Welcome to another edition of the Secret Recipe Club – it’s been a while since I’ve been able to participate and am glad to be back. This month I get one of my favorite people in the world! Meet April of Home Sweet Homestead. April is a wonderful woman and friend who I am hoping to meet in person some day – maybe next March!! (When you read this April, let’s chat – I didn’t want to give away that I had your blog, LOL.)
April lives in Southern Indiana, near where my grandparents and parents grew up. We talk the same language – Hoosier! I may be a California girl who loves the Beach Boys, but my heart is in the Midwest! We both treasure the times when families gather around the dinner table, sharing home cooked meals that use healthy ingredients, and in April’s case, often home grown.
April has the most amazing recipes – all my childhood favorites. Get a load of these delicious recipes that make me want to run immediately into the kitchen and start cooking … Chili Cheese Potato Wedges, Balsamic Dijon Glazed Pork Chops, Cottage Pie-Stuffed Potatoes, Turkey Pot Pie with Cornbread Crust, and her Turkey, White Bean, Pumpkin Chili. Holy Moly, I am in heaven!!
In addition to recipes, April also shares product reviews, helpful household tips, gardening pointers, and DIY products to improve our lives. The one that caught my attention first, is her “recipe” for DIY Non-Stick Cooking Spray. Brilliant! No more chemicals and other icky stuff while still getting the same results – so clever! I am definitely going to make this soon and I can’t wait!
While I was looking for some fun chocolate recipes for you I found so many I wanted to make … be sure to check out her Chocolate Macaroons and White Chocolate Pumpkin Mousse in Chocolate Bowls. WOW! But when I saw her recipe for Depression Era Cake, I knew I had found my winner.
This one spoke to my heart because my grandmother, Mimi, survived the Depression, always getting food on the table with her wits and creativity. Simple, hearty and delicious foods that fill you up – I still dream about her chicken and dumplings and caramel candies! You could make this dessert even when ingredients were scarce because it doesn’t contain eggs, milk, or butter which were expensive and hard to find. Regular pantry supplies could be mixed together and your family had a delicious cake for the evening meal.
The use of oil instead of butter adds a luscious richness to the cake and helps it rise high to create a light crumb. With a simple swap from all-purpose flour to a gluten-free blend, you’ve got a dessert nearly everyone can enjoy. This cake is so good it doesn’t even need frosting.
In the recipe, April suggests you frost the cake with your favorite topping. She chose her favorite vanilla buttercream but I thought I would give a nod to Mimi and make a riff on the caramel frosting that always topped my father’s favorite cake, her Red Devil’s Food cake. I made it every year for his birthday and he “staked a claim” to at least half of the cake!
A friend of mine can consume butter but not milk products, so I made a new version of Mimi’s caramel frosting, using maple syrup to provide the moisture the heavy cream would have in the original recipe. This way we can both enjoy chatting over a cup of coffee and a piece of luscious cake! Caramel Maple Buttercream may not be the first frosting that comes to mind when you think of chocolate cake, but it is absolutely addictive.
Thanks for a fantastic recipe April, and a heartfelt walk down the paths of my childhood. Enjoy this cake my friends, and Happy Chocolate Monday!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
Whipping the Caramel Maple buttercream frosting for longer than normal before adding the powdered sugar helps you be sure that all the sugar granules are dissolved. Without the moisture from cream, you may want to beat it longer than normal.
I baked my cake in a ceramic baking dish and it needed about 10 minutes longer baking time. If you use a thin aluminum pan, it may take less. Always take into consideration the type of pan you are using and its heating properties. You will get better results!
Use a gluten-free flour blend and add a little xanthan gum or psyllium husk powder if gums bother you. The cake is very moist and tender, a little more so with the GF flour. You may need to bake it a little longer. Be sure it pulls away from the sides of the pan and is firm in the center.
- 3 cups (380g) all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour blend
- If you are using a gluten-free flour blend that does not already contain gums, add 1/2 tsp xanthan or 1 tsp psyllium husk powder
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup (12 tbsp) cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cup water
- 2/3 cup pure olive oil
- 2 tbsp white vinegar
- 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks; 6 oz) butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp kosher or fine sea salt
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract or vanilla paste
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp maple flavoring, or to taste
- 2 to 3 cups confectioners' sugar, as needed
- Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9x13-inch baking pan. Set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl stir together the flour, (xanthan gum if using), sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the water, olive oil, and vinegar, and stir until well combined. Pour cake batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Top with a little sifted powdered sugar (for a dairy-free dessert), or Caramel Maple Buttercream Frosting (following).
- Prepare the Frosting: In the bowl of your standing mixer (or a large mixing bowl if using a hand mixer), combine the butter, maple syrup, brown sugar, salt, vanilla and maple flavoring. Beat on Low until smooth. Increase the speed to Medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl and beater as needed. Reduce the speed to Low and slowly add the confectioners' sugar, a little at a time, mixing well between additions and scraping the bowl and beater occasionally. Start with 2 cups, adding more as needed to get a nice spreading consistency. If it gets too thick, add a little more maple syrup, mixing until smooth. If it gets to soft, you can refrigerate for a few minute to firm up the butter or add a touch more powdered sugar.
- To Serve: Spread the frosting evenly in a thick layer over the top of the cake with an off-set spatula. Let it set up for about 15 minutes before slicing. Store the cake in the refrigerator, and return to room temperature before serving.
- Yield: 6 to 8 servings; enough icing for a 9-inch layer cake or 9x13-inch sheet cake
Here are more recipes from The Secret Recipe Club just for you!
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