For the Hungry Crew

Here’s another delicous recipe from our friend Carolyn at

Chocolate Delight

I’ll admit it, I’m a chocoholic.  You too?  The problem is that so many chocolate treats are hard to make on a boat – either the ingredients are hard to store in hot weather, the baking process doesn’t lend itself to a galley oven, or the finished product does poorly in heat.

Here’s one recipe that works well.  My great-grandmother began serving this chocolate cake over 100 years ago, and it’s been a family favorite ever since.  It’s great on a boat, as it uses cocoa instead of baking chocolate, was intended to be mixed by hand and baked in a “moderate oven” fueled by wood – perfect for a somewhat temperamental galley oven.  Plus, the frosting won’t run in tropical heat!

Grandma Phila’s Chocolate Upside Down Cake

1 c. flour

2 t. baking powder (see note below)

¼ t. salt

1 ½ T. cocoa

¾ c. sugar

½ c. milk

2 T. melted butter, oleo or vegetable oil

½ t. vanilla

½ c. nuts

Place all ingredients in a bowl and stir to mix.  Pour into an ungreased 8”x8” pan (or anything that is reasonably close).  Let sit while you prepare the topping – which can be made in the same bowl (scrape the batter into the pan and you don’t need to wash the bowl).

½ c. brown sugar (if not available, use white and a smidge of honey or molasses)

½ c. sugar

5 T. cocoa

1 c. boiling water

Mix together and spoon over the mix in the baking pan.  You’ll notice that the cake mix will start to float to the surface – that’s normal.  Bake in a 350° oven for 35 minutes.  Cake is done when the top is uniformly dry, although the frosting mixture may bubble around the sides.  Don’t overbake!  Allow to cool before serving.

To serve, cut cake into pieces and slip a spatula under one slice.  Carefully take it out of the pan and flip it “upside down” onto a plate – the gooey frosting will now be on top.  Generally not all of the frosting will have come out of the pan.  If this happens, scrape the extra out and smooth it over the top of the slide.


Notes:  If you use a smaller pan, the mix will be thicker and you’ll probably have to bake it longer.  An 8” or 9” round pan works well, as does a 9” x 6” pan or even a bread pan.  This recipe doubles well to fill a 9 x 13 pan – baking time is approximately the same.

Be sure to store your baking powder inside a Ziploc™ bag, taking it out just long enough to measure the amount you need.  Humidity is the enemy of baking powder, since it reacts with moisture to raise the batter.  If it’s already reacted with moisture in the air, it won’t do anything for your batter.  I learned this the hard way, with a very flat cake!

If I make this while underway or in a rolly anchorage, I measure the cup of water for the topping when I put it into the teakettle to heat, then just pour it into the mixing bowl.  Much safer than trying to measure boiling water in a moving boat.

Courtesy of The Boat Galley Cookbook

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