The primary time I heard of mayonnaise cake, I used to be standing in a Michelin-starred kitchen. It was the top of my meal and my server had kindly invited me again for a kitchen tour. My server inspired me to open any of the fridges within the spotless house. I threw open the doorways of 1 and located myself face-to-face with the final ingredient I anticipated to see: an enormous jug of Hellmann’s mayonnaise. “Oh, that,” he mentioned with a wave. “The pastry crew makes use of it for chocolate cake.”
Mayonnaise? In chocolate cake? In the chocolate cake I had simply eaten for dessert on the finish of the tasting menu?
I used to be intrigued.
Mayonnaise truffles are, in reality, a factor—and one with a protracted historical past. I’ve seen many sources that attribute the rise of the mayonnaise cake to the Nice Despair, when eggs and dairy had been scarce. The historical past of the cake, nevertheless, is far more complicated. Whereas the primary recipe for mayonnaise cake appeared in print in 1927 within the Oakland Tribune, it didn’t develop into standard till the Forties, when components like dairy and sugar had been rationed throughout World Warfare II. Oakland Tribune author Martha Lee was the primary to share a recipe for the cake—with dates, walnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cocoa powder—in her newspaper column “House Economics Division.” Lee’s recipe, nevertheless, doesn’t name for the readymade condiment. As an alternative, Lee instructs readers to whip up an impromptu mayonnaise by whisking an egg with half a cup of oil earlier than including it to the cake batter. (Eggs and oil are typical cake components, so the concept of utilizing mayonnaise in a cake will not be as far-fetched as one may suppose.)
Ten years later, the mayonnaise cake was popularized by Mrs. Frank Value, who was married to a salesman for Hellmann’s and Greatest Meals. Value pitched her recipe—which did name for readymade mayonnaise—to the corporate as a method to enhance gross sales. In 1937, Greatest Meals included Value’s recipe in its booklet Muffins and Cookies With Persona: Thrilling New Recipes for Muffins, Cookies, and Frostings. After the booklet’s publication, recipes for mayonnaise truffles began appearing extra often in newspapers. Corporations shortly took notice: In 1939, Redwood Empire Mayonnaise printed its cake recipe in The Sebastopol Instances, and within the Forties, Kraft joined the celebration with its personal recipe for Miracle Whip Cake.
The cake grew to become much more standard when editors and cooks began advertising it as a “$100 chocolate mayonnaise cake.” In 1951, Winnifred Jardine, a columnist on the Deseret Information in Salt Lake Metropolis, Utah, shared a recipe for this cake, which she picked up at a convention in Chicago. The $100 cake recipe, which was printed in a number of newspapers from that period, was rumored to have originated from New York Metropolis’s glamorous Waldorf Astoria resort. An article in The Huntsville Instances from 1949, nevertheless, reveals that the unique $100 cake from the resort had no mayonnaise in it in any respect, not like the recipe Jardine shared two years later. Quite, it relied on butter, eggs, and milk for moisture. Due to a protracted recreation of phone, the chocolate cake from the resort had someway develop into conflated with the mayonnaise cake, boosting the recognition of an odd-sounding cake.
The cake was successful amongst homemakers. Corporations marketed it as a faster, simpler, and extra inexpensive method to bake, with headlines like “Acquire Pace With Mayonnaise Cake,” and promoting textual content like “Mayonnaise cake is on the lips and mouth [sic] of many ladies nowadays. Straightforward to make, it should be good!” In 1961, Hellmann’s added a cake recipe to the again of its mayonnaise jars. Quickly, the corporate was operating ads for mayonnaise cake in newspapers and magazines, claiming their product was the key to a moister, richer cake.
However does the condiment truly produce a greater cake?
In a 2001 piece for the Los Angeles Instances, meals author Marion Cunningham famous, “The usage of mayonnaise, which appears puzzling in a cake, does two issues: It provides the cake a luscious richness, and it retains it moist and recent tasting for for much longer than a traditional cake.”
Though I can’t discover proof that mayonnaise makes a longer-lasting cake, the sentiment that the condiment makes a softer cake is echoed by Rose Levy Beranbaum in her e-book The Cake Bible, and in an experiment performed by America’s Check Kitchen, which discovered that truffles made with mayonnaise had been moister than these with out it. The emulsion—which occurs due to the lecithin in egg yolk—helps the fats extra evenly and effectively coat flour particles, making for a softer, moister cake.
I made the Hellmann’s cake one night lately, with zero expectations. Wouldn’t it reside as much as the hype? Wouldn’t it style like mayonnaise? The cake was precisely what the corporate had promised: It was fast, straightforward, and moist. It took me fewer than ten minutes to whip all the things collectively in my mixer, and once I requested my husband to guess what the key ingredient was, he had no thought. Will I ever reveal the key? Most likely not.
Chocolate Mayonnaise CakeMatt Lewis Renato Poliafito
Initially Appeared on Epicurious