Friday, January 1, 2010

Grandma's Handwritten Chocolate Cake Recipe

Last month my dad gave me my mother's recipe box that was crammed full of recipe cards and newspaper clippings of 'Favorite Recipes' from "The Hutchinson News" (Hutchinson, Kansas). Only a few of her recipes were the original handwritten pages she collected over the years.

Of all the recipes I reviewed in this little tin, dark olive-drab box, the one I treasure most is the one shown above. It's in the handwriting of her mother-in-law, my paternal grandmother, Mollie Koleber Margheim. When my twin brother and I were 2 and 3 years old, we lived with Grandma Mollie. My Grandma baked a lot and of course everything was made from scratch. Her recipes weren't written, they were handed down the generations. Her measurements were approximate, in most cases. I remember one time she was explaining the ingredients she used to make her homemade German-style noodles and I recorded how many "cups" of flour she used. But in watching her mix the dough, I realized her "cups" were large coffee mugs!

You'll see in the recipe above, for Chocolate Cake, the quantities of the ingredients are exact, but the mixing directions are quite "vague". "Cream butter, add sugar, yolks of eggs beaten lightly, sour milk, hot water (how much?), flour, soda and chocolate and whites of eggs beaten until stiff. BAKE IN SLOW OVEN".

Don't ya love it? No baking time, temperature, testing for doneness, cooling instructions, or directions for greasing/flouring a pan, size of you see in the recipes today. Until I try out this recipe, I won't know if the "cups" are standard 8 oz. cups or large coffee mug-size cups.

On this first day of a new year, I wanted to post this recipe and story about my Grandma because, even though she passed away in 1986, she's with me every day, in my thoughts, memories and in my heart. Happy New Year, Grandma!
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