Musical pairing – Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves by Aretha Franklin (with The Eurythmics)

‘An Adventure to the Classics‘ – As kids, my sister and I fell into two camps. I was the adventurous eater, my sister the picky one. I would pile on the spicy Indian sauces whereas my sister wouldn’t eat jelly on her peanut butter sandwiches. I’m sure I made a nuisance of myself as a preachy big sister, always insisting that the broccoli really was good, or that only fraidy-cats wouldn’t try gyros.

Thankfully, she seems to have forgiven my youthful lecturing, and grown out of her pickiness as well. Now just as willing to try new things as I am, my sister in fact sometimes encourages me to try new things. New things that oftentimes seem so simple that I wonder why I’ve never tried them before. New things like chocolate cake.

Of course, I’ve tried chocolate cake. But baking one was a different story––though I’ve stir-fried tofu and made vegan peanut butter cookies, I’d never baked a simple chocolate cake. So when my sister asked me to bake a cake for a party she was throwing with her friends, I went out on a limb and made a classic chocolate cake. The recipe, coming from the cookbook Classic Southern Cakes, requires multiple steps and some patience, but certainly pays off in the end with its rich chocolately flavor and decadent three layers, all tied together with a frothy white cream filling. Perhaps this comes as a no-brainer considering that my culinary venture was a chocolate cake, but the end result was lusciously delicious, and just confirmed how good it is to try something new.


SMITH BITES NOTE: The Professor and I were drooling over this cake so we had to bake one ourselves . . . problem was that it’s just us two chickens here and so we made a half recipe and baked it in two, 6-inch pans . . . the pictures you see in this post are that of the 6-inch cake. While the components of the cake are perfect, getting it assembled was another deal entirely . . . to say that it tested my patience is an understatement . . . it literally fell apart while I was trying to get it frosted, then crumbled as we were taking the photographs. Hats off to Avery for taking this one on as her first attempt at a layer cake!

I learned one trick today that will change how I frost cakes from this point forward. Gail wrote a couple of ‘how-to’ posts on frosting cakes; if you’d like to keep your level of frustration to a minimum, I suggest you click here and here to learn more.

And just for fun, thought we’d share the truth, the whole truth and nothin’ but the truth, so help us Gail . . . this is why you need to read the tutorials above! πŸ˜‰

Avery Olund-Smith is going into her sophomore year at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, where’s she’s studying English. She’s from Cincinnati, Ohio, where she attended the School for Creative and Performing Arts. She loves biking to Findlay Market and writing with the Cincinnati organization Women Writing for (a) Change, and considers food, writing, reading, and the beauties of both the city and the natural world amongst her passions.


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  2. It sounds like one pretty tasty cake to me! πŸ™‚

  3. oooo I think is looks wonderful!!! Even if it did fall down

  4. I am drooling. Just pass that schlumpy chocolate goodness over my way. Yum!

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  6. this looks sinfully delicious! who doesn’t like chocolate cake?! oh my word… and i’m glad you decided to bake it for yourself! πŸ™‚ And the plates are cute, too!

  7. I could dive right into that cake. And I love how lopsided it is. It just makes it that much more delicious looking.

  8. mmmm….is there anything better than a good chocolatey chocolate cake?

  9. As an official taster I can testify that this is one delicious cake!

  10. Oh my goodness! And you do not have the excuse of ‘altitude’ so you need to get some cake attitude going on Deb!

    This cake sounds divine though and the one thing I’ve found…guests are not as judgmental about what I serve them as I am…if it tastes good that’s all that counts to them!

  11. I love how you are keeping it real πŸ™‚
    This looks like a cake worth testing my patience over too!

  12. Well, I think it’s beautiful…flaws and all. You know, my cakes are NEVER beautiful. I just can’t seem to master it. But, EAT them?!? THAT I can do. And this looks scrumptious!

  13. I want that cake now. And, mind you, there’s always cake over here.
    That cake BEGS to be eaten.

    LOVE IT!

