Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Lost Recipe

Usually, anyone who grows up around their parents has many and various stories of "when I was young" thrust upon their eardrums at regular intervals until none of them are new any more and they begin to repeat. Myself, I am no stranger to these and have heard ample amounts remembering most of them by heart. Some I have grown accustomed to enduring because they simply can't be helped, and others I tend to say "yes yes, you told me this before", because *I* can't be helped.

However, there's always a story or two that you don't mind and you wish had more details. One such story is of my Mother's parents running a restaurant in the early 50's. My Mom recalls how things were, the sounds, the smells, the cooking, the customers. She has been repeating this along with a strong desire to reclaim the lost recipe of a particular cake my Grandmother used to make and sell out of, on a daily basis. This is an infamous cake in our house and she fairly makes our mouths water to hear of its deliciousness. It was called something like "A Chocolate Mocha Layer Cake with Custard Filling".  Having her tell us the whole ordeal of watching her Mother make it for the umpteenthmillionth time, I couldn't take it any longer. I decided to take things into my own hands.

Since then I have been on the search for a recipe that seems to resemble what she remembers Grandma putting together, but she was such a young girl, it's hard for her to say. While the custard filling between the layers is undeniable, the cake and frosting are up in the air.

The custard was a deep yellow, cooked with cornstarch and made with a genuine vanilla bean.

The cake was two layers, believed to have been a butter cake, not oil, made with unsweetened bakers chocolate, not cocoa. She remembers seeing Grandma make coffee for some part of it, but not sure if it was for the cake or the frosting. It is also possible that she whipped her egg whites and folded them into the batter because she remembers seeing cream of tartar out (which helps stabilize egg whites when whipped). Additionally it may have been made with buttermilk.

The frosting was a definite buttercream as the cake had to be refrigerated or it would melt. She doesn't remember seeing cocoa powder used at any point and thinks that maybe semi-sweet squares were used in the frosting. I am inclined to think that the coffee was for the frosting which is what made it all Mocha.

Sounds delish, right? Well! I intend to get to the bottom of this, even if I have to bake 100 different cakes over time. Heh Heh Heh. Any clues or suggestions would be helpful. And yes, you can have some cake too.

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