Brownstone Front Cake

Baking By havingfun Updated 16 May 2009 , 10:32pm by maryjsgirl

havingfun Posted 6 May 2009 , 12:08am
post #1 of 36

I need a good recipe for a Brownstone Front Cake with the Cooked Sugar Icing. Especially need help with making the cooked icing and it not sliding off the cake!! I have been asked to make this for an older lady who used to make them for her family and is no longer able to make it. That is pressure!! Thanks for all the help!

35 replies
linedancer Posted 6 May 2009 , 10:33am
post #2 of 36

Does the family have the recipe? My Grandmother used to make these, as you say with the cooked icing, but my Mother has never been able to find the recipe. Hope someone out there has it, I would love to be able to make these.

havingfun Posted 7 May 2009 , 12:27am
post #3 of 36

No, I do not have access to the recipe. I really hope someone can help!!

linedancer Posted 7 May 2009 , 11:33am
post #4 of 36

Darn icon_sad.gif I am at my Mother's right now and ask her about Grandma's recipes. She does have a "recipe book" down in the basement. I am here for only a day or two, but will see what I can find out..

cutthecake Posted 7 May 2009 , 11:46am
post #5 of 36

What is a Brownstone Front Cake? I've never heard of it. Is it a design (of a brownstone house) or a recipe? It sounds interesting, and I love to hear the stories behind recipes.

havingfun Posted 7 May 2009 , 1:17pm
post #6 of 36

cuthtecake, it is an old cake with unknown origins and made differently depending on your location. Yes, some say it got its name from the Brownstone houses up north. Down here in the south, it is a German Chocolate cake with a boiled sugar icing. The recipe I have for the icing is:
4 cups sugar, 1 large canned milk, 2.5 sticks of butter, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla. You boil it 15 min. (adding the vanilla off the heat) then cool it in an ice bath and ice the cake with it. It is a VERY difficult recipe in that it turns to sugar, won't setup, and is tempermental in the humidity. It ususally makes the layers slide apart if it is not the right consistency. So the icing is my biggest problem. I use the recipe off of the Baker's German Sweet Chocolate for the cake. It is yummy!! Any help with the icing is greatly appreciated!!

cutthecake Posted 7 May 2009 , 1:54pm
post #7 of 36

Thanks for the information, havingfun. I don't know anything about your icing, but I have a thought. When you cool it in an ice bath, are you supposed to whip it? That might help make it less runny. The seven minute frosting recipe I use doesn't use a water bath (I don't know if any of them do), but you do beat it for...well, 7 minutes! if the icing just sits in an ice bath, I don't know what happens to it.

bobwonderbuns Posted 7 May 2009 , 1:57pm
post #8 of 36

Huh this sounds interesting!! I thought you were looking for a design idea -- a cake that looked like a brownstone. Shows what I know! icon_lol.gif

havingfun Posted 7 May 2009 , 2:36pm
post #9 of 36

bobwonderbuns, I guess "one block from the edge of the earth.." ain't in the south!! LOL!!!! I have seen the recipe in my searches for a solution in historical Northern publications also, but they had a lighter cake than the German Chocolate cake. Thanks for helping me keep this thread active, and hopefully, we will all learn something today.

bobwonderbuns Posted 7 May 2009 , 2:42pm
post #10 of 36

Ha ha ha ha ha ha!! icon_lol.gif You're right, I'm not from the South! icon_biggrin.gif

havingfun Posted 7 May 2009 , 2:45pm
post #11 of 36

hmmm, maybe we can convert you with some good ol' southern Brownstone Front Cake!!

bobwonderbuns Posted 7 May 2009 , 2:46pm
post #12 of 36

Hey I'm game! icon_lol.gif (Just so long as you make it look like a good old fashioned NY brownstone!!) icon_biggrin.gif

havingfun Posted 7 May 2009 , 3:01pm
post #13 of 36

I don't think this icing is going to lend itself to being used as a tool for decorating! What does a brownstone look like anyway?

havingfun Posted 7 May 2009 , 4:02pm
post #14 of 36

o.k., the first attempt did not go so well. icon_cry.gificon_mad.gificon_cry.gificon_mad.gif
The icing turned to sugar before I could get it all on the cake. Surely there is someone out there that makes this cake. Please help!! I am begging icon_lol.gif I promise I will not share your secret to this cake with anyone!!

havingfun Posted 7 May 2009 , 9:15pm
post #15 of 36

Still hoping someone knows about this cake!

cutthecake Posted 7 May 2009 , 11:14pm
post #16 of 36

Brownstone: Think of the houses on Sesame Street! Wide front steps, two or three (maybe more) stories. I think the TV family Huxtables lived in one, and Carrie on Sex and the City, too.

havingfun Posted 7 May 2009 , 11:46pm
post #17 of 36

O.k., now I want you to think of rich, moist, german chocolate cake covered in an icing of butter and sugar cooked to soft ball stage, seeping while warm into the chocolate layers. This luscious cake is then covered in the buttery sugar icing that forms a crust on the outside, and then when you bite into it, it is soft and yielding and tempts your tastebuds to further explore the darkness of chocolate beneath it.....

cutthecake Posted 7 May 2009 , 11:56pm
post #18 of 36

I'll have two pieces, please! Sounds delicious. Now I want cake. Again.
What makes Brownstone Front Cake different from a regular German Chocolate Cake? I see there's no coconut in the Brownstone. What else is different?
The Ricardos and the Mertzes (I Love Lucy) lived in a Brownstone, too!

havingfun Posted 8 May 2009 , 12:13am
post #19 of 36

the icing is the difference in my recipe's case. The wonderful icing that causes all sorts of trouble for the lovers of this cake.

