German Chocolate Cake isn’t really German at all. In fact, it was a “reader recipe” printed in a Dallas newspaper in 1957. In the ingredient list, the reader who submitted the recipe specified “German’s Sweet Chocolate” which was a sweet chocolate formulated by a man named Samuel German who worked for the Walter Baker Chocolate Company. As Jean Anderson points out in The American Century Cookbook, German’s brand chocolate had been selling just fine for the past 105 years prior to the cake recipe, but when the cake recipe was printed in the Dallas newspaper, there was a spike in German’s chocolate sales in Dallas. General Foods, the company that had acquired the brand, traced the sales to the recipe in the Dallas paper. They were so impressed that a General Foods district manager asked the food editor at the Dallas paper to send the recipe to other food editors around the country. When it started appearing in newspapers, food editors began receiving letters from readers all over the country saying the cake recipe was similar to an old one “their mother made” or that they’d “lost”. General Foods refined the recipe, added Angel Flake Coconut, and re-named the cake German Sweet Chocolate Cake.
At least that’s what I read in Jean Anderson’s book and that seems like a good story to me.
In her book, she reprints the original recipe. It’s almost identical to the one I used, but it calls for 2 cups of sifted all purpose instead of 2 ½ cups sifted cake flour. I was very happy with the soft, tender, crumb of the cake flour version, so I’m going to recommend that recipe.
Here’s a link to the recipe.
A few tips. First off, don’t use 8 inch pans. If you do, you’ll get a towering skyscraper cake like mine which is potentially going to be a pain to cut. Then again, it seems to be adhering pretty well to itself so maybe it won’t. Still, I wish I’d used 9 inch pans.
If you like spreading the frosting all over the cake rather than just spreading it on the tops, stacking and leaving the sides unfinished (very common for German Chocolate Cakes), then you will need to give the icing a good chill before attempting to construct the cake. Otherwise, it will be too runny.
That’s all I have to say about German Chocolate Cake. That, and this is one cake that looks prettier when sliced!