Chocolate Cake Day
Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
“He showed the words ''chocolate cake' to a group of Americans and recorded their word associations. 'Guilt' was the top response. If that strikes you as unexceptional, consider the response of French eaters to the same prompt: 'celebration.'"
~ Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto
Even though powdered chocolate was made available to cooks by 1828, it was used mostly for drinks. But by 1886, cooks began adding chocolate to the cake batter, to make the first chocolate cakes. The Duff Company of Pittsburgh, a molasses manufacturer, introduced Devil's Food chocolate cake mixes in the mid-1930s, but mass production was put on hold during World War II. After the war, chocolate cake became hugely popular and figured in many recipe books. Additionally, the availability of "cake mixes" from manufacturers such Pillsbury and Duncan Hines made cake baking simple. Do you remember these chocolate cake trends? 1960s "Tunnel of Fudge" Bundt cakes; 1980s Chocolate Decadence cake; 1990s Chocolate Lava cake; 2000s artisan Chocolate Cupcakes; and 2010s Flourless Chocolate cakes and tortes. Whatever your favorite, go ahead! 🍫🍰
Walnut Cake with Chocolate Spread
The history of chocolate cake can be traced back to 1764, when American Dr. James Baker, working with Irish immigrant John Hannon, discovered how to make a usable chocolate by grinding cocoa beans between two massive circular millstones.
By 1828, Conrad Van Houten of the Netherlands had developed another mechanical extraction method for separating the fat from cacao liquor, resulting in cacao butter and partly defatted rock cacao, which could be ground into powder.
A further process for making silkier and smoother chocolate called "conching" was refined in 1879 by a Swiss manufacturer, Rodolphe Lindt. Up until the late 19th century, chocolate had been used mostly as a component for beverages. With the smooth results from conching, chocolate could now be made into bars and other confectionery, without the gritty texture, and smoothly blended with cake batters.
Chocolate cake for the masses was introduced by The Duff Company of Pittsburgh, a molasses manufacturer, who introduced Devil's Food Chocolate and other cake mixes in the mid-1930s, though they didn't become popular or heavily promoted until after World War II. Post war, cake mix popularity saw peaks and valleys as advertisers such as Duncan Hines and Betty Crocker sold the idea of "convenience" mixes for a modern lifestyle and an alternative way of baking from "scratch."
The Devil's Food Chocolate Cake, the counterpart to Angel's Food Cake, originally incorporated additional baking soda to raise the pH level and make the cake a deeper and darker mahogany color. Other Devil's Food Cake recipes involved the use of chocolate baking squares rather than cocoa powder, and/or less eggs to make a dense, deep chocolate cake.
Chocolate Cake recipes and styles change every year ... there is even a current food trend for a healthy low-sugar, dark Chocolate Cake for breakfast!
Here's a delicious classic a Royal Chocolate Walnut Cake from Natasha's kitchen!
Click the picture below for the recipe.