It’s a simple cake, no fuss and no frills. Quick to put together, and filled with memories.
Once in a while, after school, if we were lucky, we found a chocolate mayonnaise cake waiting for us. We needed a treat this week, so I revisited this old recipe, which I’m sure was a standard in many a household.
This is a no-fuss, nothing fancy cake, quick to put together using few ingredients. It is a Depression-era cake that was probably my grandmother’s recipe and used no eggs or oil, the mayonnaise provided both. When I was growing up, most mothers had this quick recipe to offer to the hungry kids!
I used Mom’s instructions for the most part, but instead of water I used French roast coffee left over from breakfast. I often add coffee to a chocolate dessert, the coffee does not scream its presence, but really enhances the chocolate. This swap was really not too different from Mom’s mocha version where she added 2 tbsp. of instant coffee to the batter and to the buttercream she frosted it with. She loved anything mocha, and definitely wanted the coffee flavor, especially in her buttercream.
My twist was to frost with a simple ganache since I find most frostings too sweet for my taste, and the ganache is just right. But you can still fiddle with the sweet level. I prefer to keep it on the bitter side and use bittersweet chocolate. However, you can use semi-sweet or even milk chocolate depending on how sweet you like things. How did your (grand)mother make it?
I used Droste Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa here because that is what Mom always bought, and what I use for almost everything chocolate. It is darker than natural cocoa, and lends a deep enticing chocolate flavor. I’ve tried lots of cocoa powders, and this is my favorite. If you can find it, use it!
I have quite a few chocolate cake recipes, but this simple one strikes the memory notes which make it a treasure to me.
Mom’s Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake
(with a twist or two)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour or gluten-free baking mix
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa (I used Droste)
- ½ tsp. salt
- 2 ½ tsp. baking powder
- 1 ½ tsp. baking soda
- 1 ½ cup Hellman’s mayonnaise
- 1 ½ cup dark coffee, or water
- 1 ½ cup sugar (1 3/4 cup if gluten free)
- 1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line with parchment, or waxed paper, a 13”X8” baking pan, grease again and dust with cocoa powder.
In a large bowl, sift together: flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and soda.
In another bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, coffee, sugar, and vanilla, and continue whisking until lumps disappear. Add to dry ingredients, and combine until flour is not visible.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pan for five, then turn out. Let it cool completely before frosting.
Glaze with ganache:
Once the cake has cooled, make the ganache.
Bring 6 ounces full-fat coconut milk or heavy cream to a simmer and pour over 8 ounces chocolate chips of choice, I used bittersweet. You can add a tsp. of instant espresso here too to enhance the coffee flavor. Let sit for a couple of minutes, then gently whisk until the chocolate is melted and combined. Let this cool for a few more minutes, then glaze the cake.
You can just glaze it in the pan if you like and cut the squares out, that’s how mom did it! We were too impatient for a fancy cake plate, especially for an after-school snack.
Gluten Free ––
I’ve used King Arthur Gluten-Free Baking Mix measure for measure. However, you will need to increase the sugar by 1/4 cup since it tends to be a little more on the bitter side. I’d also use semi-sweet chocolate in the ganache to balance it out.
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