Food & Drink

Grant Achatz's family recipe for chocolate birthday cake

Chi-town's experimental pioneer Grant Achatz wasn't always blasting pastries with liquid nitrogen. Growing up, his mom would use a basic chocolate birthday cake recipe that, to this day, excites him as much as a molecular masterpiece.

Grant's Chocolate Cake
Grant Achatz, Alinea (Chicago)
Grant's mom used to make this cake for him as a kid. The cake is still a family favorite, as he and his mother make it for his kids every year on their birthdays. And considering a reservation at Alinea is so difficult to score, we presume his kids have to reserve their dad 2mos in advance.

Makes 2
1/2 cup Crisco
1tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs separated
2 1/2 cups sifted flour
1/2 cup cocoa or 2 2/3 bars
1 1/2tsp baking soda
1tsp salt
1 1/3 cups cold water

1. Cream Crisco and 1 cup sugar until light.

2. Add vanilla and egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each.

3. Sift together dry ingredients (except remaining sugar); add to creamed mixture alternately with cold water, beating after each addition, set aside.

4. Beat egg whites 'till soft peaks form; gradually add remaining 3/4 cup sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Fold into batter; blend well.

5. Bake in two greased-and-floured pans at 350 degrees for 35 to 40mins.