What is a true BROOKLYN BLACKOUT CAKE? And why is it from Brooklyn? Cleo Coyle tells you…

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The eyes eat first!

Feast your eyes on a very rare sight. Pictured above is a Brooklyn Blackout Cake that is actually from Brooklyn. Why is it rare? Because my husband and I found one of the only bakeries in Brooklyn that still bakes and sells this cake. 



We went in search of it as research in finalizing 


our own Blackout Cake recipe... 




Ladybird Bakery,
Park Slope, Brooklyn

The original Brooklyn Blackout Cake was invented and sold by a chain of Brooklyn bakeries called Ebinger's, a beloved institution that no longer exists. When Ebinger's did exist (between 1894 and 1972), generations of Brooklynites grew up on their specialties, including Crumb Buns, Lemon Cupcakes, and the Othello, but none of those treats became more famous than the Blackout Cake.

Certainly, we all have foodie attachments, but Ebinger's went one step further. According to Dr. Annie Hauck-Lawson of Brooklyn College, who studied Brooklyn's eating patterns for her Ph.D. dissertation: "The borough is such an ethnic mix and Ebinger's was one commonality. Everybody could walk to an Ebinger's, and what could be wrong with fabulous cake?" (Source: Molly O'Neill's New York Cookbook.)


******

To see Brooklyn
memories, click here.


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According to foodie historian Molly O'Neill, the median age of the "Ebinger's girls" was about 80, yet "they could slice and box a cake faster than a woman a quarter their age." (My own readers know *that* sounds familiar!)


Now a true Blackout Cake is not just any chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Again, according to Ms. O'Neill, it is...

"...three layers of
devil's food cake sandwiching a  dark chocolate pudding with chocolate frosting and sprinkled with chocolate cake crumbs."

* * *



Why is it called 
Blackout?

Ebinger's created this cake during World War II. Because of its dark chocolate, nearly black appearance, it was named after the blackout drills performed by the Civilian Defense Corps. 

Blackout drills are common in cities during wartime. In Brooklyn, where the navy yard regularly sent out battleships, the blackouts were necessary to prevent the ships from being silhouetted by the bright background of Brooklyn's lights.


* * * * *

See photos of the
Brooklyn Navy Yard here.

* * * * *


Given the cake's historical attachment to strife, I thought it apropos to use it at the close of my Coffeehouse Mystery Murder by Mocha, when three generations of female characters undergo an intense period of worry. 

All three are waiting to hear news about loved ones. Depending on how things turn out, Greenwich Village coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi, her daughter, Joy, and the girl's grandmother will either eat the cake to celebrate--or to smother their sorrows. 
Which is it?  No spoiler here... 



THE CAKE HUNT

To prepare my recipe post for this cake, I went on the hunt with the objective to taste an authentic Blackout Cake from a Brooklyn bakery, and I found a doozy...





This is a gourmet cake with four devil's food layers (Ebinger's had only three). Like Ebinger's, however, this version has the traditional chocolate fudge pudding in between the layers. The frosting is not pudding, however, but a decadent chocolate ganache The bakery holds to tradition with the chocolate cake crumbs pressed along the sides of the cake, but not the top. Ladybird smooths the ganache flat for a good reason. This cake is often ordered as a birthday or anniversary cake, and the bakery keeps the top flat for scripting best wishes in icing.




I look forward to sharing the Brooklyn Blackout Cake recipe with you in the future, along with my step-by-step photos. 

In the meantime, I hope you've enjoyed today's background on this legendary cake. In closing, I'm happy to share some of my "cake hunting" photos, as Marc and I ventured to Brooklyn to buy the cake that you see in today's photos...











Notice the photo:
When my Marc called to reserve
this cake, the baker's assistant 
scribbled
his name on the box... 
or thought he had.

Instead of writing Marc, the assistant 

reserved the cake for MIKE.
 Talk about psychic?! 

If you've read Murder by Mocha,
then you 
know why that mistake
is actually amazingly accurate. 

(I'm keeping the box!)



I'm also keeping the bag.
 You can see why...!

🍰

As I mentioned above,
the Blackout Cake plays
an important role
in my bestselling
Coffeehouse Mystery...



The book's recipe section 
features many recipes,
including chocolate recipes!
To see some of them,
click here.








Blackout Cake
Recipe!


I will be sharing my own
version of the Brooklyn
Blackout Cake recipe in
the future!


Subscribe to my newsletter
(below) so you don't miss my
future bonus recipes... 
~ Cleo




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