Old Fashioned Fudge Cake with Walnuts

When my friend Mike Franzman, the talent behind mf photography, recently shared this recipe of his Aunt Elvie’s Fudge Cake with Walnuts, I just knew I had to challenge myself and try to make it.

homemade fudge cake with walnuts recipe

As anyone who’s been following my blog knows, I don’t eat a lot of sweets nor do I often attempt to make them. I love to cook but I’m not much of a baker, so this recipe, with its lack of directions or even ingredient amounts for the frosting, intrigued me. It seemed like a terrific challenge for me plus I knew if it came out great, my husband would love me even more than he already does.

For the sake of authenticity, I wanted to follow the recipe to the letter, but I admit I changed one minor thing: I added an extra teaspoon of vanilla extract. Here is Elvie’s recipe, with that extra teaspoon of vanilla:

Homemade Fudge Cake with Fudge Frosting Recipe

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk (I used whole organic since I already had it on hand and I figure Aunt Elvie as a whole milk kind of lady anyway)
  • 1/2 cup + 1 rounded teaspoon cocoa powder mixed together in a small bowl with 1/3 cup hot water

Preheat the oven to 350°

Grease and flour 2 eight or nine-inch cake pans. (mine measured 8 1/2 on their interior)

And here’s how I put it all together:

  • In a large bowl (I used my stand mixer) cream together the sugar, eggs, shortening and vanilla extract
  • In a separate bowl, using a fine mesh colander or flour sifter, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt
  • Add the flour mixture, milk, and cocoa/hot water mix to the creamed ingredients and blend it all together well
  • Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl well and then resume mixing for about 3 more minutes or until well blended
  • Pour the mixture into 2 greased & floured cake pans, dividing the batter equally between pans
  • Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes (I baked mine for 35)

Ta Da! I achieved cake!

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I let the cakes cool in their pans for 15 minutes and then gently ran a butter knife around the edges before turning them over onto plates.

Probably everyone who’s made any kind of cake requiring frosting has tried to frost it right away and most likely everyone, including me, has found this to be a recipe for a crumbly disaster.

So while my cakes continued to cool, I tackled the frosting.

I did a little internet research on frosting made with Aunt Elvie’s ingredients and it seems that it’s a pretty standard mix of ingredients. The amount of each ingredient varied a lot though, depending on the recipe, so I just went for it and here’s how I made the chocolate frosting:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, completely softened
  • 4 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder

Now, these amounts are approximate – I played around with the sugar and milk a bit to get the consistency I was looking for. You may like it a little thinner, thicker, or sweeter, depending on your taste.

  • Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla
  • Add milk and cocoa and beat until well blended and fluffy

Once the cakes had cooled, I set one layer on a large plate and added a good amount of frosting to it. Then I sprinkled on about a cup of walnut pieces, so there’d be walnuts inside the layer. I then added a little frosting to the bottom of the second layer and set that frosted bottom on top of the walnuts.

Then I frosted the rest of the cake and sprinkled chopped walnuts all over it. Mike remembers Elvie’s cake with whole walnut halves on top but, sadly, I didn’t have any whole walnut halves to get decorative with. Hopefully, his Aunt Elvie will forgive me.

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The results? Delicious! My husband has set about devouring it, though I admit I had a good-sized piece myself. I had to at least try it, right?

Thanks again to Mike for letting me share this recipe and story – it was a fun challenge for me. I truly feel that I did his Aunt Elvie’s recipe justice and I’m thrilled that I, a non-baker, pulled this off so well. I credit the recipe here, much more than the cook.

This experience has made me want to dig through my own pile of old recipe cards and see what I discover. Do you have any old family recipes that you still make?

19 thoughts on “Old Fashioned Fudge Cake with Walnuts

  1. Mike Franzman says:

    This looks incredible! It was actually my dad’s aunt, so the recipe was even older. My mom remembers it being very cocoa-tasting, and delicious. 🙂

    • It was absolutely delicious Mike! The cocoa flavor is fantastic and I love that I got to make it from scratch, without a ton of preservatives or additives that come in a box. I’ll take my chances with the real stuff any day.

  2. RoscoeRamblings says:

    Just pinned this to my Dessert board on Pinterest! I can’t wait to revisit this recipe the next time I’m in the mood for cake.

    • Thanks! It’s been a long, long time since I attempted a flour cake from scratch, though there’s an awesome flourless one I make that I’ll have to post soon. This was a good challenge for my not-so-fantastic baking skills.

    • You being such an accomplished baker I’m betting you could put a great spin on this. Being a classic cake, it’s not quite as rich or moist as a lot of cakes today. I’m sure yours would be much nicer to look at as well. 🙂 Thank you!

    • Wow! Thank you so much Mike – this is very nice of you! I’m looking forward to giving you a wonderful shout-out and sharing this with some other great bloggers. I’ll put a post together and thanks again!

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