Mom’s Chocolate Cake

This is one of those old family recipes, handed down from my spouse’s mother. It is from before the time when science discovered that trans-fats are no good for you, and before the reformulation of Crisco to exclude them from the product. This new formula has not proved to be a problem for any of our other cakes, but there is something about this one that makes it come out extremely greasy. So we took a step backward in time and replaced vegetable shortening with lard. It saved this cake.

That “handed down” thing makes it sound extra authentic. It’s a funny thing though, that my spouse’s mother learned the recipe in high school home economics class! But it is no less authentic, for all that. It is perhaps for the past 65 years that the family has been making this. I think of the scores of occasions, such as birthdays, anniversaries, dinner parties, and potlucks, where this particular cake was an integral part. I imagine how it has come, wonderfully fragrant, out of the oven, time and time again: dark as Night, sweet as Love, and still hot as Hell.

It is at this point that the cake will reveal the hipster in you, because you will want to eat it…
before it’s cool.

1 tablespoon white vinegar
about 1 cup milk
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups flour
1 cup cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup lard
cup boiling water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Grease and flour a horn pan. Preheat the oven to 350°. Place 1 tablespoon white vinegar into a measuring cup, and add milk to make 1 cup liquid, total; set aside.

Sift together the dry ingredients. Melt the shortening; add milk, then the beaten egg. Add the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Add the boiling water and mix quickly. Add the vanilla and continue to mix quickly. Pour into pan, and bake for 1 hour (test with a toothpick at 50 min.). Remove from pan after 10 min., cooling on a rack.

Recipe may be halved for a greased, floured loaf pan.


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