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Anita Page's Chocolate Layer Cake

"One of Hollywood's Modern Maidens gives a lesson in cake making".



Anita Page co-starred opposite some of the biggest names in Hollywood including Joan Crawford, Lon Chaney, Buster Keaton and was Clark Gable's first leading lady. She also starred in "The Broadway Melody" (1929), which was the first film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture in the sound era. She left the screen in the late 1930s to get married and have children. She isn't as well known today, except by die hard film fans.


The Recipe


I'll be honest, this is one of the trickiest recipes I've attempted so far. The ways this was written is BONKERS. It doesn't list a baking time or even a temperature, so I just guessed and baked it at 350 for 30 minutes. I think many of these recipes were written for housewives at the time who were seasoned cooks and knew what they were doing. I have no idea what I'm doing, so I'm just trying my best. The result of my test cake was edible, but also pretty dry and dense. A huge THANK YOU to my friend and collaborator Mary Stanford for tasting my test version and giving me notes. My second attempt didn't fare much better.


In addition to re-watching Anita Page films in my free time, I also studied various vintage and modern chocolate cake recipes. It seems that sour cream cakes were very popular at the time. I found a recipe for a sour cream cake attributed to Clark Gable in one of my vintage cookbooks. My friend Christina Rice and her daughter Gable made that recipe for the Oscar Cook-A-Long that I hosted a while back. I texted Christine and she said the Clark Gable recipe was great and highly recommended it. It had all the same ingredients as the Anita Page recipe, but the portions were a bit smaller. Since they co-starred together in 1931's "The Easiest Way", I figured that following Clark's recipe would be fine.


Clark Gable's Sour Cream Chocolate Cake


Ingredients


2 squares grated chocolate

1/2 cup sour cream

3 egg yolks

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup flour

1 level tsp. soda


Directions

Melt chocolate, add sour cream (about 1/2 of it). Mix egg yolk and sugar and remaining sour cream, add flour and pinch of salt, then add to first mixture of chocolate and sour cream. Add whites of 2 eggs, then soda mixed in a little water. Bake in 375 degree oven.


This time the cake turned out way too gooey and I wound up baking it for much longer than I expected. The basic takeaway from this episode is that cake making is far more difficult than it looks.


I found a whole story about Anita Page cooking her "Lady Baltimore" cake in a 1930 issue of Screenland Magazine.



Special Guest


Allan R. Ellenberger has authored numerous books about cinema including biographies of Ramon Novarro, Margaret O’Brien, Miriam Hopkins and Anita Page. He is the official historian of Hollywood Forever Cemetery and has written for several publications including "Classic Images".




The Final Product


This is the first version I made of the cake.



If any of you have cake making tips, please let me know! I still have a lot to learn.


If you want to see Anita Page films, many of them are on DVD, Turner Classic Movies, Amazon Prime and Youtube.



There are also several interviews with Anita Page all over Youtube including this one from TCM.