Cardboard & Cloth

recipes, DIY, parenting & me time

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Perfectly Balanced Chocolate Cake (Yeast Method) [2 – 3 days]

image“Let them eat cake—but have it real cake and not a spurious imitation. It is better to eat a corn muffin than a poor cake.” – Louis P DeGouy, The Gold Cookbook [1947]

I came across the basis for this recipe in The Gold Cookbook by Louis P DeGouy, one of the most brilliant and diverse chefs of the 20th century, though there’s little written about him online. Along with being a co-founder of Gourmet Magazine [1940 – 2009], DeGouy  studied under Escoffier in the 1920s and worked at some of the most well-known eating establishments of the modern world, including the Monte Carlo and Hotel de Paris in France; the Carlton Hotel and Leicester Square in England, the Casino of San Sebastian in Spain and the Hotel Belmont and the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. He also published 16 cookbooks, from The Pie Book to The Sandwich Manual for Professionals to The Bread Tray: Recipes for Homemade Breads, Rolls, Muffins and Biscuits. Check out more in this great post on the blog Sandy’s Chatter.

Even though the recipes are as varied as his international past, what makes The Gold Cookbook hard to put down is the fact it’s written almost like a novel. Every vegetable has it’s own little section, describing how best to treat it on the stove and in storage, as does every other chapter, from soups to breads to meats and desserts. Some even have a brief story on how he came across the recipe, or why the recipe he’s using has lasted for so many hundreds of years. In all, it’s as much a brilliant and educational read as it is an indispensable cookbook.

This recipe for chocolate cake had to be tweaked just a touch—its kind of hard to find fresh yeast cakes these days—but, as noted in the title, this isn’t a quick cake. Making a little at a time makes it manageable for just about any busy schedule, but it also allows the batter time to rest and mature, and results in the most exceptionally balanced chocolate cake I’ve ever had the privilege to bake.

In this version, I made it with a dark chocolate ganache inner layer and a cream cheese mocha frosting (recipes below), but don’t be afraid to let your imagination run wild on this!

Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache and Mocha Cream Cheese Frosting



  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 4 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, melted
  • 1 cup milk (cream-line, if possible)
  • 2 packages yeast
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract)

Cream butter with sugar until fluffy, then add in all 3 egg yolks, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition.

Add both packages of yeast to 1/4 cup of lukewarm water and stir until dissolved. Then mix the yeast water with the milk.

Melt the unsweetened chocolate and slowly pour into the sugar/butter mix, alternately adding the milk/yeast mixture until both are incorporated.

Separately, sift the cake flour 4 times and add the salt. Slowly add the flour to the wet mixture until incorporated.

Beat the 3 egg whites until very stiff. Fold into the cake batter gently until incorporated.

Let this sit in the refrigerator overnight.

[Day 2]

The next day…

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease 2 – 9 in. round cake pans, lining the bottom of both with parchment paper.

Mix the 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda with 3 tablespoons of hot water and stir until dissolved. Add the vanilla or vanilla/almond extract and stir all into the cake batter (it will be stiff at first, but it will soften as you stir and the baking soda water is added).

Bake 40 – 45 minutes or until firm. Allow to cool completely on racks before frosting.

[Day 3] – if you don’t have time to wait until the cakes cool that day, you can always do the frosting on day 3!


I have this written down on a little plaque in my kitchen:


  • 1 to 2 for drizzle finishes and ice cream
  • 2 to 2 for cake filling
  • 2 to 1 for truffles

Since this was cake filling, I took what looked like about 2/3 cup of chocolate chips, put them in a bowl and set that bowl on top of a saucepan with a few inches of water in it and heated the water to melt the chocolate (a lot of people call this the double boiler method – I call it bowl-on-saucepan method because I’m not cluttering up my kitchen with another blasted piece of useless kitchen equipment).

Once the chocolate was melted, I added the same —2/3 cup—of heavy cream and stirred until incorporated. It might seem a little thin at first, but it will firm up quickly as it cools. I added it right away to the center layer of the cake.


