Q: I am originally from the Southwest side of the city. I grew up on a Canasta cake made by Weber's Bakery on Archer Avenue. I live retired in Phoenix now and I can find nothing like it here. When I fly back from the city, I stop there and bring one back on the plane along with fresh Polish sausage and pierogi from Joe and Frank's at Archer and Harlem. Is there anyway to get that cake recipe? It is to die for.
—Bob Jensen, Phoenix
A: Monica Kass Rogers, the Evanston-based food writer, specializes in adapting vintage recipes from restaurants and bakeries into workable versions home cooks can make in home kitchens. She posts her work on her website, Lost Recipes Found (lostrecipesfound.com). She gladly took up the challenge of your Canasta cake question.
How to describe the cake? Here's Rogers on her website: "Two 8-inch square chocolate layers, with chocolate buttercream filling, chocolate fudge frosting and milk-chocolate jimmies trimming the sides, the Canasta cake is built on the premise that you can never get too much chocolate."
Below, you'll find the recipe Rogers developed and posted on her Web site. She credits the Charles Fingerhut Bakeries with creating the cake in the early 1950s after the Canasta card game craze had swept the country. Her recipe is based on one she said was shared with her by third-generation baker Michael Weber of Weber's Bakery, 7055 West Archer Ave., Chicago (webersbakery.com).
Give her home-oriented version a go and let me know what you think.
Monica Kass Rogers uses a Lindt Bittersweet Swiss chocolate bar in this recipe, which makes one two-layer, 8-inch square cake.
Canasta cake ingredients
1/2 cup whole milk
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
2 tablespoons shortening
3 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups cake flour