Mayonnaise Chocolate Cake – a 1940s Recipe

One of my Christmas gifts this year was a small 4-½ x 6 inch leather bound book engraved “Cooking Recipes”, purchased at an antique mall in Sugar Creek, Ohio.  The pages are edged in gold and there are 10 index tabs for food categories.  

The real gold in this book, though, is the collection of handwritten recipes.  There aren’t a lot of recipes – just 25, 22 of which are desserts.  The book itself could have been from the 1930s, but I believe the recipes are from the 1945-1950 era.  This is based on a lot of recipes calling for shortening, for using the word “oleo” rather than margarine in most recipes and the attention given to oven temperatures.  I believe it’s post-World War II because of all of the sugar-laden desserts.

The handwriting is clear and ingredients are listed correctly, although most of the recipes give no idea of how the item is to be prepared, what kind of pan to use or how long to bake.  That’s why I’ve decided to make each of the recipes, using the products specified, and adding my own instructions.  I like to think that the woman from the 1940s kitchen (who would have been about my mother’s age) would enjoy having someone fuss around with these recipes again and turn out some delicious food for the family.

This is a good, family-style cake – soft and moist, but not too rich.  Normally, I use a reduced-fat, olive oil based mayonnaise but since the mayonnaise is replacing eggs and shortening in this recipe, I went with the full-fat version (Hellman’s Real Mayonnaise).


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup regular mayonnaise (not low fat)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F for a glass pan, 350 degrees F for a metal pan
Grease and flour a 9 inch baking pan

In the large bowl of a mixer, beat together the sugar, water and mayonnaise.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and cocoa.

Add the dry ingredients to the mayonnaise mixture and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Pour into prepared pan …

…and bake in preheated oven for approximately 40 minutes or until cake tests done when a tester is inserted in the center of the cake.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack.

Keep cake in pan and when cool, frost with:


  • 2 cups powdered sugar, divided
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3-4 Tblsp. cream (or evaporated milk)

Place 1 cup of powdered sugar, cocoa, salt, butter and vanilla in mixer bowl.  Beat for one minute.  Gradually add remaining cup of powdered sugar alternately with cream until of desired consistency.

Frost top of cake.

Makes 9 servings

Shannon’s Curry Chicken Salad

This chicken salad with curry, apples and almonds has become our favorite over the past 4 or 5 summers.  Following is the recipe for one generous serving but, of course, it can be multiplied by as many people as you want to feed.  I like to have this salad with a good homemade roll.


  • Servings: One Serving
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  • 1 cup of cooked chicken, shredded
  • 1/2 tart apple, chopped (Golden Delicious, Granny Smith)
  • 1 Tblsp. toasted slivered almonds
  • 1 Tblsp. raisins
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (I like to use Hellman’s Light)
  • 1/2 tsp. curry powder

In a small bowl, combine chicken, apple, almonds and raisins.  In a cup, combine mayonnaise and curry powder.  Mix the mayonnaise mixture with the chicken mixture, cover and refrigerate for an hour or so.

Makes one delicious serving.