Mocha Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 – 8 oz package cream cheese
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 6 tablespoons powdered coffee
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Blend the cream cheese and butter in a mixer until creamy, about 5 minutes. Turn down speed to slow and add the powdered sugar and salt. Mix the powdered coffee with the vanilla extract and add that to the frosting mix. Turn back on high and whip another 3 – 5 minutes.

Frost the cake and done!




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5 Minute No Sew T-Shirt Tote Bag

Sometimes you simply can’t find a reusable bag to take to the grocery store, but if you have an old t-shirt that’s already destined for the rag bin, you can make a quick, sturdy bag in no time…or at least in five minutes.

photo 1

Step 1: Cut off the sleeves

photo 2

Step 2: Cut the neck to create the bag opening (the shoulders are now the handles).

photo 3

Step 3: Fringe the bottom of the t-shirt.

photo 4

Step 4: French braid the fringe.

photo 1 (2)

Step 5: Tie off the remaining ends and you’re done!

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Simple, Tasty Oatcakes

Oatcakes are a great, quick treat for breakfast on the go or topped with hot, sugared fruit for dessert. They also serve as the perfect snack for the little guy when he’s tired of cheese sticks and blueberries. I found a number of oatcake recipes in old cookbooks and floating around online, and the ingredient vary very little: oats, flour, sugar, butter with either cream or yogurt as the binding ingredient. After playing around with a few options, I came up with this sweet, apple-cinnamon version using natural Greek yogurt:

Apple-Cinnamon Oatcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups oats (rolled, not steel cut)
  • 1 cup All Purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sugar blended with 1 Tablespoon molasses (or 1/3 cup light brown sugar)
  • 1/2 cup butter, cold
  • 1 small container (about 1/3 cup) Greek yogurt, apple-cinnamon variety


  1. Heat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Mix your dry ingredients together.
    dry mix
  3. Cut the butter into small pieces and work it with your fingers into the dry mixture…
    add butter
    until it resembles coarse meal.
    coarse meal
  4. Mix the yogurt thoroughly in the container, then add to the meal, using your fingers to blend it until it forms a soft dough.
  5. Pat evenly onto a sheet of parchment paper with your hands, smoothing it out until it’s about 1/4 inch thick.
    cut and lift oatcakes
  6. Cut into rounds (these are about 2 1/2 inches in diameter) and slide off the parchment paper onto a clean sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet.
    *I used a cake icing knife to lift the cookies, but you could just as easily use a spatula or a bench scraper.
  7. Bake about 15 minutes until golden on the bottom edges.
    oatcakes done

That’s it! These little rounds keep for about two weeks in an airtight container in the refrigerator, but I doubt they’ll last that long :).

As for that dessert topping, to make a quick fresh strawberry topping:

Chop 1 cup fresh strawberries and mix with 2 – 3 Tablespoons sugar and 3 Tablespoons water and heat in a saucepan over medium-high heat until boiling, then reduce to medium and allow the mixture to reduce to a syrup. This should take about 7 – 10 minutes, but if you’re in a hurry you can mix 2 teaspoons cornstarch with 1 Tablespoon water and add the slurry to the strawberry mix. this should make it thicken up in about 3 – 4 minutes. Spoon over warmed oatcakes and top with a dollop of whipped cream!

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DIY Floral-Infused Liquors and Syrups

Looking for a way to bottle up summer and serve it to your friends? Check out these vintage mix-and-match cocktail ideas created using nothing more than sugar, water and the flowers in bloom. And if you have some extra petals, this article also shows how to make your own sugared blossoms for garnish!

