Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Cake Emergency?


My mom passed away almost 4 months ago, and I was fortunate enough to get to go through all of her cookbooks. A bittersweet task, for sure.

After all...my love of cooking, and especially baking, came directly from her kitchen. Growing up and being without extra cash for groceries other than beans, potatoes, and protein, dessert was a once-a-week specialty item, if that. (The cookie jar, however was continually full to the brim. Apparently cookies were not considered dessert. I'll not argue the point...a higher authority has spoken...we'll leave it be.)

Mom had shelves and shelves of books. I quickly learned - leafing through them - that tucked inside each would be several handwritten recipes, or clippings, or tearing-out-of-magazines, and I was discovering what her favorite types of dishes, or secret passions, were:

Zucchini - a whole sweet little notebook filled with recipes taped to the pages. Mushrooms - big circles around every recipe that contained them. Bread - yeast, mostly - gorgeous, giant, country loaves, or dainty rolls that looked like birds.

And amongst all the traditional Betty Crocker, Better Homes & Gardens, and every single Taste of Home ever published were scattered cookbooks picked up from all the places she traveled. Far or near - from Texas to Massachusetts - she snatched one up. Often times, two. And within a few days back from her vacation, I'd get a package in the mail. A loving gift to a fellow cook.

I brought armloads of them back to my house and found one from Sturbridge, Mass. Inside was a recipe for mayonnaise cake. I'd heard of this, but had never made one, so yesterday was the time.

I changed it a little - added some chocolate chips, coffee crystals, and a touch of cinnamon. It's very moist and definitely unique. I have a favorite chocolate cake recipe, and nothing will ever usurp it...so this will be a "snack cake" and it will know it's place - but shall show up, cooling on my counter, several times in the future, I'm sure! (Hon called it Brownies - whatever...doesn't matter in the least!)

What I found entertaining was the commentary beneath the recipe: "This is a wonderful cake to make if you don't have eggs and need a cake for an emergency."

I love it.

Finally, someone is ready to admit there is such a thing...and thankfully, gave a solution to remedy it!!

So...for YOUR next cake emergency - here ya go...


Vegetable cooking spray
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant coffee crystals
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup water OR 1 cup leftover coffee, but omit the crystals
3 tablespoons chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9 inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl whip the mayonnaise, sugar, and vanilla until fluffy. In a small bowl combine the flour, cocoa powder, coffee crystals, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Alternately add the flour mixture and the water to the mayo mixture, beating well after each addition. Fold in chocolate chips.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25-35 minutes or until large moist crumbs are attached to a toothpick when inserted in the middle. Cool on a wire rack and frost if desired.

I served it with Chocolate Whipped Cream: 2 cups sweetened whipped cream with 2 tablespoons chocolate sauce stirred in.


  1. Your mom, what a gem. I know you miss her so much! What a sweet story. The legacy she left you is priceless. I have similar feelings about my grandmother and all of her recipes and scribbled notes.. they are now my treasures. This cake with the curious ingredient of mayo has gotten my attention. Its on my bucket list!

  2. I liked your story...and your blog, fantastic photos and lovely recipes, this one specially, i have heard about it, and if it tastas as good as it looks i am going to bake it for sure,

    cheers from london,


  3. Lovely story of your Mom. :) Thank you for sharing. And these brownies...amazing!

  4. man this sounds super gross...

  5. i'd say that task is the definition of bittersweet. i'm glad you have such wonderful memories (and an awesome cake)!

  6. Thank you for sharing about your Mother. You will always have such warm memories. I grew up in a family of cooks and the best times were always in the kitchen. I have a professional career in pastry for 25 years and I am surrounded by butter, sugar and flour most of the time. It is blissful. The mayo cake looks delicious! I love your blog and your pictures are amazing!

  7. This is one of the most simple but well done sites . Thanx for sharing your life and recipe.
    Trinidad & Tobago

  8. Like Moondust, I really don't know how I feel about the idea of a cake made of mayonnaise, which I can't even stand to eat in 'normal' circumstances, but that cake looks so fabulous I may have to try it, at least once...

  9. What a lovely testament to your Mom.