The Rob Petrie “Milk Cake”

I’m re-posting this because it’s the time of year when a little comfort food can be appreciated, plus I whipped up one of these cakes for Lisa and Emma tonight.  Here’s a link to the Hulu page for this episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show—  the scene described below starts at 9:00.

Rob and Laura
In the episode “The Lady and the Babysitter” of The Dick Van Dyke Show, Rob whines about how Laura made a delicious “milk cake” yet there’s no milk in the Petrie house. He could have been referring to the cake I’m talking about here.
Quick Cocoa Cake
Yes, those are Hershey Bars laid across the top of the cake. Six of ’em.
My mom made this cake many times when I was a kid. I used to refer to it as the “vinegar cake” because of the one tablespoon of vinegar that’s in the recipe, but don’t let that put you off– it’s all in the name of good baking chemistry.
Now, I admit I’m kind of a snob when it comes to chocolate bars, and Hershey’s is usually lower on the list than other brands. For the purposes of this recipe, though, the Hershey bars have the best shape, thickness, and melting point– plus, we’re talking about comfort food here, so let’s allow a little throwback to childhood, shall we?
The recipe is ridiculously simple and the result is simply amazing.
Quick Cocoa Cake
The cake lends itself to a tall, cool, glass of milk or even a nice cabernet sauvignon. It’s really moist, but you will want something to wash it down.
Quick Cocoa Cake
And now that I have your attention, check out the recipe:


Quick Cocoa Cake
(One layer, 8 inch square)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup cold water
6 Hershey bars– the original recipe called for two, but trust me on this
Sift and mix all the dry ingredients into an ungreased 8-inch square baking pan. Level dry ingredients and make 3 holes or wells in the mixture. Pour oil into one hole, and vinegar and vanilla into the others. Pour cold water over the top. Use a fork to stir the mixture until it’s smooth.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.
Unwrap all the Hershey bars, and when you remove the cake from the oven immediately lay the bars evenly over the top of the cake– break the pieces apart if necessary. (You can also make chocolate frosting, but why? 🙂
Let the cake sit for about an hour before serving. Yum.
Note: if you decide to refrigerate the cake, be sure to let it warm to room temperature before attempting to cut into it. Those Hershey bars will revert to their original candy-bar-state when chilled, and make cutting the cake a challenge.


(This originally appeared on Crosswalks to Nowhere on November 4, 2008.)