When she was a young girl, my grandmama had to work in the field along with her brothers and sisters. They lived in East Texas where the summers can be hot and humid, so picking cotton, hoeing weeds, and all those other jobs, were miserable work. She learned early on that if she offered to bake everyone a cake, they would take up the slack very eagerly. This is the recipe she used. She has had a LONG time to perfect it. I remember watching her make it when I was a very little girl. She never used a recipe. My sister was able to get the recipe down by measuring everything before it went into the batter!
Grandmama's Chocolate Cake
Prepare four 8" cake pans by greasing, cutting parchment or waxed paper circles to put on the bottoms of the pans, grease bottom again. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cups boiling water
Mix the cocoa and water and set aside to cool.
1 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
Cream shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add:
Mix well, then add cooled cocoa/water mixture.
2 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Add alternately to first mixture with 1 1/2 cups milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Pour into the four pans.
Bake about 20 to 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Don't over bake!
Halfway through baking, start the icing. It will be used on the hot layers.
In a deep iron skillet (or a heavy saucepan), mix: NOTE: We almost always double this!)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup butter
Cook, stirring constantly, until a full rolling boil. Boil just a couple of minutes, then remove from heat and spoon on hot layers.
Spooning the fudge on the cake is the hardest part. Place one layer on the cake plate, poked holes with a knife all over the layer, then pour some icing on and spread it over the layer. Repeat with all layers. After the last layer, spread the fudge over the sides. It will be hot and will run down until it starts to set up. Just keep spreading it until it stays in place on the cake.
This is not usually a pretty cake! It will probably be lopsided, but in our family we always say that the uglier it is, the better it tastes!