Gale Gand’s Brooklyn Blackout Cake

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I’m putting this post up again, in answer to a request for this Ebinger bakery classic. This recipe comes to us compliments of Chicago-based chef and baker, Gale Gand, who went to great lengths to re-created the Blackout Cake. As Gale tells it: “Ebinger’s was a chain of bakeries in Brooklyn renowned for the purity of its ingredients, the sparkling cleanliness of its stores, and the deep chocolatey-ness of this cake. Even though the last Ebinger’s finally closed in 1972, devotees kept Blackout Cakes in their freezers for years afterwards.” Recreating the cake, Gand didn’t have access to one of these freezer fossils for analyzation purposes. Instead, she relied on the taste-memories of Ebinger’s fans who grew up in Brooklyn. Gand included this group as her taste-panel.  Says Gand, “They’re a tough crowd, but they tell us we’ve finally got it right. The custard filling is finally the perfect deep, velvety, very, very, dark brown.”

Makes One, nine-inch cake

Cake Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup whole, 2% fat, or 1% fat milk

Custard Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Scant 2/3 cup cornstarch
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Cut 2 circles of parchment paper or waxed paper to fit the bottoms of the pans, then press them in. Butter and flour over the parchment.
  3. In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or using a hand mixer), cream the butter and shortening together. Add the sugar and mix until light and fluffy. One by one, add the eggs, mixing after each addition. With the mixer running at low speed, add the vanilla, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and mix. With the mixer running at low speed, add about 1/3 of the cake flour, then about 1/3 of the milk, and mix. Repeat with the remaining cake flour and milk and mix.
  4. Pour into the prepared pans and bake until dry and springy to the touch and until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean (a few crumbs are OK), 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 15 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks and let cool completely to room temperature.
  5. Using a long, serrated-edged knife, cut the cake layers horizontally in half.LRF note: I slipped waxed paper between layers to make it easier to move and stack these when filling/frosting the cake. Reserving 3 halves for the cake, put the remaining half in a food processor, breaking it up with your hands. Pulse into fine crumbs. (You can also crumble by hand.) LRF Note: I toasted the crumbs in the oven at 300 until they were dry, and then crushed with rolling pin for more uniform, crunchy texture.
  6. Meanwhile, make the custard: Pour 2 1/2 cups of the water, the sugar, corn syrup and cocoa powder into a large nonreactive saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally. Watch carefully–once it reaches boiling the mixture will volumize quickly and you don’t want it to spill over.
  7. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the remaining 1/2 cup of water and the cornstarch. Whisk into the cocoa mixture in the saucepan and return the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly.
  8. Cook, whisking constantly, until very thick, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla. Pour into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, lightly pressing the plastic against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill until firm, about 45 minutes.
  9. To finish the cake, place a cake layer on a cake plate or serving platter (reserving the most even layer for the top) and spread with cooled custard. Top with another layer of cake, then custard, then one more layer of cake. Cover the top and sides of the cake with the remaining custard. Coat the cake with the cake crumbs. Chill until ready to serve, at least 2 hours. Serve the same day.

One thought on “Gale Gand’s Brooklyn Blackout Cake

  1. This cake is very similar to the chocolate blackout cakes that were sold by two of Rochester, NY’s local bakery departments, in both the Sibley, Lindsay, and Curr Company’s downtown store, and in the once-locally owned Star Market supermarket bakeries. it was a rich chocolate cake with a thick, rich chocolate filling.

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