Chocolate cake secrets revealed

When the birthday girl cut the cake and dished it out to her classmates, the boys chimed in with their accolades. “Yummy, this is good.”

With sticky, chocolate-stained fingers, they applauded Kiera, hoping there would be seconds.

Kiera, one of my Grade 5 students at a Christian private school, brought a chocolate cake to celebrate her birthday. The children particularly enjoyed treats, such as Timbits, cupcakes, ice-cream bars, cookies, cinnamon rolls and other delights, served on their special day. But this cake topped their expectations.

“Scrumptious,” I turned to Kiera with my mouth still full of the delightful morsel. “This cake beats even one out of a box. It is ever so moist, a rich chocolaty flavour and so delicious; it just melts in your mouth. What’s your secret?”

“Actually, the recipe belonged to my great-grandmother. It’s a cake made from scratch.”

“Did you make it?”

Kiera’s eyes sparkled. “Yes. It’s easy. Anyone can do it.”

She was right. Back home in my kitchen, I tried the recipe. There was nothing complicated about this heavenly joy. I simply tossed all the ingredients in a single bowl and beat it for two minutes, poured it into my Bundt pan and baked it for 35 minutes.

Since then I have baked it hundreds of times for family gatherings, where siblings, nephews and nieces crowded around the dessert table to get the last piece. At my church camp, other cooks and I have multiplied the recipe many times to serve a 100 or so kids. At my writing group, I overheard a gentleman comment, “oh well, I’ll just have another piece of Frieda’s chocolate cake.”

International students from China, Dubai, Turkey, Mexico, Nigeria, Korea, Iran, Germany, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Poland, Colombia and many other countries, whom I taught on Friday nights, dubbed it, “Frieda’s cake.”

When I taught some of this group English using cooking as my theme, I instructed them how to make it. I also passed it on to family and friends and sent it to folks who were publishing recipe books. This nugget of delight has passed hands from a great-grandmother in Ukraine to grandmother, Sonja, to a child’s birthday party in a Grade 5 classroom, to my kitchen and into many homes in different countries around the globe.

Pass on the joy.

Sonja’s chocolate cake (named after Kiera’s grandmother)

  • 1 3/4 c. flour 200 g
  • 1/2 c. cocoa 50 g
  • 1 tsp. baking soda 6 g
  • 1 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder 6 g
  • 3/4 tsp. salt 6 g
  • 2/3 c. oil 180 ml
  • 2 eggs 2
  • 1 1/4 c. milk 300 ml

Sift together all the dry ingredients. Add the liquid. Beat at medium speed for two minutes.

Pour into a greased Bundt pan and bake at 350 F for 35 minutes. Let it cool for about 10 minutes. Serve with or without a topping.

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