World Upside Down Chocolate Cake

When the weather gets really cold and the ponds freeze over – which doesn’t happen every winter – it’s time to think of post-skating snacks.

One year when I lived on a pond there was an early deep freeze and the pond stayed frozen most of the winter. And everyone came to skate. Which was great fun….except

I’m  no Peggy Fleming

Peggy Fleming

Peggy Fleming

nor I am I ever mistaken for Dorothy Hamill

Dorothy Hamill

Dorothy Hamill

and certainly no Michele Kwan.

Michelle Kwan

Michelle Kwan

No, there are no Blades of Glory in my story

Will Ferrell and Jon Heder

Will Ferrell and Jon Heder

I spend a whole lot of time on the ice…ON the ice.

This is pretty much my best skating figure..OK, Maybe not quite this graceful

This is pretty much my best skating figure, The World Upside Down. OK, Maybe not quite this graceful

The end result of all the time demonstrating gravity is that I would get really cold and tired very quickly…and then retreat to the warm kitchen to make snacks for everyone else. And what better to fortify and recover and generally make a good day/night of it all then something chocolate?

Long before there was chocolate lava cakes, there was chocolate upside down cake.

Pyrex Baking pan in Fireside - this color was introduced in 1977 and I have lots of it. There was a discount store in Cordage Park for cut rate Pyrex and Corelle

Pyrex Baking pan in Fireside – this color was introduced in 1977 and I have lots of it. There was a discount store in Cordage Park for cut rate Pyrex and Corelle


1 cup sifted flour*

¼ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 ¼ cups granulated sugar**(divided)

7 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa***(divided)

¾ cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons melted butter

½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans****(optional)

½ cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 cup water

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease an 8” square baking pan.
  2. Sift the flour, salt, baking powder, ¾ cup granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons in a bowl.
  3. Mix in the milk and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the melted butter (add nuts)
  4. Spread evenly in the prepared pan.
  5. In a saucepan, mix the brown sugar, water and remaining granulated sugar and cocoa.
  6. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugars dissolve. Pour over the batter in the pan.
  7. Pop the whole thing – without a last little stir – into the hot oven.
  8. Go about your business for a little while. Smile and start humming little snatches of favorite songs as the smell sugar and chocolate start to fill the air.
  9. Since I usually use a glass (Pyrex) pan I start checking at ½ hour, (theoretically, you could lower the temp by 25°, but I’m a little bit impatient!)and of course the actual timing will vary with your oven.   The original recipe says 40 minutes, but 30-35 has been more my history with it, and that’s with multiple ovens. A cake tester should come out clean.
  10. Cool on a cake rack for 20 minutes, then turn out, bottoms up and the fudgy sauce will now be on the top.
  11. The original recipe says cool and then cut into 2 inch pieces, but I have never once done that. Start serving, warm, at the 20 minute mark. Sometimes I just spooned it out of the pan into bowls, not pretty, but pretty darn good.

* I stopped sifting flour for all but the finest of baking projects sometime during the Ford administration. This cake doesn’t really require sifting with most commercial flours.

**I’m pretty sure I’ve cut back in this sugar, but since I didn’t write it down…it just seems awfully sugary.

***Hershey’s  will do. They’ll be cold and it the warmth (and butter) that will make the difference.

****Nuts are optional – and almonds are nice, too. Or a little grated orange rind. Or some very finely cut candied ginger or dried apricots. When I made this cake a lot, I made it A LOT and was always looking for something interesting to toss in.

Myra Waldo. Cakes, Cookies, and Pastries. Galahad Books, NYC reprinted with permission from Crowell-Collier Publishing. 1962. Third printing 1970. p. 19.

There is a similar upside down chocolate cake in the King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cook Book, too

I’m not at all sure when or why I got this cookbook – except that it was before 1982 and survived my cookbook purge.

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Filed under Books, Recipe, The 1980's

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