Eliza Leslie's Chocolate Cake

11:51 am on 27 January 2019
Eliza Leslie

Eliza Leslie Photo: Supplied

Eliza Leslie was a well-known 19th century cookbook author and student of Mrs. Goodfellow's Philadelphia cooking school. She is widely credited for publishing the first cake recipe in America truly made with chocolate. Her recipe appeared in The Lady’s Receipt Book in 1847.


Eliza Leslie's Chocolate Cake

(Makes one 10-inch Bundt cake, 12 to 16 servings)


3 cups sifted cake flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 whole nutmeg, grated (2-2 ½ teaspoons)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 ounces (3 squares) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups sugar
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
8 large eggs
2 tablespoons milk


Adjust an oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter a 10-inch Bundt pan (or loaf pans), or coat with cooking spray, and dust the inside, including the tube, with fine dry bread crumbs. Knock out the excess crumbs and set aside.

Sift the cake flour with the salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon; set aside.

Process the chocolate for 30 seconds in a food processor. Add ¼ cup of the sugar and process for 30 seconds to 1 minute longer, until the chocolate is chopped into very small granules. Set aside.

Beat the butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. On medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the ground chocolate mixture and vanilla and beat for 1 minute on medium-high speed. Beat in the remaining 1 ¾ cups sugar about ¼ cup at a time, beating for 20 to 30 seconds after each addition. When all the sugar has been incorporated, beat for 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs two at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition; stop to scrape the bowl and beaters occasionally.

On low speed, gradually add half the flour mixture, beating only until thoroughly incorporated. Beat in the milk, then the remaining flour. Scrape the bowl and beaters with a rubber spatula and stir to make sure the batter is smooth. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the thickest part comes out clean. Any cracks on top of the cake should appear moist, not dry. Cool the cake in its pan for 20 minutes. Use a thin-bladed knife to loosen the cake from the pan, cover the pan with a wire rack, and invert the two. Carefully lift off the pan and let the cake cool completely upside down.

When the cake is completely cool, wrap airtight with plastic wrap and let stand overnight before serving. Cut into thin slices with a serrated knife.

Garnish with a sprinkling of icing sugar or an icing made from 4 egg whites beaten with 2 cups confectioners sugar. .

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