My Inspiration Cake: 'a little piece of history'

Margaret Turner of Lillington, N.C., is seeking a recipe for My Inspiration Cake, which she believes was a grand-prize winner in a 1953 competition.

Kathy Schnabel of Glendora, Calif., responded. "I enclose a copy of the original 'My Inspiration Cake' recipe as it appears in the Pillsbury's 5th 100 Grand National Recipes booklet. This recipe is important to our family, as the winner, Mrs. Bernard Kanago, was my mother-in-law's aunt.


"It was our wedding cake in 1983. My husband would bake this cake when we were dating. It was with awe and amusement that my mother found Margaret Turner's recipe request in the Salem, Ore., Statesman Journal while we happened to be visiting for Christmas.

"I had just purchased the day before in a used bookstore the original 1954 booklet. Tickled that I had come by family history in a cookbook, I was even more delighted by the serendipity of the recipe request."


Recipe requests

Dottie Crow of Pismo Beach, Calif., is seeking a pasta dish with shrimp, mussels, chopped tomatoes and a butter sauce.

Fran Klappenberger of Baltimore is seeking "a recipe that Del Monte published using canned green beans." It had bacon, onion, vinegar, sugar and a sauce. "I would love to have this," Klappenberger writes.

If you are looking for a recipe or can answer a request for a hard-to-find recipe, write to Ellen Hawks, Recipe Finder, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278. If you send more than one recipe, please put each on a separate sheet of paper with your name, address and daytime phone number. Names must accompany recipes for them 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.

My Inspiration Cake

Serves 12 to 16

1 cup finely chopped pecans

2 ounces semisweet chocolate


2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

2/3 cup vegetable shortening

1 1/4 cups milk


1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 large or 5 medium ( 2/3 cup) egg whites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pecans evenly over bottoms of two well-greased and lightly floured 9-inch round layer pans. Grate chocolate and set aside. Sift flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in large mixing bowl.

Add shortening, milk and vanilla extract. Beat for 1 1/2 minutes, 150 strokes per minute, until batter is well blended. (With electric mixer, blend at low speed, then beat at medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes.)

Add unbeaten egg whites and beat for another 1 1/2 minutes. Spoon 1/4 of batter into each nut-lined pan, using about half of the batter. Sprinkle with grated chocolate (half in each pan).

Spoon remaining batter into pans, spreading carefully so chocolate is not disturbed. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until cake is set and top springs back when touched. Let cool in pans 10 to 15 minutes before turning out.


Cool thoroughly and frost layers, nut-side up, with chocolate frosting (see frosting recipe). Spread frosting between and on sides of layers, but frost only 1/2 inch around top edge of cake. Decorate frosting with reserved 1/3 cup white frosting, (see recipe) thinned with 1 to 2 teaspoons water for easy spreading.

Per serving (1/16 of cake): 469 calories; 6 grams protein; 24 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 61 grams carbohydrate; 2 grams fiber; 53 milligrams cholesterol; 294 milligrams sodium


2 ounces unsweetened chocolate

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup water


4 egg yolks

1/2 cup shortening

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1 to 2 tablespoons water

Combine chocolate, granulated sugar and water in saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth and thickened.


Remove from heat. Add egg yolks; beat thoroughly. Cool.

Cream shortening and vanilla. Gradually blend in powdered sugar, creaming well. Reserve 1/3 cup of this frosting to decorate the cake. Add the cool chocolate mixture to the remaining white frosting; beat until smooth.

Per serving: 169 calories; 1 gram protein; 9 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 22 grams carbohydrate; 1 gram fiber; 51 milligrams cholesterol; 3 milligrams sodium

Tester Laura Reiley's comments: "This cake is a little piece of history. In updated versions of the same cake, a white cake mix is substituted for the cake part, and the egg yolks are omitted from the frosting due to health concerns.

"Still, whether you make the cake from scratch or with a mix, the crunchy nut tops and the thin layer of rich chocolate baked into the batter make this a special-occasion cake.

"The idea with the icing on the top is to just ice a circle of chocolate icing along the outer periphery of the top, then decoratively pipe a line of white icing inside that, leaving a circle of nut-topped cake exposed at the center.


"Don't overbake the layers, but you can't really use a toothpick to test it [as the molten chocolate layer will coat your toothpick no matter what]. Begin testing the cake around 25 minutes, depressing the top gently to see if it springs back."