I don’t remember exactly when I was given the recipe, only that I was. I was in yiayia’s kitchen helping her with her baking, and as she was putting one recipe card back in the box, she handed me another card for Basic Cake, saying: “This was your mother’s. Take it.” So I did. I took it home, put it in an envelope marked “recipes”, and left it there. It was valuable to me because it one of the few items I had in my mother’s handwriting.
Last winter I wanted to make a chocolate cake, so I started looking for a recipe. I didn’t like anything I found in my recipe books, and a short internet search proved just as unsuccessful. So many recipes expected me to actually melt real chocolate, and I had no interest in doing anything that difficult. I was ready to give up, when I remembered my Basic Cake recipe card. I knew exactly where it was, tucked away in a white envelope inside my Audrey Hepburn cookbook. I pulled it out and looked at the ingredient list, in my mother’s slightly cursive English writing (so that’s why yiayia had given it to me! She couldn’t understand it!)
This I could work with! I had all the ingredients, and by this point I had spent enough time in yiayia’s kitchen that the lack of instructions didn’t bother me. I could figure out how to mix all the ingredients. To make my chocolate cake, I skipped the lemon rind and added cocoa powder and chocolate chips. I also swapped oil for butter, and milk for coconut milk, for a final recipe that looked like this:
Prep time: 15-20 minutes; Cooking time: ~45 minutes
- 1 cup butter
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 4 cups flour
- 6 eggs
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 4 tbsp cocoa powder
- ½ cup chocolate chips
- 2 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)
- Preheat oven to 360F
- Melt butter on low heat
- In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and cocoa powder. Add egg yolks and melted butter and mix.
- In a separate bowl, combine sugar and egg whites, and mix until egg whites start to form peaks
- Add sugar and egg whites to large bowl, along with coconut milk, and mix
- Pour half the batter into a baking pan (or two loaf pans), and sprinkle ¼ cup on chocolate chips (and 1 tbsp coconut flakes). Add remaining batter, and sprinkle remaining chocolate chips (and coconut flakes).
- Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a knife can slide cleanly through the cake
- Makes 2 small loaves
The result is a tasty and moist chocolate pound cake. I have since successfully made vanilla, cinnamon and almond pound cakes. The variations continue, but at their core are the same 6 simple ingredients (I always skip the lemon “grind”).
What variations will you come up with?