Granny’s Chocolate Cake with Fudge Icing

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon at my grandma’s house learning to make her mom’s Devils Food Cake with Chocolate Fudge Icing.  We made it in a 9×13″ pan, but it also makes a nice round layered cake too (either three 8″ rounds, or two 9″ rounds).  It’s so good!  Here’s how we made it:

Granny’s recipe

For the cake:

2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup butter at room temp

2 eggs

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup buttermilk

pinch of salt

1 cup boiling water

Granny (my great-grandma Ida Mitchell) in her basement kitchen

To start, in an electric mixer we added 2 cups of white sugar to 1/2 cup room temperature butter and beat on medium high until pale yellow and fluffy – about 5 minutes or so.  Then we added two room temperature eggs – one at a time.

Next, we sifted 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour onto a sheet of wax paper and set aside for later.  

It’s all about getting the ingredients clump-free and smooth before mixing everything together.  For the cocoa powder, we made a thick paste by slowly adding water to the dry powder.

1/2 cup dry cocoa powder

Grandma added water (maybe about a Tablespoon or so) gradually to the powder until a smooth paste is formed

Smooth cocoa powder paste

We added the cocoa paste into the sugar-egg mixture and beat until incorporated.  In a separate little bowl, we dissolved the 2 teaspoons of baking soda with a few drop of water – and stirred until completely smooth, and added that to the mixer as well.

1/2 cup buttermilk with a teaspoon of vanilla

As to not over-saturate and break the creamed butter mixture, we added the sifted flour and buttermilk/vanilla in 3 alternating batches (alternating the wet-dry ingredients).  We mixed until just combined. 

After adding the flour and buttermilk mixtures, the batter looks thick like this

Lastly, before pouring the batter into a greased and floured pan, grandma added 1 cup of boiling water to the thick batter.  We stirred until just combined and then poured the now low viscous liquid batter it into the prepared pan.  It baked at 350 deg F for about 30-35 minutes.

How the batter looks after 1 cup of boiling water is added

While the cake baked, we gave the dogs some treats…. 🙂  and started to prepare the fudge icing.

Treats for Lincoln and Tille – leftover fried bacon & Salisbury steak!

Happy girl, Tillie

Fudge icing:

3 cups granulated sugar

2/3 cup cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 cup milk

1/2 stick butter (4 Tablespoons)

1 teaspoon vanilla

For the fudge icing, again grandma was careful no lumps were present.  We mixed 3 cups of white sugar with 2/3 cups cocoa powder and stirred until completely smooth. 

Sugar & cocoa powder stirred until smooth

We added about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1-1/2 cups of whole milk to the pot and stirred until smooth. Then we set the pot on the stove-pot over very low heat.  We allowed this mixture to slowly come to a low simmer, stirring minimally, and rise to soft-ball stage.  (About 235-245 deg F).

Once the icing was done cooking, we took it off the stove and allowed it to cool to almost room temperature.  We added in 1/2 stick of butter and about a teaspoon of vanilla.

Grandma stirred the icing until it thickened to spreading consistency

We spread the icing over the cooled cake starting at one end of the pan.  Grandma would occasionally add a little milk to the icing to keep it spreadable.  (It thickens up pretty quickly.)

Fudge icing going on the cake!

The cake will keep like this for a few days – and actually it will be better if it sits for a day or two with the icing on it like this, covered with an air-tight cover.   

The finished product!


4 thoughts on “Granny’s Chocolate Cake with Fudge Icing

  1. Karla in CA

    The photo of the cake made my mouth water but it was the photo of your Grandma’s well used recipe cards that made my heart sing! I have my Grandmother’s recipe cards in my lock box in my safe… that is how precious and valuable they are to me.

    I bet “baby” is really enjoying that cake. Energy boost for what is to come.

    Best wishes!


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