MiMi’s Chocolate Cake

J – My grandmother, MiMi, used to make the best desserts, in addition to making the best just about everything. Most Thanksgivings we would head down to the Gulf coast in Texas with the whole family and spend a good weekend eating everything in sight. To this day, my favorite part of Thanksgiving is the transition from entrees to desserts. It’s that moment when you’ve just stuffed yourself silly with turkey and mashed potatoes and you think you can’t possibly eat another bite. That is, until someone brings out countless desserts and suddenly you aren’t as full as you thought you were. My three favorite desserts of hers were her chicken scratch cake, pumpkin pie, and chocolate cake, and I’ve quite stupidly never thought to ask for the recipes. Well, last night my parents sent me some of MiMi’s old recipes and it turns out not only are the incredibly tasty, they’re incredibly easy. Today, let’s make some chocolate cake – it will take 10 minutes, promise.

MiMi’s Chocolate Cake

  • 2 cups flour (I used cake, you can use AP or whatever you like)
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup baking cocoa
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 – 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk, combine 1tbsp white vinegar and 1 cup minus 1 tbsp cream and let sit for ~5 minutes).
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 cup boiling water (add last!)

Preheat oven to 300F. Combine everything in a mixing bowl, adding the boiling water last. Mix thoroughly and pour into a 9″x13″ baking pan. Yes, it will look very low in there – it’s fine. The buttermilk and the huge amounts of baking soda, plus the relatively light flour use, means this cake rises like crazy. Bake at 300F for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Enjoy!2014-07-05 09.30.16This cake is fudgy, chocolatey goodness. Because you use relatively little flour and lots of baking soda plus the acidic buttermilk, this cake rises like crazy and, despite its richness, is very light and fluffy. I chose not to top mine, but go ahead and whip up a chocolate fudge frosting if you wanna double down on chocolate, or a nice espresso chocolate or salted caramel frosting if you want some layers here. Or, just sprinkle some powdered sugar on this and enjoy. A quick note – some of you might be wondering why we didn’t separately mix our wet and dry ingredients then combine. You can, but you don’t need to, and this cake comes out great regardless. Without the melted butter to mix in (instead using oil) and with the addition of boiling water, everything will go in smoothly, trust me.



A while back, I wanted to try to make a typical Portuguese pastry called Pastel de Nata (one of these days I’ll make it again and post the recipe). It requires puff pastry, but when we went to the supermarket I couldn’t find it. So we got Phyllo dough instead, hoping it would be the same. Turns out, they’re different (see here, for example), so I ended up with two packages of phyllo dough in the freezer.

Well, last week we got a bunch of apples, and it’s Fall, and I wanted to do something with the phyllo dough… Apple strudel! I based my recipe on this one, but changed a couple of things. First, I chopped 5 apples. This is time consuming and tedious, but you want the apple bits to be small. Then I crumbled 4oz (120g) of bread in the food processor – I used toast slices I had bought to eat with cheese. I melted 1 tbsp of butter and toasted the bread for about 3 min. The apples were mixed with the bread, 1 cup (200g) of sugar, 1 tsp of cinnamon and 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts (I’m not a big fan of raisins and had those around). That makes the filling, then I had to deal with the phyllo dough. One by one, I separated the sheets, sprayed some cooking spray, and put another sheet on top. Each roll had 4-5 sheets. After they were stacked, and with some film over them, I pressed them together. The film helps because your hands don’t end up sticking to the dough. Also, it’s ok if the dough cracks, there are several layers and the filling won’t escape.

Then I placed the filling in the dough, like this:

The smaller sides of the dough were folded in and then I rolled the rest.

Finally, I melted 2 tbsp of butter in the microwave and brushed the top of the rolls. I ended up with four of these.

These were then baked at 375ºF (190ºC) for 25 min.

Just to make it prettier, I dusted some powdered sugar on top.