Friday, January 24, 2014


A note from DivaGlinda:

I don't know where my mother-in-law got this recipe for HENRICI CAKE, but it was a favorite in my husband's family, supposedly passed along from someone connected to Henrici's Restaurant. The original restaurant had been a fixture in downtown Chicago, founded in the mid-1800's. I don't remember that location, but do remember when Henrici's Restaurant was at Oak Brook Center.

My mother-in-law passed the recipe along to me. My husband says that when his mom first made it she used a tube pan - the kind used for angel food cake. But by the time she gave me the recipe everyone had a bundt pan and that's what I used. Here's the recipe as I received it:


Beat together until fluffy:
3/4 cup butter
1 ½ cups sugar

Beat in 3 eggs one at a time

Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or almond extract to 1 cup milk

Sift 3 cups flour with 3 teaspoons baking powder and a pinch of salt

Add flour to butter/egg mixture in three parts, alternating with milk. (End with flour.)

Heavily butter a tube pan. Line pan with ½ cup chopped nuts mixed with 2 Tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.

Pour batter into pan

Bake at 375°F for 50 minutes

Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Invert pan onto plate leaving pan loosely on cake or cover until cake is completely cooled.

I've changed this old-fashioned recipe a little over the years - usually I double the vanilla, reduce the sugar to a rounded cup, and I use the crunchier turbinado or demerara sugar instead of white sugar for the nut topping. If the nuts are almonds I use almond extract instead of vanilla.

You can make the cake richer by adding a package of cream cheese to the butter & sugar and really beat it well. For another twist, use a microplane to zest a lime and add the zest to the cream cheese.  

Double the vanilla and throw in some mini chocolate chips.

You can grate in orange rind & add a couple of tablespoons of Southern Comfort for a different flavor.

Add cocoa or melted chocolate to 1/3 of batter and swirl into the white part to make marble cake

Add dark cocoa to batter and make chocolate pound cake… it will need a few more tablespoons of milk. I made the chocolate version last fall as the dessert for my Divas of the Dirt garden project day, covering it in chocolate fudge frosting and adding pecans.

Once upon a time in the midwest, people made doll cakes for girls' birthdays and they also made Bride doll cakes for wedding showers.

Commercial doll-cake molds are available now, but back then a bundt pan and a glass bowl were combined to make a doll with a Scarlet O'Hara silhouette.

The Henrici cake recipe worked well to make the base of this doll cake. First up the ingredients by 1/3 (4 eggs, 1 cup shortening, 4 cups flour, etc.) so you'll have some extra batter. This batter was baked in a small, ovenproof bowl. When inverted on top of the bundt cake, the bowl cake became part of the dress, ready for a half-doll on a pick.


I don't know if anyone still does this - bridal gowns looked more like cakes in those days, but modern brides go strapless & slinky!

[This post was inspired by a twitter conversation with @shytowngirl and @ChuckHenrici about Henrici's Restaurant and the frequently shared recipe.]


Anonymous said...

My family made this recipe also, with one addition. When the cake was cooled and on its platter, slowly drizzle on about 1/2 cup of honey. I use it as a honey cake for the holidays.

Cheryl from Ohio

Annie in Austin said...

Hi Cheryl - sounds like a sweet family tradition - thanks for commenting!

Glinda/Annie in Austin