Recipe Finder: 'Gypsy' cake

Alice Rohart from Baltimore was looking for a recipe for a cake her mom used to make when she was growing up that she called a Gypsy round layer cake. She said her mom baked a lot and she fondly remembers this cake as being a lovely combination of spice and chocolate with chopped nuts, topped with a delicious buttercream frosting. She wanted help finding the recipe so she could make it and bring back old memories.

I located a recipe for a Gypsy round cake in the American Profile magazine Hometown Cookbook that likely is the one Rohart was searching for. In this cookbook, American Profile magazine celebrates hometown life in America by inviting readers to send in their favorite recipes for publication. Octavia Fleck of Morehead, Ky., sent in the recipe for the cake. She said she has been bringing this special cake to holiday gatherings for years and that it is always enthusiastically received by her family and friends. My family enjoyed this rich mocha spice cake, and hopefully Rohart will be reminded of her childhood when she tastes it again.


Viola Brown from Indiana, who is 82 years old and says she has a hard time finding things she still enjoys eating, would like to have good and easy recipes for making Polish cabbage and tomato basil soup.

If you are looking for a recipe or can answer a request, write to Julie Rothman, Recipe Finder, and The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278, or email If you send in more than one recipe, please put each on a separate piece of paper and be sure to include your name, address and daytime phone number. Important: Name and hometown must accompany recipes in order to be published. Please list the ingredients in order of use, and note the number of servings each recipe makes. Please type or print contributions. Letter and recipes may be edited for clarity.

Gypsy round layer cake

Makes: 12-14 servings

For the cake:

3/4 cup shortening

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 eggs, beaten

2 cups cake flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon lemon extract

1/2 cup chopped nuts

For the mocha icing:

6 tablespoons soft butter

1 egg yolk

3 cups confectioners' sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 tablespoons hot coffee

Whipped cream for garnish, optional

To make the cake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans.

Cream shortening in a medium sized mixing bowl. Add sugar and cream until fluffy. Blend in eggs. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and cocoa powder. Add to creamed mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Stir in vanilla, lemon extract and nuts. Divide batter evenly between the 2 pans and bake for 30 minutes until tester comes out clean. Cool on wire racks before frosting.

For the icing, cream together butter, egg, sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon and coffee until smooth and fluffy. Add another tablespoon coffee or more sugar to balance texture if necessary. Frost top of each layer of cake when cooled and then assemble. Garnish cake with whipped cream and a sprinkling of cocoa powder or cinnamon.

Note: Double the icing recipe if you want to frost sides as well as the top and the middle of the cake.

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