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Maw Maw's Chocolate Cake with Monica

Updated: Dec 31, 2022

During the holiday season our church's music secretary, Monica Davis, related a story of her grandmother or "Maw Maw" as she called her. Monica's Maw Maw had a staple chocolate cake she made for her grandchildren on her Kentucky farm. The kids would grab a piece and hang over her porch letting the crumbs fall onto the ground to be eaten by Maw Maw's chickens. Maw Maw's recipe, called Mrs. D's French Chocolate Cake, was cut from the Louisville Newspaper in 1948 from a local Kentucky high school bake sale. This is the stuff of Southern culinary legend so I knew Monica needed to be a guest on my vlog.

Monica's grandmother did not ice this cake or remove it from the pans. She "iced" the cake as it was hot simply with a slick of butter and the kids ate the cake more like a piece of cornbread. I would suggest as the original newspaper article says to use your favorite icing. The sponge is nicely balanced and not very sweet so a sugary caramel, rich peanut icing or even a white or chocolate icing with nuts would be fantastic.


1/2 cup powdered baking cocoa

3/4 boiling water

2 cups cake flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup shortening

2 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

3 egg whites


Dissolve 1/2 cup cocoa in 3/4 cup of boiling water. Cool.

Shift and mesure 2 cups of cake flour. Sift three times with 1 teaspoon salt.

With the wire whip attachment, cream 1/2 cup shortening (We used Crisco). Gradually add 2 cups of sugar, creaming thoroughly. Add cooled cocoa mixture to the creamed sugar and shortening.

Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon baking soda in 1/2 cup of sour cream. Add this to the shortening-sugar-shortening mixture.

Gradually add flour in thirds, beating after each addition until the batter is smooth.

Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla and 1 teaspoon of almond extract. (We left out the almond extract as Monica has a severe nut allergy).

Lastly, fold in 3 egg whites that have almost been beaten stiff but not dry.

Bake in two 9" layer cake pans that have been greased and lined with parchment for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

Ice with any kind of fudge or white icing. Mrs. D added raisins and finely chopped nuts to her fudge icing in the original recipe.

Maw Maw's recipe was cut from the Louisville Newspaper in 1948
Maw Maw's recipe was cut from the Louisville Newspaper in 1948

Monica's Maw Maw

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