wooden spoon

We’re smack-dab in the middle of June, the month of dads and grads. Let’s celebrate!

While there’ll always be another Father’s Day, my heart goes out to the high school graduates who have not been able to acknowledge their all-important first step into adulthood in the traditional way.

However, I’ve enjoyed the creativity and care shown by many schools and communities in honoring their students. Loved the Pirate parade through the Valley.

While those kids didn’t step out of high school as their parents did, you can be sure it’s a graduation they won’t forget — and I have a couple cakes to mark the occasion.

Santa Ynez High School grads wrap up 2020 with celebratory car parade

One, an involved chocolate stout cake, and another a moist, luscious chocolate cake that’s a quickie.

Sara Major, a cousin from the Ojai branch of my family, brought her great cake to my attention and it’s a hit. Kudos all around and, to keep in tone with the times, this one gets an A-plus in my opinion.

Sara’s cake, a boxed-mix remake, is quick and easy with a crazy tweak that works.

Elaine Revelle: Locked down, remembering and cooking

Make sure you use a mix calling for oil, then substitute unsweetened applesauce for the oil. For instance, the one I used needed 1-1/4 cups water, 1/2-cup oil and two eggs. Substitution was easy, 1/2-cup oil out, 1/2-cup applesauce in, bake as directed. Cool completely. To literally and figuratively put the icing on the cake, use the following chocolate ganache. This one is sure to become a favorite.

As a double treat, I’m including the stout cake recipe, both worthy of being in anyone’s recipe repertoire. Enjoy Father’s Day this Sunday and honor your graduate too.


chocolate cake mix* any brand

unsweetened applesauce

Make cake according to package directions and using a one-to-one ratio, substitute apple sauce for oil. Bake as directed, cool 10 minutes in pan, turn out onto wire rack and cool completely. Frost with ganache in the recipe following.

*use mix calling for egg and added oil.


2 cups Guinness stout

2 cups (four sticks) unsalted butter

1-1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder

4 cups all purpose flour

4 cups sugar

1 tablespoon baking soda

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

4 large eggs

1-1/3 cups sour cream

2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter three eight-inch round cake pans with two-inch high sides. Line with parchment paper. Butter and lightly flour parchment, set aside. Bring stout and butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Meanwhile whisk flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Using electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat eggs with sour cream and vanilla. Add cooled stout/chocolate mixture and beat. Add flour mixture and mix briefly on slow. Do not over beat. Using rubber spatula, fold batter by hand until completely combined. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in pan, turn cakes out onto rack, cool completely and frost with following.


2 cups whipping cream

dash salt

1 pound bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped

2 teaspoons vanilla

flake salt for top, optional

Bring cream and salt to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Pour over chocolate, add vanilla and whisk until melted and smooth. Refrigerate until icing is spreadable, stirring frequently, about two hours. Place first cake layer on plate. Spread with 1/3-cup icing. Top with second layer. Repeat with 1/3-cup icing. Add third layer and spread remaining icing over top and sides. Sprinkle salt lightly over top, optional.

Long-time Valley resident Elaine Revelle can be reached at thewoodenspoon@juno.com


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