German Chocolate Scratch Cake w/Icing

This was my grandmother’s recipe. It is a super moist scratch cake that is not too dense. It has a very nice texture and has always been a family favorite. I like this cake so much, that I have often thought of leaving out the cocoa to see how it stands up as a vanilla scratch cake. I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!


Amount Ingredient 2 1/4 Cups Granulated Sugar 2 Eggs 2 TBSP Cocoa Powder 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract 1/4 tsp salt 1 Cup Shortening 3 Cups Flour 2 Cups Buttermilk 2 tsp Baking Soda 2 1/4 Cups Granulated Sugar 1 1/2 Cans Evaporated Milk 3 TBSP All Purpose Flour 3/4 Cup Salted Butter, melted 1/2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract 1 1/2 Cups Pecans OR Walnuts, Chopped 1 1/2 Cups Shredded Coconut


For Cake:

Cream together Shortening and 2 1/4 C Sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well between additions. Add vanilla and buttermilk slowly, until incorporated. In a separate bowl, combine 3 C flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa. Slowly add flour mixture to liquid, mixing until well incorporated. Pour into (2) greased and floured 9-inch cake pans and bake in pre-heated 350* oven until edge of cakes starts to separate from pans.

For Icing:

My grandmother always made her icing in the microwave to save time, but you can make it stove top. I am giving the directions for the Microwave.

Combine 2 1/4 C sugar, 3 TBSP flour, evaporated milk, melted butter, and vanilla in a large microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high heat 5 minutes at a time, stirring well after each time, until icing becomes thick and gooey. Let cool completely, then mix in coconut and nuts. Frost completely cooled cakes.

Comments (15)


Mistypup, the cans of evaporated milk should be 12 ounces each, but remember you only want to use 1 1/2 cans. Sorry I didn't specify the size, but I can only remember seeing evaporated milk in one size never occurred to me that they came in different sizes, lol.


I have never tried to use butter instead of shortening...but the shortening and buttermilk are what make this cake so moist. So if you do try it with butter, please let us know how it turns out ;-)


I just made this recipe and the batter tasted great and it smells great. However, it sunk like crazy. Is this normal?


No that is not normal. Make sure that your oven is pre-heated. It sounds like maybe you didn't cook it long enough. Bake it until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan.


Mine sank too : ( At about 35 minutes in i was bummed. German chocolarw is my husband's favorite I am in Colorado so msybe altitude issues. Any ideas?


For the icing, is it only for 5 minutes then stirring at every minute, or stirring every 5 minutes and for how long? I'm a little confused with the phrase. :) Thanks


This is a family recipe and I have never had the cake fall. Not sure what is going on there. I know sometimes scratch cakes can be kind of finicky. If you mix too long it will fall...if you don't mix long enough it will fall, etc. My grandmother never sifted her flour for this. She scooped the flour into her measuring cup instead of spooning it in. And she didn't add ingredients in slowly...she just put everything together in one bowl and started mixing. Mix just long enough to get most of the lumps out of the batter, but no longer, and then bake immediately. For high altitude baking: I added asterisks to ingredients that have high altitude instructions. DO NOT OVERMIX. In high altitude areas, the air bubble in a cake rise to quickly making the cake rise very high, but then it deflates. Also, it will help when baking any cake, but especially in high altitudes, to buy some metal flower nails (used to make roses, etc.) and use them as a heating core so that it bakes evenly (the center will get done at the same time as the edges). Simply place the nail in the center of your pan, flat side down, and pour your batter over it. Remove flower nail after baking. Also, maybe the ingredients list and directions are a little confusing because the ingredients for the cake and icing is combined? Lets try it like this:

German Chocolate Cake

*2 1/4 C Sugar 2 eggs 2 TBSP Cocoa Powder 1 tsp vanilla 1/4 tsp salt 1 C shortening 3 C All purpose flour *2 C buttermilk *2 tsp baking soda

Put all ingredients in bowl and mix. Bake at 350 until done * For high altitude, try reducing the sugar by 2-3 TBSP and increasing the buttermilk by 2-3 TBSP. Reduce the baking soda by 1/8-1/4 tsp. Also increase the temp to 375.

German Chocolate Icing

2 1/4 C sugar 1 1/2 cans evaporated milk 3 TBSP flour 3/4 C butter 1/2 tsp vanilla 1 1/2 C pecans or walnuts 1 1/2 C flaked coconut

We like alot of icing, so we always make 1 1/2 recipes. Melt butter. Then mix together everything EXCEPT coconut and nuts. You will microwave in a large microwave safe bowl in 5 minute increments. (microwave for 5 minutes, stop, stir, microwave 5 minutes again, stop, stir, etc.). I don't know how long it will take each person because each microwave cooks differently. Keep cooking until icing becomes thick and gooey. Let cool completely, then add the nuts and coconut. Use to ice completely cooled cake.

Hope this helps...this really is an awesome recipe. Everyone who has ever had it says it is the best they have ever had.


I did make it and it was some of the best cupcakes I've ever made. Your recipe is to die for. After I wrote the comment, it clicked in,lol. I tried in the microwave, however, my micro self shut after 20 minutes of overheating. So I to use my double boiler, and it turned out great. Thanks again for the recipe. I think it 's on of my favs. :)


I made this cake last night. It came out moist but doesn't taste like chocolate. Is 2 TBSP of cocoa powder the correct amount?


yes, 2 TBSP is the correct amount. This is not a traditional chocolate has a light chocolate flavor and a reddish brown color. This cake should not be confused for a traditional chocolate cake that can be iced with any type of frosting. It is a traditional german chocolate and only tastes right with german chocolate frosting. (trust me, I once tried it with chocolate fudge buttercream...they did not complement each other lol)