Chocolate cake

The chocolate cake that powered the Manhattan Project :: WRAL.com

If you’re looking for something to fill an empty spot on your Thanksgiving dessert table or want to celebrate National Cake Day on November 26, consider the chocolate cake that helped usher in the nuclear age according to Archivist Patty Templeton. of National Security. Los Alamos Research Center and National Laboratory.

It was 1942, and physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer was assembling hundreds, if not thousands, of scientists and engineers on “Project Y”, an isolated Mesa 34 miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, in what would become the instant town of Los Alamos.

The teams worked in secret six days a week in a race to harness atomic energy before Adolf Hitler.

The Manhattan Project stories mention scientists like Niels Bohr, who made fundamental contributions to understanding the structure of the atom; Richard Feynman, who paved the way for the field of quantum mechanics today; and Enrico Fermi, who created the first atomic reactor and is known as “the architect of the atomic bomb”.

But there you will find mention of Edith Warner and the exhilarating meals she served in her little pueblo house next to the bridge that crossed the Rio Grande River, in the San Ildefonso Pueblo reserve.

Throughout the war, she served five to six couples a night at $ 2 per person and did not take a tip. Warner did not have a phone, so in-person reservations were required, weeks in advance.

Warner worked 16 hours a day serving his guests garden-to-table feasts of stewed meats flavored with wild herbs and vegetables from his garden, which included ten varieties of squash. Each meal ended with his famous chocolate and raspberry cake.

Oppenheimer ensured that Edith had access to as much chocolate, sugar and butter as she needed to make her cakes, even during wartime rationing. The little tea house served a more important purpose as a moral booster for isolated scientists.

Warner was well known and beloved of Los Alamos. Several books have been written about her, including the 1960 biography of Peggy Pond Church titled The Otowi Bridge House. Its story also fueled two plays and even an opera titled the Woman at Otowi Crossing and performed by the Opéra Théâtre de Saint Louis in 1995.

The recipe was shared by the Los Alamos Historical Society and adjusted by Patty Templeton, archivist at the National Security Research Center, to include temperatures that were not part of Edith’s original woodstove recipe.

Cake icing
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/3 cups flour (sifted 3 times)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of yeast
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 1/2 ounces of baker’s chocolate
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 3 heaped tablespoons of cocoa
  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons of coffee or milk

Preheat the oven to 250ºF. Butter and flour a 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pan. Combine the eggs, sugar and flour. Gradually add the milk, then the salt, vanilla and baking powder. Melt the baker’s chocolate and butter, then beat with the rest of the ingredients until fluffy.

Bake for 15 minutes at 250ºF, then increase to 275ºF for 15 minutes, then 300ºF for a total of 1 hour of cooking.

Prepare the frosting by sifting the sugar and cocoa together, then beating all the ingredients until smooth. Garnish with fresh raspberries.


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