11 January 2010

Family recipe Monday: Mineola black coffee cake

Mineola is a town in Texas, east of Dallas and northwest of Tyler, famous for lumber and watermelons. It's also a town in New York, in Missouri, in Iowa, is an old-fashioned girl's name, and is a citrus fruit to boot. I am assuming that this recipe is somehow associated with someone in Mineola, TX, it being the closest potential connection, but as far as I know no one in the family has ever been there other than in passing. I suppose it's obvious that this is a popular family recipe; you can almost read the card through the spatters. The cake recipe is on the front of the card; the icing, on the back.

Cooks in my great-grandmother's tradition pulled out all the stops in making desserts. Her claim to fame lay in being able to make an angel-food cake in a wood stove. This is the first recipe I can clearly remember cooking under my mother's guidance; I vividly remember alternating the coffee and flour and watching the batter take shape in the mixer.

It is a layer cake, not a breakfast-style coffee cake; in this case, the name means that it is made with a full cup of cold strong coffee. The cocoa is cocoa powder, a half cup of it. The icing is a chocolate fudge icing. This is not a cake intended to cure insomnia. You may be wired for hours....

My mother's directions below are slightly different (and clearer) than the ones on the card.

Mineola black coffee cake
2 cups sugar
½ cup cocoa
¾ cup Crisco
1 cup cold strong coffee
2 cups flour
4 eggs
1 tsp baking soda dissolved in 2 tsp water
Pinch salt
2 tsp vanilla

Cream sugar, cocoa and Crisco together. Alternate flour and coffee. Add eggs, one at a time. Add soda water, salt, and vanilla. Beat well for 2 minutes. Add nuts, if desired. Bake in 450 F oven for 10 minutes, then lower temperature to 375 F and bake for 5 minutes more.

Chocolate icing (Grandmother's fudge icing)
2 cups sugar
1 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2/3 cup canned milk (evaporated)
¼ cup butter

Mix and bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil 3 minutes. Add 2 tsp vanilla and beat until thick enough to spread. Add more evaporated milk if frosting gets too thick. Add nuts if desired.

--Vada Brooks Johnson, Shirley Johnson Shelton

P. S. Happy birthday, cousin Steve! I'd make you one of these cakes if I were there....


Anonymous said...

My grandmother grew up in Mineola and I have recipe cards that belonged to her that have the exact same type set as thisabd exact same penmanship. The only difference is that she used the words oleo for crisco and/or butter. Very interesting!

syshelton said...

My mom typed up the recipes when she was a teenager and later wrote out her own copies. Do your cards have the batter spatters?