Tuesday, August 21, 2012

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



         Don't miss Cleo's fun, multimedia post

                "24 Hours with Clare Cosi"

                      To read it, click here. 

                         As for that cake...

                              
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. 


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.



One of Ebinger's bakeries in Brooklyn.
To see more Brooklyn memories,
click here. (Photo courtesy of SCREA.)

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.)


More Brooklyn memories...
(Photo courtesy of SCREA.)

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."



Photos courtesy Secret Forts.
See more photos of the Brooklyn
Navy Yard
 
here.




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.

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.





Next week, I'll share the Blackout Cake recipe with you, 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...!




Yes, this is me - Cleo Coyle
Learn about my books here.

Friend me on Facebook here.
Follow me on Twitter here.
Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries


To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.







A BREW TO A KILL:
A Coffeehouse Mystery


A Barnes & Noble
"Must-Read" Mystery
of the month


Audiobook
produced by AudioGo
(BBC America)

"A satisfyingly 
rich mystery." ~ Kirkus

A Top-7 Hardcover Mystery
Bestseller, Nationwide
(Nielsen Bookscan)


Includes more than 20 
fun, delicious recipes...
To see many of them, click here!








As I mentioned above,
the Blackout Cake
plays an important role in my
Coffeehouse Mystery, 
Murder by Mocha,
now a bestseller in paperback.


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

71 comments:

  1. Sigh. Looks delicious but complicated. I could never get it to turn out that way. Do they ship? Just a wishful hope.

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    Replies
    1. I don't think they ship, but they are worth the trip!

      Thank you for joining in.

      ~ Cleo

      Delete
  2. That cake looks AMAZING! To funny about the box (I would keep it too), it is fun when little random things like that happen in the universe!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Always amazed and surprised by life, but I guess that keeps us hopping!

      Thanks for stopping by.

      ~ Cleo

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  3. This cake looks amazing. So glad I discovered your site!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please come back. You never know what surprises are in store.

      ~ Cleo

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  4. This looks so yummy! I would love to sport that T-shirt.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for stopping by. Come again next week for part two.

      ~ Cleo

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  5. LOL on the box!! As soon as I saw it my laser sharp spelling error eyes honed in on that ;-) I loved the walk through Brooklyn and the history behind the cake. I'm one of those weird birds that doesn't particularly care for chocolate thought everyone else at Chez Phillips loves it! I will be sharing this "tour and lesson" tonight over dinner...and I am sure that Chef Connor will be attempting his own Brooklyn Blackout next week!

    Thanks for sharing your world with us all.

    nanc

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    Replies
    1. And we'll all expect a full report on Connor's triumph. Eat with joy.

      ~ Cleo

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  6. Oh my! I have had a raging sweet tooth for a few days. One of these cakes could definitely take care of that. If only I could actually get one...sigh.

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    Replies
    1. The elusive blackout cake will make another appearance on this very sit next week. Be there or be square!

      ~ Cleo

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  7. Since I only live a few stops away, can I come on your next bakery tour? I gotta have one of these blackout cakes, it looks fabulous! I really enjoyed the history behind the cake and the bakery, but now I am dying for a piece! BTW, I caught the name on the box right away and thought it was funny too! Your kitty obviously has good taste since she/he likes the bag so much. . . Lol!

    Thanks for the chance to win the shirt, I hope it is me!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Oh, I'm sure you could show me a few bakeries, too! We're lucky we're in a genre that lets us indulge our sweet tooth as part of the job.

      ~ Cleo

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  8. Mmmmm I have been craving chocolate cake and this one looks amazing! I can't wait to read this book. :-)

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    Replies
    1. Hope you love the cake, and the book. Be well, and thanks for coming by.

      ~ Cleo

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  9. The cake looks and sounds DELICOUS. Chocolate cake is my favorite!!

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    Replies
    1. The Brooklyn Blackout Cake is the nuclear bomb of chocolate cakes. Eat with joy--and caution!

      ~ Cleo

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  10. That cake looks amazing, but learning the history of it was even more so. Can't wait to see the step-by-step.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, and we'll see you next week.

