HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


What is your favorite kind of old fashioned cake?

I am trying to think of a cake to make for my grandmother's 98th birthday. My own favorite that she always made for me, is applesauce walnut date with a cream cheese frosting. I was thinking of that and a lemon cake, but then I thought maybe carrot..or a grated apple cake with a penuche frosting?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Depends what makes her heart beat...

    Pound cake is a classic
    Strawberry Shortcake
    Sour Cream Chocolate Cake
    Red Velvet
    Pineapple Upside-Down

    What did/does Grandma used to bake herself?

    4 Replies
    1. re: Emme

      Carrot Cake:

      I have had this recipe since the early 70's, on a recipe card.

      I don't know where it came from, but I am sure it's been around.
      It's my family's favorite carrot cake!

      Carrot Cake
      1 1/2 c. oil
      2 c. sugar
      4 eggs
      2 c. flour
      2 t. baking powder
      2 t. baking soda
      1 t. salt
      2 t. cinnamon
      3 c. grated carrots
      1 c. chopped nuts

      Preheat oven to 300.
      Blend oil & sugar; then add eggs, 1 at a time, blending well after each one is added. Sift dry ingred. & add to sugar mixture. Add carrots & nuts and mix well. Bake in 3 greased & floured round cake pans or 13 x 9 pan for about 40-50 min.

      8 oz. cream cheese, softened
      1/2 stick butter or margarine, melted
      2 t. vanilla
      1 box powdered sugar

      Beat all and use to frost.

      1. re: mcel215

        thank you! I make my carrot cake by boiling the carrots until they are soft and then smoothing them out in the food processor; my frosting is the same, but with softened butter and a squeeze of lemon juice. I'm dying to try yours.

        1. re: fayehess

          My recipe calls for pureed carrots too. For a shortcut I use pureed carrot baby food.

      2. re: Emme

        My grandmother absolutely loved to bake and would make a cake, cookies, pie or bread at the drop of a hat. She always brought cheesecake with a huge jar of a slightly thickend cherry pie filling to put on top, or yellow caked stuffed with pastry cream and fresh fruit, or rich, spicy gingerbread type cakes. I remember a Danish apple cake as well, just layers of homemade applesauce, then crushed Zwiebrot (sp?) with a little sugar and butter mixed in, then whipped cream, in a loaf pan until the last layer of cream. fayefood.com

      3. IMHO nothing beats a homemade yellow cake with homemade chocolate frosting.

        8 Replies
        1. re: kkak97

          oh my gosh, now I think I'm going to have to make at least three or four cakes. I have a great recipe for a buttermilk cake with chocolate frosting. When you're 98, you deserve 4 cakes.

            1. re: kkak97

              Yes, that is the standard in our household. Chocolate buttercream is the topping and I use an old Betty Crocker Bonnie Butter cake recipe, although I use cake flour today instead of AP flour and real Plugra butter (I guess that's why everyone wants one for their Bday!)

              1. re: Diane in Bexley

                I have never heard of Plugra. Is it American?

                1. re: fayehess

                  Here is a definition from Wikipedia:
                  Plugrá is a butter made in the United States by Keller's Creamery. It is made with a higher fat content than most American butter (82.5% butterfat, vs. 80% [1]), resulting in a richer flavor and lower water content, and is used by some chefs in place of normal butter. The name "Plugra" is derived from the French plus gras ("more fat").
                  It is, for example, possible to make alfredo sauce without using cream at all (normally an essential ingredient), simply by using plugra butter and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, instead of normal (lower in cream/fat) butter and parmesan [dubious – discuss]. Online marketing for Plugrá have pegged it as "European style", supposedly because of the composition difference between itself and most butter sold in American markets.
                  In the United States, it is usually found in specialty markets.
                  The best price for where I live is a local market. I didn't start using it until Land O'Lakes stopped putting foil on their butter. I am really angry about the paper covers and find that the butter can taste "off". Very satisfied with plugra butter, too expensive for me to use for anything but something like cake or pastry where the taste really shines through.

                  1. re: Diane in Bexley

                    Hi Diane - I use Plugra too in my buttercream frostings. I buy it at Trader Joes at 161/Sawmill. It's cheaper there than WF or anyplace else I've seen in Columbus. (p.s. we really do need to meet. we may have been separated at birth based on what I read in your postings!)

                    1. re: HungryLetsEat

                      Carfagna's - will have to check out TJ at Easton, don't schlep to Sawmill too often, once every 4-6 weeks for WF run

                    2. re: Diane in Bexley

                      Plugra is also my favorite butter. It's more complicated to use (just a bit) because it comes in a block rather than 4 individual sticks, so you have to measure it. I love the flavor on good bread as well, and they serve it at good local restaurants with their bread.

                      One of the reasons I stopped liking America's Test Kitchen was that their tasting panel liked Plugra least of all the butters they tasted. I never trusted them after that.

              2. First remember a 98 year old doesn't have the same digestive ability she had as a young fifty something.
                Angelfood cake is always a fall back, but her applesauce cake with finely chopped walnuts and dates and cream cheese frosting would be my sentimental favorite to say thank you to her. (And if you'd like to share the recipe....)

