A 5-Star German Chocolate Cake Recipe & A Little Personal History

The first cake I ever made was at age 12 when I made a German Chocolate cake from scratch. For many, this wouldn’t be a significant milestone, but in my house where my mother didn’t cook or bake at all and my dad’s time in the kitchen was limited to Saturday morning breakfasts, my making a scratch cake was quite a feat. Even our housekeeper and cook, Lorene Massey, didn’t make any desserts besides jello (at least in our house) so I was on my own. I believe I had requested a Betty Crocker cookbook for Christmas, which I may have been referencing, but I honestly can’t remember. The bottom line is that my first German Chocolate cake turned out wonderfully well and was readily consumed by my hungry brothers and their friends. So readily that I didn’t make another scratch cake on my own until I was out of the house and in college. I was a little shocked that all that work could result in almost instantaneous consumption.

Once I gave up refined sugar shortly after I married Ray in 1980, I had to learn to make my own sweets if Ray and I were going to have anything decent to eat. At that time, we lived on a farm in Ravenna, Texas, which was a good 75 miles from Dallas, the only place where we could find a decent health food store. At that point, Ray and I both baked a fair amount. This had a lot to do with our serious sweet tooths, which, of course, we still have. However, during those years, we were raising three kids, had our restaurant decor business and were traveling a lot in search of antiques and collectibles. While we did bake, neither of us had the luxury of being particularly serious about it.

Fast forward to the past few years. Now, I have the time to actually indulge in what has become a baking passion. I love cooking in general and baking in particular, especially if my sweets are going to be shared with others. Ray is always a ready and willing recipient, of course, which means my work never goes unappreciated. With that motivation in mind, I bake routinely and love every minute of it.

Today, I thought of that long-ago German Chocolate cake and decided it was time to make another one. Ray was especially happy with this idea since the last one he ate was one he made himself quite a few years back. I am happy to say that he was very pleased with the outcome of this cake as was our daughter Rachael. Both said it was rich and delicious. That’s all I need to hear in order to be motivated to keep on baking.

I took the recipe below from Lauren Allen’s website https://tastesbetterfromscratch.com/german-chocolate-cake/. This recipe calls for refined sugar, but I have put my substitutions in parentheses for those who would prefer a non-refined sugar alternative. I used honey and maple sugar.

As always, please let me know if you try this recipe. I always love to hear how the recipes I love turn out for you.

I’ll be checking back in again tomorrow. Stay safe out there.

Ingredients

For the Chocolate Cake:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar (I use 1 1/2 cup honey)
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I used reconstituted nonfat dried milk)
  • 1/2 cup oil (vegetable or canola oil or coconut oil)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

For the Coconut Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar (I used 1/2 cup honey)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (I used 1/2 cup maple sugar)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk (which is unsweetened)
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut

For the Chocolate Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 cups powdered sugar (I used 3/4 cup honey)
  • 1/3 cup evaporated milk (This is the remainder of the can)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Heat oven to 375°F. Grease two 8 or 9-inch round baking pans. I spray with cooking oil, but sometimes cut a round piece of parchment paper for the bottom of the pan also, to make sure the cake comes out easily.

For the Cake:

  • Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. In a separate bowl combine the eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla and mix well. (If using honey, then add it in with the wet ingredients and omit the sugar). Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Stir in boiling water (batter will be very thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
  • Bake for 25 – 35 minutes (depending on your cake pan size. The 9” pan takes less time to bake) or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean or with few crumbs. Cool 5 minutes in the pan and then invert onto wire racks to cool completely.

For the coconut frosting:

  • In a medium saucepan add brown sugar, granulated sugar (or honey and maple sugar), butter, egg yolks, and evaporated milk. Stir to combine and bring the mixture to a low boil over medium heat. Stir constantly for several minutes until the mixture begins to thicken. 
  • Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, nuts and coconut. Allow to cool completely before layering it on the cake.

For the Chocolate Frosting:

  • Melt butter. Stir in cocoa powder. Alternately add powdered sugar (or honey) and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed to thin the frosting, or a little extra powder, until you reach your desired consistency. Stir in vanilla.

Cake Assembly:

  • Place one of the cake rounds on your serving stand or plate. 
  • Smooth a thin layer of chocolate frosting over the cake layer, and then spoon half of the coconut frosting on top, spreading it into a smooth layer. Leave about 1/2 inch between the filling and edge of cake. 
  • Stack the second cake round on top. Smooth chocolate frosting over the entire cake.
  • Spoon remaining coconut frosting on top of the cake. 

4 Comments Add yours

  1. judyalter says:

    When my parents tasted the first chocolate cake I made, at about age nine, they both looked horrified. Mom asked, “How much baking soda did you use?” I replied confidently, “Nine teaspoons.” Mom looked and sure enough, it was a typo in the recipe. I just wasn’t smart enough about baking to realize what that much soda would do to a cake. Needless to say, we threw it out.

    1. Teresa Lynn says:

      Oh, my goodness, Judy, what a story!

  2. Ha! Very funny. Nonetheless, you have kept at it!

  3. Teresa Lynn says:

    Thanks for posting this with the substitutions. Trying to do better with what goes in…

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