The Chocolate Cake Sagas…..Part 2

Dec 18


“That hot coffee is not going to work”, I said with conviction as my new wife Belinda was making my birthday cake ….just three days


after getting married. Bernard had warned me to never criticize my future wife’s cooking . Of course, “Mr. Big Mouth” (ME), had just done that very thing! “Would you like me to throw this batter in the trash ? No? Then you can go down to the little grocery store on the corner and get yourself a hostess cup cake ?, she responded.

It suddenly dawned on me that my enthusiasm for good cooking was getting in the way of good advise from my mentor and chef, Bernard. After all, we had gotten married on a Monday so he and his wife could come to the wedding and our reception luncheon at El Paseo Restaurant in Mill Valley.(Still operating today!) I looked at her and said,”No ,the cake will be great”, and left the room. The next day we sat down to my birthday cake and a cup of coffee. It looked wonderful and the smell was the best!Belinda said that it had been a tradition in her family that everybody always got this marvelous cake , baked by  her Mom, Loie , on their birthday. I took one taste…WOW! “This is the best chocolate cake I have ever eaten! If I ever get the chance to open my own restaurant I am going to feature “Loie’s Chocolate Cake” on the menu. Plus, I’ll use my Mom’s cream cheese frosting made with dark brown sugar.” On a hot day- August 3, 1977 in the Sellwood neighborhood of Portland, Oregon that is exactly what I did.

The accolades for that cake rolled in from the first day we served it at Belinda’s Restaurant. It was so easy to make… at the beginning we could not afford a pastry cook, so I made all of the desserts myself. Some weren’t too good, but not Loie’s cake. I added my Mom’s frosting and decorated the pieces with a moist dried apricot dipped in dark chocolate , while the layers were filled with apricot preserves instead of more frosting-TOO RICH with the extra frosting. The apricot preserves were my contribution. I love apricot with chocolate, always have.  As the years went by at Belinda’s, most of the dessert selections changed , only two remained- Loie’s Chocolate Cake and my Walnut Praline Cheesecake. Pastry chefs came and went on to other endeavours and glories… seemed the recipe for Loie’s always went along with them. Now I do not have definitive proof, but as time marched on, the exact same recipe became the “featured chocolate cake”  at several bakeries, a certain high profile deli/cafe/catering spot in Portland, and various restaurants.It is even featured in a famous nationally recognized Portland chef’s cookbook-credit being given to a former pastry cook. It has been featured in Sunset  and Portland Monthly magazines too; other publications I would guess are out there . If one does a little research, you’ll find several accolades for similar cake recipes around. Bernard always said, “Never think a recipe belongs to you alone.You are in the service of other people andsharing your cooking and your recipes are what you must do. Besides, they will put their own touch on it anyway, then it is theirs to share.” Good words to live by, wouldn’t you agree? I have never forgotten them! So here is Loie’s Chocolate Cake to share and I hope you all experience as much joy as Belinda, all the pastry cooks, friends and customers that have enjoyed it, and I have with this recipe from Belinda’s Restaurant in Sellwood by way of Minneapolis, Minnesota (rumor is that it came from Cuba…who knows; coffee and chocolate together do make sense ).  If you want to use my Mom’s Brown Sugar cream Cheese frosting, refer to PART 1 of the ” The  Chocolate Cake Sagas “ feature . Substitute packed dark brown sugar for the powdered sugar in the Orange Cream Cheese frosting from my 7 th birthday cake. You also need to eliminate the orange rind and juice. if any liquid is needed, a bit of milk will work just fine. remember only after it is a bit chilled, not hard from hours in the refrigerator.

No matter the stories or the sagas that are or imagined. THIS IS JUST ABOUT THE BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE YOU WILL EVER EAT….many people will agree. Try it for yourself. Better idea! Make one for your special person’s birthday,like I had for me; and maybe it will become a tradition in your family too!

While I am telling cake stories, iI felt like I should mention that my “other favorite’ cake is carrot cake. Not just any carrot cake, but the recipe that I have developed over many years. When I was working on my recipe, I had a ready and willing built in “carrot cake tester”, my friend Milt. He is a carrot cake aficiando extraordinaire……. plus a damn fine cook and baker. This way I knew if it passed the “Milt Test” ,it would be received well by most all carrot cake lovers. The only variables are :to add nuts or not….to add coconut or not…pineapple? These are easy things to leave out if one chooses. I’ll be including the carrot cake, sour cream raisin pie and some other favorite-tried and proven- Holiday dishes before Christmas rolls around.Be sure and take a look in a few days.

5.0 from 2 reviews

Loie’s Chocolate Cake
Recipe type: Cake
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 12-16

At Belinda’s Restaurant we always made these cake layers ahead of time and froze them after wrapping well.You can remove and frost and have a cake ready in ½ hour. Recipe can be increased 2-3 times easily, make sure you have a stand mixer that will handle the added volume.
  • 4 Cups all purpose flour
  • 3½ Cups granulated sugar
  • 1⅛ Cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp. baking soda
  • 2 large eggs , beaten
  • 1⅓ cups canola oil
  • 2 cups buttermilk (powdered variety from the baking aisle is handy item in the pantry)
  • 2 Cups strong black coffee (I like to use French roast)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 d.325 d. for convection oven
  2. Grease 3-9″ cake pans, line bottom with parchment paper and grease again
  3. Put electric mixer on low and add all dry ingredients;add one whole egg at a time while mixing until all eggs are incorporated smoothly.
  4. With mixer still running, add oil slowly, then buttermilk until well mixed. Stop mixer and fold in hot coffee by hand with a spatula. The batter will be very runny at this point.
  5. Fill each pan evenly and tap gently on table to remove air bubbles.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 33 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean.
  7. Cool on pans a rack for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans , peel off paper, and put back on rack to cool at least one hour. The layers are best if frosted when completely cooled.At this point , layers can be wrapped well and refrigerated for a day or so ; or frozen for up to a month.

WORDS FOR THE WISE?  “It’s not so much the die’in that ya hate,it is not know’in what they’ll be a sayin’ ’bout ya.


CABLE HOGUE- “The Ballad of Cable Hogue”




  1. Here’s to Loie’s chockolate cake!

  2. Milt Stewart /

    The greatest chocolate cake ever………and my favorite carrot cake in one blog. A great holiday present!

  3. Very tasty!!!!!

  4. Matthew M /

    I must whole hardidly agree! Best damned chocolate cake ever. My wife has made so many variations of this one, apricot filling, Raspberry perserves (from our backyard), choc ganache, you name it. I must also agree with Ross, I prefer the fruit fillings as well. Perfect balance. Thanks Ross (and Belinda) for sharing this wonderful recipe with the world.

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