cutthecake Posted 8 May 2009 , 2:35am
post #20 of 36

havingfun, did you google "Brownstone Front Cake"? I found a bunch of recipes with the frostings, but I don't know which one you're looking for, and I don't know how to put the links here.

havingfun Posted 8 May 2009 , 2:45am
post #21 of 36

yes, I have googled the cake. I have all the recipes, I need help with the "how to". Thank you for helping me keep this thread going, although it appears I am not going to get any help. It really is a wonderful cake. I guess after someone tries once or twice, they just give up. I have one in the freezer, but I know there has to be some secret to the technique. It turned out really ugly, lopsided and all, but to my credit, I did not have to use any toothpicks. That is a joke among Brownstone lovers, how many toothpicks are there in the cake! The icing makes it all gooey and moist, so the layers fall apart. It is delightful!!

cutthecake Posted 8 May 2009 , 2:57am
post #22 of 36

Sorry I can't help solve your problem.......I'm a Yankee! But I'm tempted to make the cake some day. Good luck in your search.

linedancer Posted 8 May 2009 , 10:18am
post #23 of 36

Sorted through all of Grandma's recipes Mom could find yesterday, to no avail, though I did find her old chocolate chip cookie recipe, which were so good. Mom says she thinks there is another recipe book from a church, which is where Grandma supposedly got the recipe, so we are going to have another go. Grandma always made this a sheet cake, but I suppose you could make it in layers. I know the icing hardens fairly quickly, so frosting layers is probably quite a trick.. I will continue with the quest today.

cutthecake Posted 8 May 2009 , 11:31am
post #24 of 36

I love detective work!

havingfun Posted 8 May 2009 , 12:46pm
post #25 of 36

linedancer, thank you so much for all your hard work! cutthecake, you will definitely have to try the recipe! Maybe we need a thread about old timey recipes.

maryjsgirl Posted 8 May 2009 , 2:06pm
post #26 of 36

Do you use a candy thermometer while cooking the frosting? If not I would give that a try and make sure you don't cook past the soft ball stage.

Can you frost while it's still warm? Maybe the ice bath is setting it too much? Maybe even frost while the cake is still warm.

If it sets could you add some boiling water to the icing to get it soft again?

This cake sounds really interesting! I would love to see a pic when you finally conquer it!

linedancer Posted 9 May 2009 , 12:56am
post #27 of 36

OK ladies, with the help of my sister, I found Grandma's recipe. Here it is with some of the old timey instructions. Guess we will have to wing the time and temp, since she didn't say what that might be.

Grandma Moyers Brownstone Front Chocolate Cake

½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup cocoa
½ cup water

Combine, cook over low heat until it thickens a little. Cool.

1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup shortening
2 eggs
Pinch of salt
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon soda
½ cup milk

Cream sugar and shortening, add eggs, beat until well mixed. Add cooked mixture. Sift flour with baking powder, soda and salt. Add alternately with ½ cup milk. Bake in two layer pans, or one 9 x 13 sheet pan, greased and floured. Ice with caramel icing.

She did not specify what time and temp, but would probably be at 350 until it springs back when touched.

Caramel Icing

2 cups brown sugar
½ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix and cook over low heat until a soft ball forms in cold water. Cool, beat and spread on cake.

Or use:
2 cups brown sugar  2 Tablespoons butter
½ cup half and half   1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix and cook over low heat until a soft ball forms in cold water. Cool, beat and spread on cake.


I have not made this cake myself, just remember Grandma making it when I was a little girl. Someone make it and let me know how it turns out. My Mom says she used to make it too, but I don't remember eating it at home, just at Grandma's.. Have to tell you I had great fun looking w
through all her old recipes, and delighted to find ones I remember her making icon_smile.gif HTH someone.

havingfun Posted 9 May 2009 , 2:19am
post #28 of 36

linedancer, you are a true Perry Mason!! (are you old enough to know who that is?) icon_wink.gif I also love to look through old cookbooks and have many fond memories of food and family. The recipe is different from the one I use, but I am interested in trying the other icings! The one I have is
4 cups sugar
1 large can of milk
2.5 sticks of butter
2 teas vanilla
cook on medium, bring to a boil, boil 15 minutes, remove from heat and add vanilla.

My cake uses Baker's German Sweet Baking Chocolate. I will say it is one of the best chocolate cakes. (I love three: Chocolate Stout cake - with Guiness, Darn Good Chocolate Cake, and the German Chocolate recipe on the wrapper for the Baker's German Chocolate.

Thank you all again for your help. The cake looks bad, but I am hoping it will taste good. I am, as my husband says, anal about everything being level and straight, and this cake certainly is not! I am thawing it out tonight and we will see if it stays in one piece. This is one cake that truly benefits from freezing. I will have to take a picture when it is cut and show you it's luscious goodness! Thanks again!

Jeannem Posted 13 May 2009 , 3:28pm
post #29 of 36

Sounds like you're looking for a recipe for PENUCHE frosting without powdered sugar. I found one on Cooks.com (Grandma Terry's), that says to beat like fudge when cool. Perhaps that's the secret.

havingfun Posted 13 May 2009 , 5:10pm
post #30 of 36

Jeannem, thanks for the response. You cannot beat this icing once it sets up. It gets hard. Hard on the outside, and soft on the inside. I did take the cake to the party. The aunt that is famous for her Brownstone Front Cake assured me I had done a great job. Another older lady confirmed it, when she said I had "nailed" the recipe. I still think there has to be a secret, but maybe with practice, I will get better. I have been surprised at the lack of response. Aside from linedancer, it seems no one has ever heard of this cake. It really is a good cake.

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