Suzi's Blog

Seattle Oxblood Cake from Clementine Paddleford

Todays’ cocoa, and today’s buttermilk, have some different chemical properties than they did 60 years ago. Old fashioned cocoa could then give a cake a lovely “reddish” color — a color I believe that resembles the “red velvet” color so popular today.

This is a very good cake, that classic rich combination of cocoa and buttermilk. There are many variations around today, with shifts in ingredients such as adding touches of vanilla or even cinnamon. But here you have the original ancestor, and it’s a noble one.

Truthfully, the original recipe called for ⅔ cup of margarine and I’ve changed that to butter. And I’ve suggested creaming the butter first, on its own, before very gradually adding the sugar. That’s a lesson I’ve learned from Carole Walter, a friend and deeply respected author.

The cake can be knocked off in a few minutes. The Fudge Frosting [from the previous post here] is equally simple. The mathematics is direct: simple + simple = wonderful.

If you are having a party this holiday weekend, this is a classic dessert that will please everyone with a chocolate addiction. [For those poor folks who are not into chocolate, I’ll have dessert solution over the next two days!]

Seattle Oxblood Cake

Yield: one 9” X 13” sheet cake


  • ⅔ cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ¾ cup cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup hot water
  • Fudge Icing [see the prior post on this blog]


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13 x 9 x2” -inch pan.

Ii a large bowl using an electric mixer, cream the butter until fluffy. Slowly add the sugar over a two minute period, scraping the bowl frequently. Your goal is to have a mixture with no graininess. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. The addition of the first egg may be necessary to get that “smooth” batter with no grainy texture.

Add the flour and buttermilk alternately. In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and hot water. Fold this cocoa mixture into the butter-sugar-egg batter and stir just until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 1 hour, until springy and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack,

Frost with fudge icing and serve in squares.

Source: The Great American Cookbook by Clementine Paddleford



Chocolate Syrup

It’s there. Somewhere. On a back shelf. Up high. In that brown can or plastic bottle. By now it might resemble something concocted by Stephen King, except this is real, not fiction.

I am speaking, of course, about that container of chocolate syrup in your fridge. If you have children, then there is the possibility that the container is relatively fresh. But if those kids are gone, well, when was the last year you used that syrup? Yet, it’s there, sitting on shelf. Taking up space and only God knows what chemical transitions have occurred.

I like the brown cans. When it’s fresh, it’s good. After a few months, it’s different.

How about fresh, homemade and easy. And, you have the ability to control the level of sweetness and chocolate flavor? Here’s the recipe.

This one, too, comes from my favorite new book: Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Fries, & Shakes. Flay wants freshness and flavor control. This recipe is interesting because you use cocoa powder, not solid chocolate. Cocoa is chocolaty, yet it comes with that distinctive tang that subtly says, “I’m different.” Flay suggests using a good quality cocoa powder, and that’s a great point. An upscale cocoa will lend your syrup a sophisticated flavor.

This syrup is thick, rich, and just better than the regular stuff. Flay says it will last a week in the fridge. Not a chance.

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Chocolate Syrup


1 cup water
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
⅔ cup unsweetened good-quality Dutch-processed cocoa powder, such as Ghirardelli or Valrhona
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Place the water, sugar and corn syrup in a saucepan with tall sides. Bring to a boil over high heat. Whisk in the cocoa powder. [Note: when adding the cocoa powder at first to the boiling liquid, the mixture will bubble up; so, do a little cocoa powder at first and do use a saucepan with tall sides].

Cook until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Source: Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Fries, & Shakes