Updated: Nov 27
For this installment of A Taste of Transcona, I decided to make a recipe called Chocolate Polka Dot Cake by Mrs. C.S Edie. Now, I'm a pretty proficient baker but the recipe not giving instructions beyond where to use the chocolate chips did give me pause. Nevertheless, I forged ahead to the best of my knowledge and this is how it all unfolded.
I did cheat and use a hand mixer but my guns are not made of steel, so sorry guys.
Firstly, I preheated my oven to about 350F. I figured, slow and low was better than a burnt cake and 350F seems to be about average cake baking temperature.
Then I went about making the batter. I combined all the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. As a rule, I always like to sift all my dry ingredients, as I find it makes for a lighter cake plus, it makes mixing so much easier! Then in another bowl I creamed the sugar with the shortening. After creaming the sugar and shortening I slowly added the rest of the wet ingredients, beating well in between each addition. I then folded in the dry ingredients and the chocolate chips in. Confession time, whenever I make something that calls for chocolate chips, I don’t measure it. I just chuck in however much I feel like adding and sometimes that’s half a bag. That’s why we’ve taken to buying the big 2.4kg bags of chocolate chips from Costco. Oops? So, add however much you want to add. No judgement, not like I have any room to judge!
So, the batter turned out a little thicker than I'm used to making and also chunky because of the chocolate chips, as you can see in the pictures above. It also wasn't as sweet or vanilla-y as I'm used to.
After pouring my batter into a greased and lined round cake pan, I sprinkled another measurement of chocolate chips on top of the cake batter and then popped it into the oven.
While I waited for my cake to bake, I did some thinking on the recipe and how it had literally no helpful instructions and I think it shows how stuff in the kitchen was done in those days. You had your mom, or your grandmother, or your aunts, or basically any older female to show you how to do stuff and it was all passed on orally. Some families wrote it down on recipe cards but for the most part, mom was there to tell you how much to add of one thing and how long to put it in the oven for and how hot said oven should be. These types of recipes assume that by this point you know everything you’re supposed to know in the kitchen and just give you quantities!
It took a little over 35 minutes for my cake to cook, and because I didn't know how long it would take I kept checking on it, which is probably why it took a little longer. When the cake came out of the oven, it looked like a puffed up chocolate chip cookie, as you can see in the picture below! When it came out it did not feel like a cake at all, it was pretty solid and it was a hollow sound when you patted in on the bottom.
Not having instructions was kind of fun because it gave you a little bit of wiggle room in terms of how stuff went. Well, as much wiggle room as baking can give you and still have things turn out right. In this case, Mrs. Edie’s recipe did not say what type of icing to use so I just whipped up some leftover cream from our 24 Hour Salad into stiff peaks with a little bit of vanilla and icing sugar, and then folded some chocolate chips into the cream. Once the cake cooled, I iced it. I'm a pretty good cook and baker but decorator I am not, so it was't the best looking after I iced it but it was still pretty tasty.
Then it was moment of truth time, I took it with me the next day to the museum for our staff taste test, and it was quite good. All the staff enjoyed it, nearly everyone went in for seconds! Score! However, we did find it a little dry and dense. Perhaps it was because shortening doesn't have any water content in it, or maybe it was just how the cake really is. We found that we liked where the icing seemed to soak into the cake making it moister and more like cookie dough in texture. It was also a little difficult to cut, I'm not sure if that was because it had been in the fridge for a while or if it was just because of how dense it was. Maybe next time I make it I'll try with butter instead of shortening to see how it changes.
Overall, it was a very easy recipe to make if a little challenging due to the lack of instructions on baking tempersture and time and delicious. Which is the important part. I hope you guys give this recipe a chance and if you do, take pictures and share it with us on facebook and twitter!
Chocolate Polka Dot Cake
2 ¼ cups Flour
3 teaspoons Baking powder
1 teaspoon Salt
1/3 cup Shortening
3/4 cup Sugar
1 ½ teaspoon Vanilla
2/3 cup Milk
2/3 package Chocolate chips
2 cups Whipping Cream
6 tablespoons Icing Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/3 package Chocolate chips
1) Preheat oven to 350F and grease and line a cake pan.
2) Sift dry ingredients together into a medium sized bowl
3) Cream sugar and shortening together, then beat eggs in one by one making sure they are well incorporated. Then add in the rest of the wet ingredients.
4) Fold in the dry stuff and then fold in 1/3 of the chocolate chips.
5) Pour batter into prepped cake pan, and sprinkle another third of the chocolate chips.
6) Bake for 35 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean.
7) While waiting for the cake to cool, prep your preferred icing. For my icing, I whipped some heavy cream with some icing sugar and vanilla. Then fold in the last of the chocolate chips
8) Ice your cake and enjoy!