It's the baker's code of ethics. Give credit where it's due and while you're practicing that, you must must make this cake.

Aunt Sue's Chocolate Cake with Cooked Frosting

2 c flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
3/4 c unsweetened cocoa
2 c sugar

Sift the above ingredients together into your mixer.

1 c vegetable oil
1 c hot coffee
1 c milk

Add to mixer with dry ingredients and set to medium for two minutes.

2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Add to batter and mix another two minutes. (it will be VERY soupy. Don't be alarmed, that means it will be the most incredible cake you'll ever put in your mouth! Not a problem.)

Pour batter in a greased and floured 9x13 (or 2 9 in. cake pans, keeping in mind that this moist of a cake is sometimes difficult to frost!!)
Bake at 325 for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

For the frosting:

1 c milk
5 tbs flour

Warm milk in a sauce pan and quickly whisk in the flour. Once mixture thickens, remove from heat and allow to cool until cake is ready to frost.

1/2 c butter
1/2 c shortening
1 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Combine these ingredients with the flour (gloop!) and mix until smooth with a stand or hand mixer. Frost cooled cake and serve!!


  1. Your grandfather sounds like quite a man. Such a sweet tribute. And thanks for sharing your family's cake recipe- sounds delcious!

  2. Thank you Anna for honoring PopPop in such a special way! It was nice to see this since I couldn't be there on his B-day!

  3. So precious! And what a yummy looking recipe.

  4. I love the pics and post - I always remember him being so tall, like my grandpa bone..i love that you still have him here with you and I can't wait to try your aunt Sue's recipe..glad to see him enjoying his cake!!

  5. Thanks for the story and recipe, Anna! My grandparents will always be so special to me, too.

  6. Thank you for sharing about your Popop. And for this recipe! I've never seen a frosting recipe like that. And coffee chocolate cake, too! Yum.

  7. It would be wonderful if we all could find words to express how much we love our family members, as you did here.

  8. I can't believe you gave this out!! Just kidding ;) Very sweet way to honor Papa for his birthday. Wish I could have been with you to celebrate. Can't help but read this and cry though. So many sweet memories. Can't wait to see you soon!!!

  9. What a special post and recipe...I love family traditions like this :)

  10. Thanks so much, everyone. It means a lot to me that you all took the time to read about him and join in my appreciation for his sweet life. The recipe just puts the icing on the cake :D! <3s to all.

  11. It is a lovely story. Aging is challenging for everyone I think. Your pictures of your grandfather from his prime and now are really poignant. The cake with the cook frosting sounds fascinating.