My Dad grew up in Queens and my Grandpa Al, as stories say, “had a bakery for every cake” he loved. One of those bakeries was Ebinger’s and the cake in question, “Blackout Cake”. Ebinger’s went bankrupt in the early 70’s but the brand was revived in the late 70’s and then sold to Entenmann’s shortly thereafter. Entenmann’s made a blackout cake that my Dad couldn’t get enough of. My Mom had a deep freezer in the basement where she would store meats, her homemade chicken stock, loaves of bread and the like. My Dad had a corner of that deep freezer that was solely devoted to blackout cake. He would stock 20 at a time…maybe more…combined with his obsessive stockpiling of Dr. Brown’s Black Cherry Soda – the scary, unfinished stone basement of my childhood home became a place where caffeine-fueled, sugar-rush chocolate dreams became reality.
Then, the unthinkable happened. Entenmann’s retired Blackout Cake. THE HORROR. The day my Dad could no longer stockpile Blackout Cake was a sad day indeed.
Skip to this weekend. My Dad turned 60 (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD!) this past week and I wanted to do something both sentimental and monumental to celebrate. He was pretty adamant that he didn’t want much fanfare for his 60th and maintained that it should be ‘family only’. I wracked my brain and then my “aha!” moment came. What better way to help him ring in his 60th year than by recreating a favorite cake of his that he can no longer get his hands on!
I researched a ton of of recipes (sadly, Entenmann’s Big Book of Baking, which I happen to own, does not include a blackout cake recipe). There are many recipes out there that indicate they are based on Ebinger’s old recipe, but from my understanding, those recipes were never released before the bakery went under. So I had to be sure that the descriptions and related pictures of recipes were true to how I could remember the cake. There were a couple recipes that tried to sell the idea that the pudding filling would be “runny” but that was how it should be. FALSE! I remember the pudding was thick (and the best part of the whole cake) and chocolate-y). I would accept nothing less.
I finally found a winner and decided to have at it! You can find the recipe I used here: BLACKOUT CAKE
A couple things I learned in the making of this cake.
1. Pre-measure your ingredients out for making the cake and the frosting. It would have been super helpful had I done that. This cake batter is done entirely by hand mixing, over heat, in a sauce pan. I have never made a cake batter this way and I feel I could have done a better job at incorporating the ingredients in a timely fashion had they been pre-measured. Same with the frosting. When you are working over heat, always best to get things done quickly and efficiently.
2. Although the recipe doesn’t call for it, I would recommend sifting the dry ingredients and gradually adding them into the wet ingredients. My flour didn’t fully incorporate and made my batter kind of lumpy.
3. I would double this recipe (at least double the pudding part). There was not enough pudding AT ALL. I need more pudding! The pudding was absolutely delicious and the easiest part of the cake to make. I wish I could have doubled the amount in-between the layers, or doubled the number of layers.
This wasn’t a hard recipe to follow, but it is very labor intensive. It took me the better part of 2 1/2 hours from start to finish. Was it worth it, you ask?
When I plopped that cake down in front of my Dad, his eyes went wide and he said, “Oh Wow!” And when he cut into it and had his first taste, he said, “It’s just how I remember!”
The next morning, I came down to the kitchen and he was eating it for breakfast. Just like when I was a kid. <3