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!


Kathryn Lake said...

Happy New Year Becky! What a treasure to have handwritten recipes from your ancestors. Please try out the chocolate cake recipe soon. I have been searching for a good recipe to make my birthday cake later this month, and your grandmother's recipe looks like just the thing!


Debbie Blanton McCoy said...

Sounds yummy. My grandmother passed away in 1986, too, and I still miss her. Wish I had her banana pudding recipe but she never wrote it down.

Becky Jamison said...

Comment from my Dad (Ernie Margheim) sent to me by email: "Most interesting. I never thought I should have given you that recipe box ten years ago. In recent years Phyllis baked quite often especially to take to work and share with the folks. Often the girls would have a fund raiser, and sell baked goods in the office to the help, Most of the time, Phyllis's cakes sold without cutting into pieces, usually $7 or $10 a cake. I remember often as she baked them the night before, while mixing,she would find she needed an item from the store, so I would run over to Dillons to get what she lacked."

Dorene from Ohio said...

That is awesome that you have
this wonderful recipe!

Cheryl Fleming Palmer said...

Better yet, your dad commented and added to this wonderful story! Were you aware of this added info?

Becky Jamison said...

Yes, Cheryl, he sent his comment to me in an email so I placed it in the comment section so others could read it too.

Taylorstales-Genealogy said...

Happy New Year Becky! Thank you for sharing this story. My grandmother Lucy was a great cook, but I never saw her measure anything when she cooked or baked. I loved her baked beans the most as did most of my many cousins! It took me at least six years of watching her make those baked beans before I could get the recipe right. A pinch of this, a handful of that, a dash of something else....oh my goodness. To this day, I have to taste the beans before they are cooked to know if I have added enough of this, that and something else! When I have it right they are soooo good! Not only a great recipe but a better memory of Lucy!
Thanks for sharing this story friend!

Claudia's thoughts said...

Many years ago I went to an antique store and purchased a small note book and it was filled with the same type of recipes. I wonder now if her descendants wished that they had that notebook I will have to find it and see if there are any names in it.

Anonymous said...

What a sweet post! I love that you scanned the original hand-written recipe for us to see. You've honored your grandmother in a wonderful way (now you just need to bake the cake and tell everyone the actual measurements) :)

Thanks for visiting my site today. Cheers - MoSop

Lori said...

This is wonderful! How special it is to have her recipe, handwritten! What a treasure!

Anonymous said...

The handwritten recipe is wonderful - it makes it come to life. Have you had a chance to make the cake yet? I love making recipes from my Grandma, it makes her feel close. JoLyn

Karen said...

I love your post (and your blog!). I lost my grandma in 1991, and also got her recipes. Nothing tastes sweeter than a recipe from your grandma. :)

I've selected your blog for the Happy 101 award, which you can pick up over at Ancestor Soup (

I'm looking forward to your 2010 posts!

Lisa said...

It was such a wonderful idea to scan and share your grandmother's handwritten recipe. A true family treasure... Looks yummy, too.

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