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Sweet Octoberfest cake

What’s Cookin’?

By Donna Zitter Bordelon

Octoberfest in Munich is coming to an end but there are plenty of Octoberfest gatherings here in Philly that continue throughout October. Octoberfests offer sausages, pig roasts, weiners, schnitzel, sauerkraut, potato pancakes and beer. What about German Chocolate Cake?

Let’s eat cake!: Celebrate Octoberfest with this recipe for homemade German Chocolate Cake.

But “German Chocolate Cake” is not really a German recipe. Nicht Deutsh! Samuel German, an Englishman, developed the baking chocolate in 1892 for the Baker’s Chocolate Company, which named the product German’s Chocolate in his honor. In 1957, a chocolate cake filled with coconut and pecans won “Recipe of the Day” in Dallas, Texas, under the name “German Sweet Chocolate Cake” — minus the ‘s in German’s. Baker’s Chocolate owner, General Foods, distributed the recipe across America to popularize it. Its German’s Chocolate sales soared, and the cake became known as German Chocolate Cake.

German cakes and pastries are delicious and as famous as German beer. Industrious, hard-working German immigrants opened many bakeries and breweries in Philadelphia. To celebrate their influence, maybe a statue of a big cake should be erected downtown — right next to a beer bottle and pretzel? Let’s eat cake!



1 Tbsp. vinegar plus milk to equal 1 cup Or 1 cup buttermilk

4 oz. German’s Sweet Chocolate (1 package)

½ cup boiling brewed coffee or boiling water

1 cup butter

2 cups sugar

4 eggs, separated, at room temperature

2 tsp. vanilla

2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using a pan bottom as a guide over wax paper, trace around pan to make three wax-paper liners to fit in the bottom of each pan.

Grease 3 9-inch round cake pans. Insert wax paper-liners, and grease pan again.

Into 1 cup, put vinegar and milk. Set aside.

Break up the chocolate into a small bowl, and pour boiling coffee/water over the chocolate. Mix well. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add egg yolks, one at a time, on medium speed.

Add the chocolate and vanilla, scrape bowl, and mix on low.

Sift or mix together flour, baking soda and salt.

On low speed, add flour mixture alternately with the milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Using clean beaters and bowl, beat the egg whites on medium until foamy, then on high, until stiff but not dry.

Gently fold egg whites into chocolate batter using a whisk, just until incorporated.

Divide the batter into three pans. Bake for 35–40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into cakes’ centers comes out clean.

Let cool a few minutes. Run a knife around the pans, invert onto cooling rack, and gently peel off wax paper. Cool completely before adding filling.


1 cup evaporated milk

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup brown sugar

3 egg yolks, slightly beaten

½ cup butter

1½ tsp. vanilla

1½ cups coconut

1 cup pecans, chopped

In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, sugars, yolks and butter.

Cook over medium heat, then medium-low, whisking and stirring until the mixture thickens (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat, add vanilla, then stir in coconut and pecans. Let cool.


½ cup chocolate chips, chopped fine

¼ cup evaporated milk, heated

2 Tbsp. light corn syrup

¼ tsp. Vanilla

Pecan halves/cherries

Put the chocolate in a small bowl. Pour hot milk over chocolate.

Let it sit for a few minutes and whisk together to mix.

Add the corn syrup and vanilla and whisk.


Place the first layer of the cake, wax paper side up, on a serving plate.

Spread one-third of the filling across the cake, continuing to build with layer/filling/layer/filling.

Carefully pour the chocolate glaze slowly around the top perimeter of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides.

Decorate with pecan halves/cherries atop the glaze.


Eat well, live long, enjoy!

(Questions or tips can be sent to Donna Zitter Bordelon at or in care of the Times, 2 Executive Campus, Suite 400, Cherry Hill, NJ 08002)

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