  14. Lora @cakeduchess

    Deb- Layer cakes are challenging and especially on hot summer days. I love all the photos and am totally craving a slice. The cake looks so moist and the filling looks divine. Hope you all are having a great weekend. xo

  15. What a beautiful cake! There’s a lot to be said for combining some very common ingredients and turning out a traffic stopping cake.

  16. that old fashioned fudge frosting is a favorite of mine πŸ™‚

  17. I made a birthday cake recently that fell apart literally – just like your above. I refused to even give it to the person it was made for. Went out and bought one!

  18. Amen to the whole truth & nothin but the truth. But ya know what? I was still a beautiful cake!

  19. Sometimes you just need some classic cake. I bet it was delicious! Thank you for sharing the cake, and the process! πŸ™‚

  20. Deb, you do have me laughing but at the same time I often make things less than lovely to look out! I still think that if it tastes scrumptious and is the right texture then it is perfect! Close your eyes and eat….

    Love this recipe! Love the cake!

  21. Well, beauty is fleeting… The inside is what really matters, and it looks DIVINE! Loving the cream filling to cut the chocolate.

  22. Celestial certainly seem like the proper description.
    As a chocolate lover I must say that this recipe looks maverlous and I will make sure to try it in the next few days.
    One little suggestion: for the cream filling; try using pure vanilla seed instead of the extract. It would give a much better taste without the alcool that’s always use in extract. And the tiny seed will also look great in the cake. (for the cake and the fudge, I would stay with the extract since it will blend better with the other components)

  23. Thx Avery and TY Deb I love these series. I just baked a layered cake recently so I understand the challenges and therefore so impressed. Also, I love whipping cream fillings but the challenges are doubled with whipping cream fillings. Got to be so super careful. Gorgeous cake you did so well. I might bake it for my son’s b-day next week.

  24. Forget about assembly. I would eat this with my hands. LOVE.

  25. I am sure your cake tasted just fine:) I wish I had a slice now!

  26. Boy, have I had my share of cakes fall apart on me! I’m not and never will be a baker. I figure if I get it cut and onto a serving plate, no matter how big a mess it is, I’ve done pretty dang good. Despite my lack of baking skills, I think I’m going to have to make one of these cakes. It’s calling me to the kitchen.

  27. If only all food bloggers were as honest in their approach as you. I once made cookies based on the recipe and reputation of one obscenely popular blogger, only to have them fail. Twice. I sent the recipe to a very well-respected baking authority and she explained precisely why the recipe wouldn’t and couldn’t work. Even the blogger’s photos were fudged. It was the second and last try at cooking anything she has to offer.

    However, *this* cake looks delightful, warts and all.


  28. this is a thing of beauty! i am in love with this already:) thank you for sharing and have a great day:)

  29. Beautiful cake!! I bet it tasted fabulous πŸ™‚

  30. Classic Chocolate Cake is what dreams are made of, isn’t it? LOVE!!!

  31. I could care less how chocolate cake looks. The fact that it’s chocolate cake with chocolate frosting is enough for me. I’m with Brian – where’s my slice?

  32. Ahem! Where’s my slice!?! πŸ˜‰

  33. My cake has to be moist for me to be into it. But I think this may be the moistest cake I’ve ever seen. And the cream puts it over the top for me. I’m going to make this for a special someone’s birthday this week : )

  34. Smile. I can relate. I was always the more adventurous eater too. And goodness, this cake looks SPECTACULAR. Great job, Avery. I love making and eating cakes. I’m going to try your chocolate one soon!

  35. Michelle Ledesma (Mac)

    In all of that imperfection is perfection. I adore your tenacity! Looks scrumptious. πŸ™‚

  36. That cake looks so tasty! And, I will admit that the same thing has happened to me when I attempt to stack cakes. There’s a reason I have stopped decorating cakes and started focusing my efforts on cookies! πŸ™‚

  37. vicki silides

    Ha ha ha…initially I thought you ( Deb) were writing about us….you always were more adventurous and I more cautious and picky….I guess many families have the “opposites yet same” in their families. This recipes looks yummy.


  38. Oh I have always believed home made cakes should look home made. Imperfect, inviting and should be chocolate! This looks great, so moist!

  39. This cake is gorgeous! Pure decadence! Both of them!

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