In a column I recently wrote on election anxiety, I mentioned that I have a really good recipe for chocolate cake — and now several people have asked me for it.
Come to think of it, it may be a recipe for devil’s food cake, but I never understood the difference between chocolate and devil’s food. Either way, it is a great cake that I make for everyone’s birthday no matter what. It came to me from my mother, Jinx McNamara, who got it from her mother, Mary Ann McNulty, for whom I was named. (I dropped the Ann in second grade, and sometimes deeply regret doing so.)
She was known to her grandchildren as Mae-mae (hence the recipe’s title). Hers is not a recipe I normally share beyond family because, well, every family should have one really great recipe that is all their own. But this has been a very tough year, and a very tough election, and so on the off chance that this cake could make anyone’s life even a tiny bit easier for even a few minutes, here's how to make it.
(Disclaimer: This recipe has not been tested by The Times' Food staff, so if you hate it, it's all on me. But you won't, because Mae-mae knew what she was about.)
Mae-mae’s Birthday Cake
½ cup butter
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking soda
½ cup milk
2 cups flour
½ tsp salt
2 heaping tablespoons cocoa
1 cup boiling water
Cream together butter and sugar, add eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl (I just use the measuring cup) add baking soda to milk and let stand for a few minutes. Then add milk to butter/sugar mixture and mix well. Add flour, salt and cocoa and combine well. Add boiling water and again mix well. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Pour in batter and bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Frost however you want; it does not matter because the cake is the thing.
Share with your shelter buddies or eat alone in the privacy of your own bedroom — whatever gets you through. Repeat as needed.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.