Chocolate Layer Cake (1914) ★★★

Whenever I need fresh lemon juice, I zest the lemon first and keep the peel in the freezer for later use. It's a great way to keep zest on hand, but the result is that I have accumulated about half a cup of zest! Not wanting it to go to waste, I searched for a historical recipe to use up some of my zest and found this one. It actually calls for citron, which is citrus peel preserved in sugar, but I figured zest is pretty similar, not to mention easier to acquire.
This recipe calls for frosting the cake with chocolate frosting, but didn't include a recipe, so I took the frosting recipe from another cake recipe in the same cookbook.

The Verdict:
With the first bite I didn't like this. But after a few bites I didn't mind it. It's about average. I asked Mr. Man, "Is this better or worse than a boxed cake mix?" and he said, "Better than some; worse than others." Flavour-wise, I didn't really like the spice/walnut cake with the chocolate frosting. And I didn't like the combination of jam I used (strawberry). I think maybe orange or lemon filling would be best, but unfortunately I hate citrus + chocolate. Cherry may work well too. Oh, and the chocolate frosting didn't make nearly enough, so I had to double it. So overall, alright. I will eat the rest, but probably won't make this again, mostly because it's a bit time consuming with just an average taste. 

Modernized Recipe:
(Adapted from The Neighborhood Cook Book)

Chocolate Layer Cake
1/4 cup UNSALTED BUTTER, softened
4 EGGS, separated
1 cup SUGAR
1 teaspoon ALLSPICE
1 teaspoon CINNAMON
1 teaspoon CLOVES
3/4 cup CHOCOLATE (CHIPS), finely chopped
5 tablespoons BOILING WATER
1 cup FLOUR
1 1/2 teaspoons BAKING POWDER
1 tablespoon ORANGE and LEMON ZEST
1/2 cup WALNUTS, chopped

Chocolate Frosting
4 tablespoons CHOCOLATE (CHIPS), finely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 350F and grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans.
2. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, egg yolks, and sugar until well combined. Add in the vanilla, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves.
3. In a small bowl, mix the boiling water and chopped chocolate (or use chocolate chips) and stir until combined. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites until stiff. Set aside.
4. When the chocolate is cooled, add to the batter, along with the flour, baking powder, zest, and walnuts. Mix well. Lastly, gently fold in the stiff egg whites.
5. Separate the batter into the two prepared pans and bake for about - minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
6. Let the cakes cool and stack them on a plate or cake stand with jelly/jam in between the two layers. Top with the chocolate frosting, made from chocolate dissolved in boiling water and mixed with powdered sugar.

Anje graduated with a Honours Bachelors degree in History with a minor in Museum Studies. She currently lives and works in Japan's least populous prefecture as an assistant English teacher.


  1. I love food history & I'm so glad I found your site ... Just subscribed to your email updates & can't wait to see what your next post will be :-)

  2. This is gorgeous and looks delicious! I love layer cakes with delicious fillings and chocolate is my favorite. Very fun!