It’s fast free during Bright Week this week so anything has been going – diet wise. It’s also my mother’s birthday. There’s nothing quite so memorable as to what kind of birthday cake you’re having this year – vanilla round, chocolate, german chocolate, marble, red velvet, buttercream frosting, whipped frosting, ice cream cake. These are questions you’re asked when you go to the local bakery or the bakery of your supermarket to only find you’re more hungrier thinking about eating the cake yourself or how cool it would be to work in a bakery. My family did that on a number of occasions but my grandmother’s cake recipes is the most memorable of all to me.
There was one in particular, it was a heavenly chocolate cake that was simply entitled “delicious chocolate cake” on the index card so you knew with a name like that it had to be good. Grandma’s recipes typically are good – though that’s the funny thing about recipes that came from our grandma…. there’s nothing complex about them and they rarely call for exotic ingredients. Obscure ingredients, odd ingredients that just end up working like some kind of magic maybe.
As I began mixing everything in my mom’s kitchen, I stalled a bit when I saw the recipe called for not just a cup of milk but a cup of sour milk. What?
I do let the occasional thing go bad in my fridge, life just happens, but that almost never happens to be milk plus being plant-based for four years, I’ve grown accustomed to nut milks which tend to have an unusually long shelf life so I never have to worry too much about expiration dates. But I was in my mom and dad’s kitchen where they still always have a container of milk, but always fresh milk. I wouldn’t know where to begin to get sour milk from that and begin to ponder why or what sour milk was used. “Just add a teaspoon of vinegar to it,” my mom suggested as she eyed me baking away after making a passing compliment over how the kitchen smells good. Chocolate always did have that special effect.
But why spoiled milk in a fresh cake? My mom didn’t seem to know and wish I could have asked my grandma but she passed on years ago. I knew my grandma grew up during the Great Depression, unfortunately, like many of of my classmates and friends grandparents that went to high school with me so was it a rationing thing or was it a secret that just made the cake taste extra special?
I had to find out so my modern twenty-first century ways led me to pull up Google on my iPhone to find the answer. Sour milk is actually useful recycled in baking, cooking, cheesemaking, gardening (especially on tomato plants), pet food and for skincare purposes – but as long as it’s not ultra pasteurized (organic milk tends to be ultra pasteurized). If it separates and contains an odor, it’s no good and needs to be thrown out. Otherwise, sour milk is considered to be a leavening agent, that works together with baking soda to produce fluffier cakes and breads.
What produces is the most perfect birthday cake of all time. There’s no frosting recipe with this particular recipe but you could use plain buttercream (use homemade, always) or dust powdered sugar on top. I make peanut butter frosting which combined with the cake is divine. Bring a recipe or two back to life, add in your special touch throughout the years and you have an unforgettable recipe for generations to come.
My Grandma’s Moist Chocolate Cake
3 cups of white flour
2 cups of sugar
1 tsp of
6 tbsp. of Hershey’s cocoa powder
1 cup of vegetable oil
3/4 cup of warm water
2 tsp baking soda
1 cup of sour milk (or add vinegar to fresh milk..the measured portion!)
Sift together 3 cups of flour, 2 cups of sugar, 1 tsp of salt with 6 tbsp. of Hershey’s cocoa powder. Add 1 cup oil, and 3/4 cup of warm water with 2 tsps. of baking soda. Mix well and add two eggs, 1 cup of sour milk and 2tsps of vanilla. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Cake is done when toothpick inserted in cake comes out clean.