Johnny and chocolate cakes

A little while ago I wrote about Johnny cakes or johnnycake – it seems that originally they were the sort of cake you could wrap up and take with you to sustain you on a journey – although there were other ideas about how they got their name! Looking at some old recipes from the 1870’s, I found a johnny cake recipe… and one for chocolate cake too!


  • 1 quart of buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup of butter
  • ½ cup of brown sugar
  • 1½ teaspoonfuls of soda
  • 1 tea-cup of flour
  • … and corn meal enough to make a soft batter
  1.  mix everything and bake at least one hour in a buttered pan

What could be easier than that?! In other recipes, spoonfuls of the batter are cooked to make small pancakes – the recipe above sounds a bit leathery!

So this is how the recipe appeared for the other cake:

CHOCOLATE CAKE – Beat well the yolks of five eggs, and one tea-cup of sweet milk in which has been dis-solved two teaspoonfuls of cream tartar and one of soda ; one and a half teacups white sugar, half a cup of butter ; beat the whites of the eggs to a froth, using three for the cake, then stir in flour. It should not be very stiff. Bake in layers, as jelly cake. Grate three tablespoonfuls of baking chocolate, and add two tablespoonfuls of white sugar and the two remaining white of eggs well beaten. This is to be spread between the layers.

But this is easier:


  • 5 eggs separated
  • 1 teacup sweet milk
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1½ teacups of white sugar
  • ½ teacup of butter
  • cooking chocolate – 3 tbsp when grated
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  1. dissolve the cream of tartar and the bicarbonate of soda in the milk
  2. beat the egg yolks with the milk
  3. add in the sugar and butter (you may need to beat the butter first separately)
  4. beat three of the egg whites and stir into the mixture
  5. fold in the flour
  6. bake in separate sponge tins (the recipe doesn’t specify how many, I guess 3!) at 180C/350F/Gas 4 for about 25 mins or until done
  7. put to cool while making chocolate frosting
  8. beat remaining egg whites
  9. add in the 2 tbsp sugar and grated chocolate
  10. frosting spread between layers and on top if there is enough – if there isn’t, dust with icing sugar

My featured image is of a completely different chocolate cake I made for a chocoholic aunty’s birthday!

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