                3 Replies
                1. re: shallots

                  You are absolutely right about digestive ability and 98 years, but somehow, the only thing my grandmother will ea/drink for about the past 5 years are jalpeno cheez-its, extra spicy tomato juice and non-alcoholic beer, chocolate, candy, cake, cookies or pie. I'm leaning towards the applesauce cake or the carrot cake just to get some fruit and veg in her. Here is (my grandmother's) recipe for the applesauce cake:
                  2 cup flour
                  2 teasp b. soda
                  1 t cinn.
                  1/2 t allspice
                  1/2 t nutmeg
                  1/4 t cloves
                  1/4 t salt

                  Mix the dry together. In sep. bowl, cream 1/2 cup soft butter and 1 cup light brown sugar. Add one cup of hot homemade applesauce (unsweetened) and then on egg at a time (2 eggs total) until mixed. Add 1 more cup of hot applesauce. Add 1 cup chopped dates (not the pre-chopped variety) and 3/4 c roughly chopped walnuts (also not precut). Bake at 350 degrees in 2 9 inch pans until the cake springs back to the touch. Frost when cool. For the frosting, 1 8 ounce box of philli cream cheese, 1/2 cup of butter (both room temp) 1 teaspoon of vanilla and a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Add 1 box of 10X sugar (sifted).

                  1. re: fayehess

                    This sounds delicious! I'm bookmarking it and hope to make it this fall.

                    1. re: fayehess

                      faye, if your grandmother likes tomato juice, why not a tomato soup cake?

                  2. My mom used to make a Queen Elizabeth cake that was delicious. I can't find her recipe but here's a link to one:


                    She made it in a bundt pan, then after icing it with the boiled coconut & brown sugar icing it went under the broiler briefly. The cake is dense with dates and very moist. Really delicious. Happy birthday to your grandmother!

                    1. Depends on where your grandma's from. I really like the typical French "grandma" cake, yogurt cake. You can get a great recipe on Chocolate and Zucchini.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: piccola

                        I see someone mentioned pineapple upside down cake, the only other one that comes
                        to mind is a coconut cake and frosting.

                      2. My favorite old-fashioned cake that my grandma used to make is a poppyseed (no lemon) icebox cake.

                        1. My grandma always made a deep dark chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Jen_in_NJ

                            Do you have this recipe? If so, please post it!!!

                          2. My grandma always made 7-Up cake. She taught me to make it when I was about 12 and I remember reading the recipe and asking "what's oleo?". She laughed.

                            1. Are there denture issues? If so, avoid nuts.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Amanita

                                As soon as I read this, I thought, there is no way I can do nuts, but then I remembered that she goes through about a can every two days of cashews. I don't know how she does it.

                              2. I vote for the grated apple cake with penuche frosting because it sounds delicious. Is the penuche frosting and cake a family recipe? If so, would you share the recipe? I love penuche.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: foodseek

                                  I'll go on a hunt tonight and find the recipe for you. The frosting is 4 Tablespoons of butter melted, then 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar. You stir in 2 tablespoons of cream into that, bring to a simmer, and turn off the heat. Let it cool. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract. Add enough sifted 10x sugar to make a good spreading consistency. It should be about 2 cups. Make note that the frosting will stiffen up as it sets on the cake. fayefood.com

                                  1. re: fayehess

                                    I very easy, great tasting and light cake I love is duncan hines white cake mix, I make 3 layers and then put pineapple and cool whip or whipped cream between each layer. Its like heaven!

                                    1. re: fayehess

                                      I can't wait to get the recipe and make this cake-perfect for the coming fall weather. I bet it smells delicious as well! There is something about the aroma of apples and brown sugar that just puts me in a good mood.

                                  2. i don't know if it's grandmotherly but my grandmothers would've loved it...
                                    ina garten's lemon cake is awesome. you can make one and freeze one. or eat them both like i do...

                                    1. Lady Lord Baltimore, which I believe is alternating layers of yellow and chocolate cake and uses 7-minute frosting.

                                      1. Be sure to find out in a nice way what she can chew and what she can digest, a lady of her years.

                                        1. When I was growing up we always spent every Christmas in N. Carolina at my grandparents house, my gramma would make her Stack Cake each year, a very thin spice cake layer made in her cast iron skillet, bake in her wood cookstove and then stacked on plate with a filling made from dried apples that she had dried herself earlier in the fall. She also took some dried apples and cooked them up as a filling for her famous Dried Apple Fried Pies. I still make the fried pies, with dried apples I buy at the grocery store and pie crust I buy in dairy dept............but the stack cake I have never been able to duplicate................I have cast iron skillets............I guess I need the wood cookstove lol. My gramma passed away at age 100 back in 1990, but our family has many fond memories of her great cooking.

                                          1. A traditional family birthday cake of ours-which has seen 4 generations so far-is a chocolate pudding cake made with presto cake flour (tall, light, and airy), layered with a frosting of chocolate pudding folded with whipped cream. Served cool. It's incredibly simple but incredibly good.
                                            FWIW, my grandmother likes lemon cake the best.... seems to be a trend with grandmothers!

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: vvvindaloo

                                              There's only one for me: Red Velvet. I made one for Thanksgiving as it was also my MIL's birthday. Delicious.