      ~ Cleo

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  11. That cake looks gorgeous. Thanks for the link to old Brooklyn. I brought back good memories.

    pps..thanks for the shout-out about my blog. Looking forward to reading about Clare's day.

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  12. I gained five pounds just READING about this cake!!!!!! WOW!! I would love to win and I will most definitely tune in for the cake recipe!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I heard a loud noise a little while ago. It was my bathroom scale trying to flee the apartment!

      ~ Cleo

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  13. What an impressive cake. I hope it tastes every bit as good as it looks! Yum!!

    ~ Krista

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Krista. This is one amazing chocolate cake. I think the key word here is "decadent."

      ~ Cleo

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  14. Wish I had a piece of that cake.... but will wait for the recipe next week!
    Alicia

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  15. I noticed "Mike" on the box before reading the explanation and chuckled to myself.

    That cake looks so good that now I can't wait for the recipe.

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    Replies
    1. Funny how the fictional and real worlds collide sometimes isn't it?

      Hope you enjoy the recipe, too.

      ~ Cleo

      Delete
  16. My chocolate loving husband will really enjoy that cake so I'm anxiously awaiting the recipe next week.
    suefarrell.farrell@gmail.com

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    Replies
    1. I don't think you or your husband will be disappointed. The only danger here is chocolate overdose.

      ~ Cleo

      Delete
  17. YUM!!!
    sarah2323 at gmail dot com

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  18. YUMMO!!!! Could you send me a piece through the computer right now!!!! I love reading your books and am reading a " Brew to a Kill" now.
    Mary
    Ladylotion@msn.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Enjoy Brew to a Kill. Perhaps in some future day we'll have computers that can send and receive food. That will spell the end of take out deliveries, and skinny people!

      Thanks for stopping by.

      ~ Cleo

      Delete
  19. That cake looks sooooooo good! My birthday is not until February, but I think your recipe is what I'm going to make for my cake :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Come back in February and I'll sing you a virtual "Happy Birthday!"

      ~ Cleo

      Delete
  20. I'm not supposed to be eating anything sweet this week! This picture made me want to get in the kitchen and bake......chocolate.....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chocolate is scary that way. Does it control our minds?

      Oh, well, I could think of worse fates!

      ~ Cleo

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  21. There is nothing like the New York bakeries. They have the best of everything. Blackout cake is one of my favorites. Entenman's used to make one that was pretty good, although not of a Brooklyn bakery quality. Cannoot wait for your Black out cupcake recipe to try.

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    1. I never knew Entenman's made a blackout cake, but I suppose it's history now. Thanks for sharing, and come back for that recipe.

      ~ Cleo

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  22. The cake looks yummy!
    Krista ladymluv@yahoo.com


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In this case looks are definitely NOT deceiving. Thanks for dropping in.

      ~ Cleo

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  23. My FIL grew up on Staten Island during the war- he has memories of blackout drills.
    If you have not already, check out MFK Fishers "How to Cook a Wolf" War time cooking dealing with rationing, blackouts and more, Fascinating read. Her "war cake" is not nearly as fabulous as yours.

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    1. Thanks for sharing those memories, and you are right--ration cooking is really a fascinating subject. Many of the foods I grew up with came out of World War II. My husband still makes one dish his father enjoyed in a B-17 wing of the Eighth Air Force. Creamed beef on toast is the polite name...His mother also made an icing out of Crisco, but let's not go there...

      ~ Cleo

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  24. Now I want to head right off to the bakery and get that cake! LOL! I grew up in Brooklyn and remember blackout cake well. Thanks for the stroll down memory lane and the chance to win the shirt. I willbe following you tomorrow at Dru's and will be reading A Brew To A Kill!

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    Replies
    1. Foodie memories are as much fun as food itself. Thank you for sharing yours. Enjoy Brew!

      ~ Cleo

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  25. That cake looks amazing! Thank you for sharing it with us. I especially wanted to say thank you for sharing the origins of the cake as well. I has a feeling it was about the blackouts from WWII. Some day, hopefully soon I will get down to the city to eat our way through! Brew To a Kill was Fantastic and I cannot wait for the next book. I double checked and it's been per-ordered since March! :-)
    Sue Gilot
    Guinnessgirl39@mac.com

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the kind words about Brew.

