Posted by: Erica Retrochef | September 16, 2013

Eggless Chocolate Cake

For Middle Boy’s birthday, I had him look through all my bookmarked “cake” recipes. It was made more interesting because a search for “cake” includes “pancake” and a few other not-really-birthday things. It took a surprisingly long time, because he wanted them all, and also tended to correlate a small recipe picture with a small cake. Eventually, we narrowed it down to this, because it is (apparently) swirly.



2 squares Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate
1 cup milk
1 3/4 cups sifted Swans Down Cake Flour
3/4 teaspoon soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine chocolate and milk in top of double boiler and cook over rapidly boiling water 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Blend with rotary egg beater; cool. Sift flour once, measure, add soda, salt, and sugar and sift together three times. Cream shortening; add flour mixture, vanilla, and chocolate mixture, and stir until all flour is dampened. Then beat vigorously 1 minute. Bake in two greased and lightly floured 8-inch layer pans in moderate oven (375° F.) 20 minutes, or until done.

Eggless Cocoa Cake. Substitute 1/4 cup Baker’s Breakfast Cocoa for chocolate. Sift cocoa with dry ingredients and add cold milk with vanilla.

Orange Frosting. Combine 1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange rind, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and dash of salt. Add 2 tablespoons hot melted butter or other shortening and beat vigorously 1 minute, adding more liquid, if necessary.


Despite the work required, I really like making cakes from scratch. It’s a lot more ingredients than a boxed mix, but it’s generally worth it.

the dry ingredients

I don’t have the required squares of chocolate, so I’m going to try the cocoa version.


The dry stuff all gets whisked together.


Shortening doesn’t cream quite as nicely as butter (and certainly doesn’t taste as interesting), but it will do.

the wet ingredients

Even well-creamed, however, it’s always difficult to smoothly incorporate lipids and liquids. The best we could get is very tiny bits of shortening in the vanilla-milk mixture, but that should be adequate.

cake pans

Added to the dry ingredients and folded together, we’ve got a lovely chocolate cake batter ready to bake.


While it’s cooking, we started making frosting. To bump up the orange flavor, we included some extract; and since we didn’t have a fresh orange, we used dried zest. So to the sugar and butter, we added 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon orange extract, 1/2 teaspoon dried orange peel, 1/2 teaspoon water.


It came together into a sweet and slightly tart orange butter frosting.


I’m not sure whether this is a small recipe, or the short, un-fluffy cake layers are due to the lack of eggs. Perhaps both? However, while this wouldn’t be enough for a full birthday party, it was plenty for a family-only celebration. It also meant the chocolate flavor was deliciously concentrated, and the thin layer of orange on top was really delightful. This is a good cake for anybody, and would be a great vegan cake (if you use soy or almond milk) or cake for egg allergies. And if we’re ever rationing eggs again, now you know you can still have cake!

Happy Birthday, Bump.

This 1943 recipe came from


  1. This cake looks divine.

  2. This is similar, except for the milk, to the chocolate cake in the Marlboro cookbook from the early 80’s. We’ve made it for over thirty years and it’s always a favorite cake for the family! We can either top with cinnamon sugar, powdered sugar, or go all out and ice it. i’ve eaten it plain with nothing on it and it’s still good. The best way is straight out of the oven with a pat of butter on top.

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