In our new Retro Redo column, we take a beloved heirloom recipe and add our twist on the classic. Starting with our March/April 2018 Issue, you’ll find a new take on an old favorite. Here, we give you a sneak peek of our first redo! We’ve updated one Long Island reader’s vintage cake recipe, and below she shares why, more than six decades later, the dessert still evokes the same sweet feelings it did when she was a little girl. Find our updated version in our March/April 2018 Issue!
This chocolate-swirled chiffon cake let me see my mother in a whole new light. During my childhood, my mother, Florence, was always reserved, quietly cooking or cleaning our tiny apartment in the Bronx. When I was five, she came home from the grocery store with a new cookbook, How to Win Compliments for Your Cooking: The Wesson Oil & Snowdrift Cook Book (1950), which cost 25 cents at the time. We were kosher, and it was hard to be creative with those dietary restrictions back then. Since this cake calls for the use of oil and not butter, it was fair game. My mother was just an average cook, but she became the master of this marble chiffon.
Whenever we had company over, she would emerge from the one-person kitchen carrying this tall, elegant cake fresh from the oven. Everyone would ooh and aah as she strode across the room with a huge smile on her face. Every time, I watched her in awe. She glowed. It may have been just a simple cake on a plain white cake stand, but when you don’t have much, it’s nice to have something to be proud of.
Shortly after I got married, she wrote out the recipe on a card so I could begin making it for my own family—I still remember her teaching me how to swirl the batters together to get the marble effect. She made the cake for over 64 years, and now I’ve made it for 50. My grandkids still ooh and aah when I put it on the table. My mother passed away several years ago, but every time I bake this cake, I can close my eyes and see her smile.
Nassau County, New York
To get our updated twist on this traditional recipe (pictured below), order our March/April 2018 Issue!