Maw Maw’s German Chocolate Cake

5 08 2014

My Mom’s birthday party pictured below would have been on a hot August day in the hill country of Texas with all the children dressed in their Sunday best. I asked Mom if she remembered how old she was in this picture and she knew she was five. Shirley Temple had a new movie out, Curley Top, and her mother made her a dress fashioned after the one Shirley wore in the movie. Mom says she remembers it clearly because Shirley’s dress was made from silk and lace, while hers was made from pale pink organdy and was stiff, puffy and itchy. I wonder what cake my Maw Maw would have made her little girl dressed in her pretty, but uncomfortable Shirley Temple dress.

My Mother’s Fifth Birthday—August 5, 1933

Jimmie Dee— My Mother’s Fifth Birthday—August 5, 1933

Curley Top

Shirley Temple dancing in Curley Top

Decades have come and gone since this picture. This August Mom turns 86. I recently heard someone ask her if she was named after her Dad since her name is Jimmie. “No”, she proudly said, “I’m named after my Mom and my brother is named James!” Until I heard it said, I never thought about how unique that was.

I do know that having my grandmother, Jimmie Corrine’s recipes, her cooking tools and her dishes are a unique treasure from my history. I began my yearly ritual for my mom’s birthday and went through my grandmother’s handwritten recipes. I like to give my mom a taste of her childhood for her birthday. This is a cake I’ve never made. It’s not hard, but it is involved and has taken all afternoon. I even baked it in the heart shaped pans that three generations have used to bake cakes in. I know this cake is made with the love, just as it was back when Shirley Temple was dancing her way into this country’s heart.

Jimmie Corrine—My Grandmother's Handwritten Recipe

Jimmie Corrine—My Grandmother’s Handwritten Recipe

German Chocolate Cake

German choc cake

1/2 cup boiling water
4 (1 ounce) squares German sweet chocolate
1 cup softened, unsalted butter
2 cups white sugar
4 egg yolks, unbeaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
4 egg whites, stiffly beaten

1. Melt chocolate in boiling water in saucepan, let cool.
2. Sift flour with soda and salt in it’s own bowl.
3. Beat egg whites until stiff (it will form peaks like a meringue).
4. Cream butter until light and fluffy. Add each egg yolk one at a time, beating after each. Add vanilla and cooled chocolate. Mix until well blended.
5. Alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk into batter, beating after each addition.
6. After batter is smooth, fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites.
7. Pour into 3 9-inch layer pans that are greased and floured.
8. Bake at 360° for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool on cake rack.

Coconut and Pecan Frosting
1 cup white sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
3 egg yolks, beaten
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cups flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans

Combine and cook sugar, evaporated milk, butter, beaten eggs and vanilla over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens (about 12 minutes). Remove saucepan from heat. Stir in coconut and pecans. Cool completely, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

To assemble
Trim off the “dome” of the bottom 2 layers to help level the cake. Make sure the cake and frosting are completely cooled. Put icing between the layers and as Maw Maw made note, do not frost side of the cake.

Enjoy! Other recipes you may like:

Maw Maw’s Hot Milk Cake

Maw Maw’s Cocoon Cookies

Maw Maw’s Fresh Apple Cake

I honor my maternal lineage: I am Connie Lee, daughter of Jimmie Dee, daughter of Jimmie Corrine, daughter of Minnie Mae; mother of Jade Lee-Mei.




22 responses

5 08 2014
Suzanne Robertson

What sweet memories, I loved reading your post. German Chocolate cake is my FAVORITE. Its a truly from “scratch” recipe hurrah!

5 08 2014

Thanks Suzanne! It’s a delicious cake! And yes, it’s truly from scratch.

5 08 2014
Helene Cohen Bludman

I love your posts about your Maw Maw’s recipes. German Chocolate Cake is such a favorite in my family. Next time I make it, I’ll use your recipe!

5 08 2014

Helene, it’s time consuming, but worth it. Thanks for stopping by.

5 08 2014

Happy Birthday to your mom – the cake sounds – and looks – scrumptious!

5 08 2014

I’ll tell her you said Happy Birthday!

5 08 2014

The Jimmies are unusual names for the time and even now for girls. I love old fashion recipes like this. Buttermilk is often used and the sweet chocolate, your Mother would be surprised at the cost and the small packaging available now! Thanks for sharing.

5 08 2014

Haralee, the Swan’s flour I used was from the 1800’s and the Baker’s chocolate was from the 1700’s. That we probably used the same brands in baking was a connection that I didn’t expect. Thanks for commenting.

5 08 2014

I love how you write about your heritage, Connie, which is so important. I recently had my dad write out the family tree that he remembers before he escaped Germany.

Your mom is blessed for having you and your baking gifts! Yum. Did you save a piece for me?

Happy Birthday to you mom! xo

5 08 2014

Cathy, I certainly ate a piece for you!!! I appreciate your sweet comment.

5 08 2014
Carol Cassara (@ccassara)

how lovely! it’s hubby’s fave, as well. bookmarking the recipe.

5 08 2014

It’s yummy, but time consuming. Let me know if you make it!

5 08 2014

That looks way beyond the scope of my cake-making talents, but yum! What a sweet (in more ways than one) memory-filled post!

5 08 2014

It was definitely an involved cake to make. Not really difficult but it had many steps. It was yummy and my mom loved it.

5 08 2014

mmmm, this sounds wonderful! I love hearing the story behind the recipe. 🙂 Thank you, and happy birthday to your mom!

6 08 2014

Thanks Esther. Mom had a great bday and loves reading all the comments!

9 08 2014

I LOVE this! Memories of parents and grandparents are my favourite! Ohh, that cake looks and sounds divine!

10 08 2014

Thanks! I’m so lucky to have some vintage photos as well as the handwritten recipes.

28 08 2014
Jayne Thibodeaux

Miss Connie, every year for my birthday my mother made me a homemade German chocolate cake as well. Oh how I wish she was here, for me to tell her you did this for your mama.
Tonight, I will be making one for Jacques birthday tomorrow, without the pecans since he’s allergic. Just another thing we have in common! Love and miss y’all… xxo

28 08 2014

Extra big hugs and love to Jacques on his birthday!!

31 12 2014

I love German Chocolate Cake, and that looks absolutely amazing! I also love the story and photos – very cool!

31 12 2014

Thanks Lynne. it is delicious!

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