My Mother’s Chocolate Cake

So awhile back, I made my Grandmother’s Applesauce Cupcakes (I love, love, love them, by the way) and frosted them with the Ermine Buttercream that I use on with My Mother’s Chocolate Cake.

My Mother's Chocolate Cake

My Mother’s Chocolate Cake

Of course, I couldn’t get my Mom’s Chocolate Cake off my mind after that! This cake came out of a 1959 McCalls magazine – My Mom and her friend, Bev, pilfered it from the Doc’s when she was pregnant with me. I learned to make it as a youngster and have been making it ever since.

It’s very light – looking through the recipe, you’ll notice that it has only one stick of butter and uses egg whites only. It’s probably one of the first “light” cakes out there. Well, that’s just a marvelous foil for the wonderful frosting – but be very careful not to over bake or it will be dry and crumbly.

My Mother's Chocolate Cake

My Mother’s Chocolate Cake

While this chocolate cake dirties a few dishes and is just a bit of a pain with the folding in of the egg whites and the sifting of the flour, it’s so worth it.

Our family has always made this in a 9 x 13″ pan so I’ve never tried it as a layer cake – but put it out on the counter with a few teenagers around or tote it to a potluck and it will be inhaled in no time!

My Mother's Chocolate Cake

My Mother’s Chocolate Cake

My Mother's Chocolate Cake

  • Servings: ?
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of salt (omit if butter is salted)
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 3 tablespoons warm tap water
  • 2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 3 egg whites, beaten to soft peaks
  • 1 recipe Ermine Buttercream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or oil a 9 x 13 pan.

In a large bowl, cream together butter, vanilla and salt. In a medium sized bowl, mix sugar, cocoa and the three tablespoons of hot water. Add to the butter mixture and beat to blend.

In another bowl, mix flour with baking soda. Add alternately to the butter mixture with the cup of cold water: 1/3 of flour mixture, 1/2 cup water, 1/3 flour mixture, 1/2 cup water and finish with the final 1/3 cup of flour mixture. Do this at low-speed, mixing as little as possible and scraping down after each addition.

Fold in egg whites, starting with about a third to lighten and then gently fold in the rest.

Pour into pan, smooth top and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the edges have just started to pull away from the pan and the center of the cake pops back up when gently pressed with a finger. Do not over bake or cake will be dry.

Cool and frost with Ermine Buttercream.


  • If you only have one set of beaters, whip the egg whites first and set aside as you mix the cake; use the same beaters for the cake (no need to rinse.)
  • This cake is good enough to justify a purchase of cake flour, but in a pinch, sift flour and remove one tablespoon per cup of flour.

Recipe originally from McCalls, frosting (Ermine Buttercream) has been adapted & increased from the original.

Kitchen & Cooking Hacks:

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You know I’ll be bringing this to our Throwback Thursday #40 Link Party, hosted by Quinn of Dad What’s for Dinner, Meaghan of 4 Sons are Us, Alli of Tornadough, Carlee from Cooking with Carlee and Moi! That’s right – me!

Click over to our latest Throwback Thursday post for links to their blogs and social media, rules and more info or just click on the blue leapfrog, below, to view all the Throwback Thursday Posts or enter your own!

I’ll also be bring this to Angie’s Fiesta Friday, so check it out!

23 thoughts on “My Mother’s Chocolate Cake

  1. I love recipes that become a real tradition. I never had that since my mom wasn’t such a cooking princess. But oh my do I need to try that cake of yours. It looks fantastic! Pinned!

    • Thanks much, Sarah! I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without cooking and learning to cook and bake very young. My Mom was a whiz in the kitchen and I think of her all the time when I make her recipes. 🙂

  2. I always like to try new chocolate-cake recipes, and I’d loooooove to try this one. The cake looks great! I also like the fact that is contains egg-whites, because I always have many in the freezer.

    • Thanks! The frosting is gorgeous and I like it because it’s rich and decadent but not too sweet! I hope you’ll stop by and let me know how you like it if you make it. 🙂

  3. Teri Giese

    This recipe looks and sounds really good.The hubs,loves the flour based frosting on a dark chocolate cake, (his fave).Would be great for potlucks or bbq,being a sheet cake.Pin,print,make soon.Thanks 😆

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