Tutti Fruiti Cake

The Recipe Box

Chocolate cherry cake was just one of grandmother's treats

Karen Maihofer’s grandmother, Edna Baumann, loved to bake. At Christmas, it was her schaum torte, which “turned out like marshmallow inside and light brown and crusty outside.” Other times it might be doughnuts or baked goods made with yeast. Then there was this chocolate cherry-date cake.

“She made that cake a lot because my uncle, who was her son, was single and lived with her and he loved the maraschino cherries,” wrote Maihofer, who lives in Cedarburg and who for decades taught cooking classes under the name Creative Cuisine.

“I do not know the origin of the recipe,” she continued. “I am guessing it was handed down to her from her mother, who lived with my grandma also.”

Maihofer’s kids don’t like dates or maraschino cherries, so she makes another cake of her grandmother’s, a plain chocolate cake in 13-by-9-inch pan.

“We just call it Grandma's chocolate cake,” Maihofer said. “All of my kids and granddaughters have the recipe, but there is a secret ingredient in it that makes it so good. I probably have a million recipes, but it is the one that neither I, nor any of my family, will give out.”

Her grandma was “a formidable woman,” Maihofer said, “probably tipping the scales at over 200 pounds. She lived to be 80 and I always feel I got my love of cooking from her.

“I used to go to her house almost every weekend to cook, and we made homemade noodles from scratch (no food processors or pasta machines in those days) for her chicken noodle soup she made every January 1st for her birthday, when she invited at least 30 people for dinner,” Maihofer remembered. “Besides her soup, she made a turkey, a goose and ducks and all the trimmings. And when it was over, everyone got a doggie bag to take home.

“I do recall her telling me that if you didn't have leftovers for folks to take home, you didn't prepare enough food. And that stuck with me forever!”

Her grandma loved her sweets. Maihofer recalled her once sitting down and eating a whole pound of fairy food.

“She used to say at her age she didn't care what she ate.”

The Recipe Box is an ongoing series showcasing old family recipes, and the stories behind them, submitted by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel readers. Read them all at jsonline.com/recipebox.

This is a very moist, heavy cake, says Maihofer.

Tutti Fruiti Cake

Recipe tested by Nancy Stohs

Makes 18 servings

  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 ½ cups sour cream
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 jar (10 ounces) maraschino cherries, cut in half, juice reserved
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 cup chopped toasted almonds
  • 1 cup chopped dates

Grease and flour a 13-by-9-inch pan.

In a mixer bowl, beat butter with sugar until fluffy. Add the egg yolks and beat until light. Add sour cream and melted chocolate.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour with baking soda and baking powder. Add to wet mixture in three increments. Add vanilla and cherry juice.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a separate bowl, mix vinegar with the 3 egg whites and beat until stiff peaks form (they will be a wet stiff); do not overbeat. Fold into cake mixture. Finally, fold in cherries, almonds and dates.

Transfer batter to prepared pan and spread even. Bake in preheated oven 45 to 55 minutes until it tests done. Cool and then sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

(Or, if desired, frost with a chocolate frosting.)

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