Mar 13

Small Chocolate Cake Recipe From My Mother’s Vintage Cookbook

Many of our guests are coming to stay at the Habberstad House Bed and Breakfast to celebrate a special occasion, like an anniversary, birthday, honeymoon, getting engaged, even getting divorced (rare). Sometimes they want flowers, a bottle of champagne or a favorite bottle of wine , and we have our Romance Package, which includes those things. But sometimes just a small cake will do the trick. I used to get them from Brett, our pastry chef downtown at the Pastry Shoppe, which he does a nice job with, adding those professional patterns of buttercream frosting. I must admit that he is not always the most reliable, however, because he tends to forget, or even worse, writes the wrong frosting name on the cake. Like the time he made the cake for Mark but wrote “Happy Birthday Steve” on it. Mark happened to be married to a good friend of ours, so we took the chance at the last minute, hoping they’d get a kick out of it, and had Brett put a big “X” through the name Steve, and write “Mark” above it. It turned out great, with a lot of laughter, and a delicious cake to boot.

As an alternative to Brett’s small loaf-sized personal cake, I am making the “Small Chocolate Cake” that I first made when I was 14 years old. The recipe comes from the St. Mark’s Lutheran Church Clover Leaf Cookbook, from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. It was my mother’s cookbook, very well-used, published in 1948. This book is actually available on a vintage books website in Canada, and I’m about to place an order for it! I’m so excited to have a usable copy because it is imbued with so many memories for me.

This recipe is so easy! My mother baked it in a bread-loaf pan, which is the perfect size for a couple celebrating that special occasion. A butter-cream frosting will work well, and if you have some frosting tips in your kitchen, you can spoon the frosting into a zip-lock plastic bag, cut the corner off the far end and squeeze a written message out onto the finished product. A personalized small cake is a lovely and inexpensive gift from you to your guests as they are being shown their room or placed there for when they return from having had dinner out at a restaurant. You can charge for it, or not…

Here is the recipe as it appears in the cookbook. I used to grease the loaf-pan and fit wax paper that I cut to size inside the pan so that the cake slipped out easily. Nowadays I just use baking spray. The recipe is provided by Mrs. (Florence) Huehn, who was my mother’s matron of honor at her wedding to my father.


1 egg
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/3 cup cocoa
3 tbsp. lard or butter
1 cup boiling water

Beat egg. Cream with cocoa, sugar and shortening. Add dry ingredients and lastly boiling water. Bake at 350 to 400 deg. F., for 20 to 25 minutes.
Mrs. H. Huehn