Sunday, July 1, 2012

Aunt Toot's Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting (aka "Dump Cake"!)

My Aunt Toots was my dad's older sister. She was also my godmother. Her real name was Frances, but everybody called her Toots. And she really was a Toots! She had the most mischievous sense of humor, and was always the life of the party. She danced at all the weddings, often with her sister -- my Aunt Sarah -- as her partner. They were so awesome. We used to call them Laverne and Shirley when they'd dance together.

Although she never had much money, she was always the classiest, most elegant, sharp-dressed woman at the party. Her lipstick and nail polish always matched. Her colorful jewelry and shoes and handbag were always perfectly coordinated. And every time I saw her, from as early as I can remember to the very last time I ever saw her, she was always sneaking a couple of dollars in my hand and saying in my ear, "It's not much, but go get yourself a little something, honey." I was in my 30s, married and she was on her deathbed, but she still went into her purse, took out a dollar (may have been her last one) and shoved it in my hand and said "I wish it could be more, honey." I still have that dollar on a shelf in my room.

Every 4th of July, my entire extended family would get together for a big picnic. It was a potluck, and Aunt Toots had some famous dishes. She made the most kick-butt lasagna, homemade cream puffs, and this chocolate cake. She was proud of her cooking. She would often take me by the hand to the table where the food was spread out, and she'd cut me a piece of HER lasagna, making sure to point to the other lasagna at the end of the table and she'd whisper "I didn't make that one. I made THIS one. Here honey, try mine. I'll cut you a little piece." And she'd proceed to cut me a piece the size of an encyclopedia.

And the chocolate cake!! She called it "Dump Cake" because you just dump all the ingredients in a bowl --no sifting, separating wet from dry, and all that jazz. It's an easy cake to make, but tastes like it took hours to put together. It is also one of the moistest cakes around. It is a nice, dense, almost wet crumb, and it melts in your mouth. I always enjoy this cake cold out of the ice box, probably because that is the way she served it when she transported it to the July 4th shindig. This is a fool proof cake, and everytime I make it, I am amazed at how awesome it is. That said, no one's dump cake can compare to Aunt Toot's dump cake. I wish you could have had a piece.

But if you make this recipe, you will come close.  :)

Aunt Toot's actual handwritten recipe


AUNT TOOT'S CHOCOLATE "DUMP CAKE"

3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. pure vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups warm water

Preheat oven to 350 F. Whisk first 6 ingredients in a big mixing bowl. Then add the last 4 wet ingredients and stir a lot more till smooth.

Pour into a Bundt pan or a 13x9 inch cake pan, or two 8-inch cake pans.
Bake for 40-60 minutes. Check with a wooden toothpick around the 30 minute mark to be safe.

Cool cake(s) COMPLETELY and then frost with chocolate frosting. MMMM!

By the way, Aunt Toot's chocolate frosting recipe is lost to the universe, but I use Hershey's classic chocolate buttercream recipe. It reminds me of Aunt Toots' frosting.

HERSHEY'S "PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency.
Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

 
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