Some time ago, my cousin sent me a note: “Thought you would like this recipe. Looks like your Mom (Alta) liked to make this. My Mom told me that Alta and her friends would rush in after school and make this. Enjoy!” Included with the note was a very yellowed newspaper clipping dated 1928, containing a recipe for “Lightning Chocolate Cake.”

Over the holidays, I baked this piece of family history and bit into my past. Imagining my mother and her high school friends, baking and eating this, brought me joy.

Here’s the recipe, if anyone else wishes to try it:

“Lightning Chocolate Cake”

1 1/2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup Ghirardelli’s Ground Chocolate

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup milk

1 egg

1/3 cup melted butter

Sift together three times flour, sugar, chocolate, and baking powder. Add milk, egg, and melted butter; beat well. Bake in two layers in a moderate oven (375 degrees) twenty minutes. When cool, spread with Lightning Chocolate Icing. 

“Ghirardelli’s Lightning Chocolate Icing”:

2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons Ghirardelli’s Ground Chocolate

3 tablespoons hot coffee

2 tablespoons melted butter.

Mix ingredients in order given; beat till smooth; spread on cake. 

My analysis of the cake is that anything chocolate is always good! The cake was a bit dry and coarse; but it was easy to make which is important to me! Best of all, I could picture my mother, chatting (she was always a talker) and laughing with her young friends in the kitchen I knew so well as my Grandma’s kitchen in the old house in Newport, Oregon.