Simple Chocolate Loaf

I only ever knew one grandparent.  That was my father’s mother.  She was 75 when I was born.  She was a very bright woman.  She won academic awards, received scholarships for her schooling, she spoke multiple languages, and played the piano as well as any concern pianist (I thought anyway!).  But neither a cook nor a baker be.

I do not have one single memory of my grandmother ever cooking.  Ever standing over her stove.  Ever putting something in the oven.  Ever really being in the kitchen.  Strange.  I never met my mother’s mother (she passed away before I was born) but I fancy her to be a bit of a baker and cook.  Either way, I would like to think that this chocolate loaf would be something one of my grandmother’s would have baked.

This recipe came from the wonderfully old treasure of a cookbook my mother gave to me.  The recipe is from the 1950s and the cake certainly does taste different from modern day versions.

I had a bit of an informal ‘afternoon tea’ with my lovely friend Rosie recently.  I took along a chocolate loaf to accompany the endless parade of coffee she made.  Admittedly, I did slightly over cook the cake – I was trying to substitute a single round tin into two loaf tins and slightly misjudged the baking time by about 5 minutes.

One of Rosie’s friends also dropped by and sampled the cake.  She cautiously said it reminded her of Shingle Inn cake.  She did not want me to be offended.  Given the old-fashioned approach of Shingle Inn, I was happy with the comment.  I did not push it, but secretly hoped she also meant it tasted like original-Shingle-Inn-in-Edward-Street-near-the-old-David-Jones-not-the-more-commerialised-chain-variety-of-Shingle-Inn-now.  I guess whichever way, I will take the compliment.

I actually selected this recipe as chocolate loaf is one of my entries into the Royal Show this year.  I think there could be some solid classics entered, so I am attempting to match them.  It is a lovely cake, and if you have the memory, it will reminded you (hopefully!) of something your grandmother used to bake.

I will include the original recipe below – not my sizing adaptation (do not want anyone else over baking it).

{ Chocolate Cake }
Good Housekeeping, circa 1950

* Ingredients *

180g or 6 oz butter
180g or 6 oz castor sugar
3 eggs
Vanilla essence
240g or 8 oz flour
45g or 1 ½ oz cocoa
45g or 1 ½ oz baking powder
A pinch of salt

* Directions *

Cream together the fat and sugar and beat in the eggs and a few drops of vanilla essence.  Sieve the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt and add to the mixture, together with enough milk to give a soft dropping consistency.  Put into a prepared 20 cm or 8-inch tin and bake for 1-1 ¼ hours in a moderate oven (180C or 250F).  When the cake is cool, it may be either dredged with icing sugar or coated with white glace icing and decorated with chocolate butter cream, piped in an attractive design.