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“Leprechaun Loafer” Chocolate-Dipped Butterscotch Cookies

St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner and to celebrate, the little guy and I are making some Leprechaun Loafer Cookies for his classmates. This recipe is for a butterscotch cookie dipped in dark chocolate and decorated to look like a little leprechaun left his golden, buttery shoe behind while looking for places to hide his treasure. Enjoy!
“Leprechaun Loafer” Chocolate-Dipped Butterscotch Cookies
leprechaun shoe cookies
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cup butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 oz. dark chocolate chips
frosting (for decorating)
  • Combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt) and set aside.
  • Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat until the butter starts to brown. You’ll be able to tell it’s browning when the butter starts to smell warm and nutty, and small brown particles form at the bottom of the saucepan. When the particles appear, take the butter off quickly so it won’t burn.
  • Mix the butter with the brown sugar thoroughly, then set aside to cool. It’s okay if the sugar/butter mix is warm, but if it’s too hot it will cook the egg.
  • Once the sugar/butter mixed has cooled, add the egg and beat until the mixture resembles mayonnaise.
  •  Add the vanilla.
  • Add the flour mixture a little at a time and mix until combined.
  • Roll dough into a log and wrap in waxed paper. Let chill in freezer for approximately 2 hours or in the refrigerator overnight.
  • cookie roll
  • Preheat oven to 375 F.
  • Shape the cookie roll until it’s slightly oval, like a shoe, and cut into cookies about 1/4 inch thick. Take 1/3 of the cookies and cut them in half, placing them on top of the full cookies to give the “shoes” their shape.
  • unbaked shoes
  • Place shoe cookies on parchment paper on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 9 – 11 minutes. When just golden and lightly brown around the edges, they’re done!
Chocolate Dipping
Edward loved these cookies plain, but to make them look like leprechaun shoes, we needed a good coating of dark chocolate.
  1. To do this, melt your 6 oz. of dark chocolate chips in a double boiler or, like I do, in a small bowl perched on top of a saucepan filled with water and simmering on the stove.
  2. Once the chocolate is melted, dip each shoe in the chocolate and brush on with a pastry brush. I used a skewer stuck through the thickest part of each cookie to manipulate it in the chocolate.
  3. Remove the coated cookie and place on a sheet of parchment or waxed paper.
  4. Chill until set – about 1/2 hour.
  5. Decorate with the frosting and a pastry bag, adding a buckle and the “opening” on the top of the shoe. If you don’t have a pastry bag, just put the frosting in a zip-loc and snip off a bottom corner edge; it works just as well!

NOTE: for my frosting, I used the leftovers from my salted caramel butter cupcakes and lightly colored the frosting with turmeric. But you can use a simple cream cheese frosting from the grocery store. You don’t need much; just enough to add the details.

 row of cookies

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Vintage 1851 Strawberry Syrup Recipe

One of the most popular cookbooks in my hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, is Charleston Receipts. Put together by the Junior League of Charleston in 1950, the cookbook is full of classic Charleston recipes and to date has sold more than 1 million copies. But it’s not my favorite Charleston-based cookbook. For this classic collection of receipts you have to go back a few more years. Almost 100, in fact.

The Carolina Housewife was compiled by Charleston native Sarah Rutledge and published in 1851, when women were rarely found in the publishing world. The cookbook consists of an amazing variety of recipes, from “Spruce Beer” to “To Dress Salsify in Imitation of Fried Oysters” to “Charlotte of Brown Bread and Apples” and everything in between.

Since Florida strawberries are starting to show up in the markets, I thought I’d share one of Ms. Rutledge’s strawberry recipes. Along with classic recipes for strawberry sherbet and strawberry cream, she has a wonderful recipe for strawberry syrup; perfect for angel food cake, salted caramel ice cream (or your favorite ice cream!), or simply spooned in a cool glass of milk:

Strawberry Syrup (from Carolina Housewife, by Sarah Rutledge, 1851)

when the fruit is quite ripe, express the juice and strain it through a bag. To one pint of the juice, put one pound of loaf sugar; stir occasionally until the sugar is dissolved; then let it stand quiet, until the scum* rises, which will be quite thick. When that is taken off  [NOTE: use a spoon to remove the scum from the syrup] the syrup is fit for bottling  [or canning], which must be done without scalding [NOTE: that is, heat the strawberry syrup over low heat until boiling, then add to sterilized canning jars or bottles]. Cork the bottles tight, and keep them in in a cool place.

*The syrup must stand some time for the scum to rise, but requires watching to prevent its becoming mouldy or acid, which will be the case if the scum stands too long on it.

A good portion of the Carolina Housewife is available here on Google books, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in experimenting with vintage recipes.