I wrote this post on the first Mother’s Day after my mother, Shirley Bernstein passed. My Mom was outspoken to say the least, kind of feisty in her choice of words at unexpected times, a totally dedicated grandmother and great-grandmother, and a woman who did not like to cook. During the year I was in culinary school., mom shared that the kitchen had been a lonely place for her. I wonder about that still, and wish I could’ve gotten her to more clearly express what she was feeling. What I do know is that TV dinners and Kraft Mac n’ Cheese were meals my sister and I liked. Our vegetables were canned and frozen, and as I remember it, peas, carrots, creamed corn and spinach, unless you count tater tots and ketchup. The freezer always held a half-gallon of some store brand of ice cream, and cheese was muenster and the orange single kind, each slice wrapped in its own plastic covering. That sounds icky but we didn’t know better, and Shirley told me she thought this was modern. What Shirley did make beautifully composed salads in summer, with cucumbers and lettuce from our small garden. Fresh fruit in summer was always available too. I write this not to disrespect my mother but to introduce her. When I began dating my future husband, my mother said, “Learn from this boy’s mother, Wini. She is a great cook and baker.” So here’s to you Shirley and Wini!
Wini was a wiz in the kitchen but so much more. She went to college at 16 years old and had the times been different, she’d have been a CPA or MD. I tasted my first butternut squash at Wini’s table and learned that desserts could be fancy, even if not completely homemade. One of her signature desserts was a store-bought angel food cake with chocolate whipped cream. Wini would make a tunnel in the center of the cake and fill it with her homemade chocolate whipped cream. Her Boston Brown Bread and blueberry muffins were incredible, and her brownies were legendary. My daughter, now a mother of two young boys found a stack of Wini’s handwritten recipe cards and gave some to me.
I tried Wini’s accidentally vegan Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake a couple of years ago using a vegan mayo and thought it had an off-taste. When I tasted Just Mayo by Hampton Creek, and later with Follow Your Heart Veganaise and found that in both cases the cake tasted like the cake of memory remembered, I decided to give the cake a go again. It’s not as deeply chocolate or moist as the Chocolate Torte to Live For but it was a good solid cake, especially when it’s glazed with Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache Glaze from my Vegan Chocolate Cookbook.
Wini’s recipe listed cocoa powder. She did not specify which kind, alkalized (Dutch-process) or non-alkalized, (natural). Because the leavening was only baking soda, I knew the cocoa was non-alkalized. (This won’t surprise anyone who has read the introductory chapter in Vegan Chocolate or has taken any of my classes.)
I changed Wini’s original recipe just a little: using cool coffee, (decaf actually) in place of the water and used some whole wheat pastry flour. Organic, fair-trade vegan sugar replaced the white sugar. I added a little more baking soda plus a new ingredient, apple cider vinegar, for tenderness and lift.
If you’ve ever taken a class with me, you know that when am testing, I cut the recipe at least in half. Here I made a single layer first instead of Wini’s two-layer cake and later I baked it as seen here in a 5 cup Heritage Bundt Pan from Nordic Ware. This pan makes even the simplest cake into a work of art. I have both the small, 5-cup and the larger pan.
So with respect and love to our mother’s, I present Winifred Naomie Goldberg Costigan’s Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake, a vegan chocolate cake, as a beautiful Bundt Cake but you can bake an 8- inch round. It’s the perfect Mother’s Day Chocolate Cake.
Mother's Day Chocolate Cake
I found that I preferred the taste and texture of the cake after it had been chilled. Let me know what you think. Full disclosure. I did not beat the batter 100 strokes per Wini’s directions. It keeps well at room temperature, covered, for a day. Warm the slices if you like for 10 seconds in a microwave for a tasty treat. Today April 2020 with the shortages of many baking staples, feel free to use all All-Purpose Flour.
- 1/2 cup organic whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 cup organic all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
- 3 tablespoons non-alkalized cocoa powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/3 cup vegan mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup room temperature decaf or regular coffee, or water or use room temperature water
- 1.5 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp chocolate extract if you have it
Position a rack in the center of the oven. Oil an 8-inch cake pan and line with parchment paper or use a flour/oil bakign spray to coat a bundt pan very well.
- Sift both of the flours, the sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt through a strainer into a medium bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk the mayo, coffee or water, vanilla and vinegar, and chocolate extract until emulsified, and pour into the dry ingredients. Whisk until you have a smppth thick batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 23 to 25 minutes for the round and 25 to 27 minutes for the bundt, or until a wooden pick inserted into the center is clean.
Cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes. Turn the cake out of the pan and cool completely.
Refrigerate before glazing.
How will you celebrate Mother’s Day? Do you have a favorite tradition or recipe from mom?