Cake pan cake: a special recipe for our 225th birthday

225-logoThe King Arthur Flour Company marks its 225th anniversary this year. And in honor of that milestone, we decided to feature one particular recipe from our enormous, historic archive; one recipe that we feel embodies both the essence of American baking, and the spirit of King Arthur Flour. We’re proud to share our 225th Anniversary Recipe of the Centuries: Cake Pan Cake.

Chocolate cake.

Unless you’re one of the small minority of Americans who doesn’t care for chocolate, you’ve probably enjoyed a slice of chocolate cake at some point in your life.

Let’s start with birthdays. Do you have a faded, deckle-edge paper photo of you as a toddler,  chocolate cake smeared all over your face? Or a digital image of same – featuring your own 2-year-old? Chocolate birthday cake is a tradition started early and returned to often.

And then there’s the wedding – how many of you insisted on at least one layer of chocolate among the towering tiers of fondant-coated, buttercream-bedecked vanilla?

Maybe at some point you ventured into more complicated chocolate cakes. Sacher torte. Flourless fudge cake.

Or Chef Susan Reid’s wondrous Chocolate Stout Cake. If I had my way, when you looked up “DA BOMB” in your urban slang dictionary, you’d see a picture of this cake.

So, fact established: chocolate cake is a big part of American life. But why does this particular chocolate cake recipe – King Arthur Flour’s Original Cake Pan Cake – earn our accolades as Recipe of the Centuries?

It’s cake with a history.

Born during World War II, with food rationing in effect, Cake Pan Cake uses neither eggs nor milk nor butter. Yet darned if it isn’t the moistest, richest, deepest/darkest chocolate cake you’ll ever taste.

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It’s a simple, stir-together cake anyone can make.

In fact, kids can have fun by mixing the whole thing together right in a cake pan – no bowl to wash! Though personally, I enjoy stirring up the batter for Cake Pan Cake in my mom’s 1950s-vintage green Pyrex bowl.

Cake Pan Cake is all-inclusive.

Everyone in the dietary melting pot can eat Cake Pan Cake. Vegans, those avoiding eggs or dairy, and those with nut allergies can enjoy it without remorse or trepidation. (As can those eating gluten-free – try our Gluten-Free Cake Pan Cake).

Historic, approachable, inclusive: sounds like the newly formed America George Washington presided over back in 1790 – the year Sands, Taylor and Wood (later known as the King Arthur Flour Company) was founded.

And it represents our long-held company values.

History, approachability, inclusivity – we here at employee-owned King Arthur Flour value those characteristics. We’re a historic company, but we don’t feel (or act) old; we relish the technology that lets us connect with you every day, in so many ways. (Have you seen our Instagram feed or Facebook page lately?)

225th Anniversary Recipe of the Centuries Cake Pan Cake via @kingarthurflour

We want you to feel comfortable coming to us for help, for flour, for inspiration and recipes and cake pans. And we want to serve all of our bakers out there, from the 10-year-old proudly baking her first birthday cake to the retired engineer trying to nail down the exact hydration for the perfect baguette.

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Simple. Accessible. Luscious.

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For everything you embody, Cake Pan Cake, we crown you our 225th Anniversary Recipe of the Centuries.

A great big thank you to all of you out there who regularly invite us into your kitchen to share the pure joy of baking. Here’s to the next 225 years!

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. Gerri

    Once cooled, can the cake be removed from the pan and placed on a serving dish? Would you have to put parchment under it?

  2. MRS

    I notice that you are using vegetable oil as the fat for the cake. I understand the historical reasons for this, but I would like to use butter instead. How much butter would I use in place of vegetable oil in these cake pan cake recipes? Thank you for any information.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You’re more than welcome to use butter, MRS, it’ll be the same amount by volume, then you can melt it down and add it as you would the oil. Happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

  3. Sharon

    The photos show this cake as serving either 8 (in the round pan) or 9 (square pan). However, the nutrition information, which is important in my household, indicates it serves 16. Should I calculate it on the 16 servings per cake as shown in the nutrition information? One cake layer divided into 16 will be very tiny servings.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi there, Sharon. The nutritional information we have for this recipe, which can be found by clicking on the orange “Nutrition information” link at the bottom of the At a Glance box, is based on 16 servings. When this information was calculated the cake was cut into sixteen, 2″ pieces. We’ve written this recipe with a conservative serving size; plus, more pieces lends itself to more sharing (which we love). The truth is, though, that you’ll wield the knife. You can cut whatever serving sizes feel best to you. We hope this helps clarify and happy baking! Morgan@KAF

  4. Vickie

    Can this cake be made in a 6 inch pan? I want to make a layered chocolate cake with a 9 inch base and a 6 inch top with two layers each. Can this recipe handle the weight? And how long should I bake the 6 inch cakes?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Vickie! We haven’t tested this recipe in 6″ pans so we don’t know how long they’ll take to bake, but you can start checking for doneness around the 20 to 25-minute mark. It’ll likely make two 6″ cakes, filling the pans no more than 2/3 of the way up. You’ll know they’re done when the cake bounces back when you poke it and a toothpick comes out clean from the center. Because there’s no strength from eggs, if the 9″ base is also this recipe, we wouldn’t go higher than 2 layers total unless they’re pretty short, but you’re welcome to do a test batch and see if you can go higher. Happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

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