      I grew up close to strategically important steel foundries. and heard stories about the local blackout drills from my parents and grandparents. It sounded scary, but in Brooklyn you could drown your worries in chocolate, at least.

      ~ Cleo

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  26. That is one beautiful cake. I feel like I gained a pound just looking at the photo - and I feel that way reading about the wonderful recipes you put in your books. Loved Murder by Mocha!

    Beverly aka Booklady

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    1. Wow, I so love that you loved Murder by Mocha.

      FYI: You should try LIVING with this cake if you want a calorie uptick. It seems to call to me, day and night...it's voice so dark and rich and deep...

      ~ Cleo

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  27. I've never heard of this cake before and love the story of it. I'm going to ask around and see if anyone knows about it. Would love to have some right about now.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, and please do come on back and let us know if you find any blackout cake lovers/bakers out there. We'd all love to hear.

      ~ Cleo

      Delete
  28. OMIGAWD IT'S TORTURE TO WAAAAAAAAIT!!!!

    Wow, that cake looks amazing. That's *just* the right amount of chocolate for me!

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    Replies
    1. Because you can never, EVER have enough chocolate. Thank you for commenting, Wendy.

      ~ Cleo

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  29. that looks sooo amazing! Loved reading the history of it too :)

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    1. Food history is nearly as fascinating as food itself--I say "nearly as fascinating" as I reach for a slice of blackout cake! Eat with joy.

      ~ Cleo

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  30. That cake looks delicious. Can't wait for the recipe.

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    1. Think Carly Simon. "Anticipation..." It's only a short wait, I promise.

      ~ Cleo

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  31. my boys will be happy for me to try and make this

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    1. You'll have to come back and let me know how your boys like the blackout cake. Thank you so much for stopping by.

      ~ Cleo

      Delete
  32. Thanks to everyone who left comments! I'll be back soon to reply to as many of you as I can...

    In the meantime, don't miss my new comment-to-win giveaway at Dru's Book Musings. Leave a comment on my post, and you could win a signed copy of A BREW TO A KILL and an NYPD Latte Cup. To visit me there, click here, and read with joy!

    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
    “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

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  33. Oh goodness!! That looks like heaven. I so need that cake, gimme please!!!

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    1. If this were Star Trek , I'd have a slice beamed over to you.

      "Mr. Scott. Energize!"

      ~ Cleo

      Delete
  34. This cake looks fabulous! My hubby would love it - he's a chocoholic!

    Sue P.
    suepete12(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    Replies
    1. Your hubby is a wise, wise man. Thanks for stopping by.

      ~ Cleo

      Delete
  35. I always enjoy posts with some interesting background about a food's orgin! I am now looking forward to the recipe!!!

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    1. Aw, thanks, Lori! I hope you enjoy it. I know I'll enjoy having a second decadent chocolate cake in the fridge. Good thing it's the end of beach season. And, thanks to my deadlines, I haven't BEEN to the beach all summer. More chocolate cake, please. :)

      No kidding, I'm delighted you stopped by and I hope you enjoy next week's post, too.

      Cheers, Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

      Delete
  36. Wow!! Now I am going to have to go bake brownies or something, to get a chocolate 'fix' before the recipe is revealed!! Looks like the perfect cake to serve my friends with coffee (of course) on a rainy afternoon!! Thanks so much for sharing! And the photographs are scrumptious!

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  37. Thanks, K Mac. I know what you mean about the chocolate fix. I mean, I TOOK these photos and my mouth still waters when I look at them; and, yes, this cake tastes as good as it looks. The pudding sinks into the layers so it's a very rich, heavy cake--and it also keeps very well (in the fridge). Days later, it's still moist and chocolatey. OK, I'll stop now!


    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
    “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

    ReplyDelete
  38. Who doesn't like chocolate especially after seeing this? Though just the looks of it could send you into a diabetic coma...lol :)

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