FDR’s Birthday Cake (Basic Chocolate Cake Recipe)
Full disclosure: This post has nothing to do with politics, but rather my fascination with presidential history and the lives of certain historical figures. Cake is independent of politics.
You can skip ahead to the cake recipe if you want. It’s a no-frills chocolate cake recipe that makes a great birthday cake. I know because I made my own birthday cake this year!
Otherwise, keep reading to find out what inspired this cake recipe.
Why I Made FDR’s Birthday Cake
I’m a bit of a presidential history buff.
Last month, I visited Ulysses S. Grant’s home in Galena, Illinois. In the gift shop, they were selling copies of The First Ladies’ Cookbook, a collection of recipes from each of the First Ladies of the United States.
Being a lover of vintage recipes, presidents and First Ladies, I had to pick up a copy.
One recipe in particular stuck out to me: Franklin’s Birthday Cake, by Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.
Historic recipes give us a glimpse into the past, and in this case, a peek into the lives of two fascinating 20th Century American figures.
Fun fact: Did you know that Eleanor Roosevelt was one of the first supporters of home economics movement? One of her goals was to prove that healthy, inexpensive food didn’t have to be bland and flavorless. This was a noble goal in the depression era, and one I can get behind today!
However, she wasn’t known for her culinary skills. Ernest Hemingway was once invited to dinner at the White House, and claimed that the food he was served was some of the worst he had ever eaten. Some of her infamous dishes included:
- Spaghetti with boiled carrots and white sauce
- Deviled eggs with tomato sauce
- Prune whip
Despite all this, her chocolate cake recipe was quite tasty.
About The Recipe
- The cake: This cake is sweet, dense, and not-too-chocolaty. The coffee doesn’t add coffee flavor to the recipe, it just enhances the chocolate flavor. Side note: If I made this recipe again, I might try dividing the batter in half and making a layer cake.
- The frosting: The cookbook doesn’t mention frosting, but I thought maple buttercream would be nice. Upstate New York, where the Roosevelts lived, has no shortage of maple producers.
- The caramelized sugar glaze: Caramelizing sugar is very easy to do, and adds a really unique component to desserts. I drizzled the top of the cake with the glaze, and made a few larger pieces to put on top. The caramelized sugar is almost like a lollipop.. hard and sweet.