My favorite cake

If you remember from my Key lime pie post—and really, who hasn’t committed it to memory?—one of the only desserts I like as much as Key lime pie is my mom’s chocolate, kahlua, and coffee bundt cake. My amazing mother has always baked birthday cakes for me and my siblings (and Dad), but in the last several years, she’s started a tradition of overnighting homemade birthday cakes to those of us who live out of state. That means that for the last few years on my birthday, I not only receive a big package of birthday goodies and gifts, but also one of these cakes. Wrapped securely in two or three layers of tinfoil and situated in a round tin, my friends anticipate its arrival as much as I do.

I distinctly remember my 20th birthday, when I was a sophomore in college. My parents, younger brother, and grandparents drove over to Athens for lunch at DePalma’s (ohhh how I miss you, spicy penne charmaine!) with me and my three roommates…and this cake. We each had a slice at lunch and then it came with me back to our room at the sorority house, where it was promptly demolished by the end of the night. I think we decided to forgo cutting slices of cake and instead attacked it with forks.

Until a few years ago, I’d never spent my birthday away from my family. The first birthday on my own was my 21st, when I was three weeks into my study abroad in London. It felt so strange to celebrate a birthday so far away from those who had given me life, but I had a couple of friends visiting and so home felt a little bit closer. Since I moved to Seattle in 2008 I haven’t spent a single birthday with my family, and this cake has weirdly become a little piece of home, FedEx’d with love from thousands of miles away.

I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I do, especially if you have a thing for incredibly rich, chocolatey, boozy, coffee goodness.

Chocolate, kahlua, and coffee cake
From my mom; I’m not sure where she got the original recipe. I suppose you could make this in a regular cake pan, but I’ve only ever had the bundt version.

1 package devil’s food cake mix with pudding (I use Pillsbury)
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brewed coffee (cooled)
1/2 cup kahlua
4 eggs
2 cups chocolate chips (1 bag)

Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips; mix on low speed to blend and then on medium speed for two minutes.

Fold in chocolate chips. Pour batter into a greased bundt pan.

Bake at 300˚ for 60-70 minutes.

I can’t believe I haven’t posted since mid-January. Since then, I’ve had more time on my hands to update this blog than ever. My birthday was on a Saturday, and the three days before it were snow days! The Puget Sound area was hit hard by a snow/ice storm that closed my office for an unprecedented (or so that’s what everyone said) three days; I worked a total of one day that week, as that Monday was the MLK holiday. To be fair, other than the snow days, it’s been a fairly busy month: my birthday party here and here, this dance party, these guys at Tractor Tavern, the best fried chicken I’ve ever had, finance classes (yay!), hunting for treasures in Duvall, a Valentine’s day sing-along, book club, and these retro-sounding newcomers.

I also treated myself to a post-birthday/pre-Argentina trip gift and bought a new camera! I didn’t have it when I took photos of the cake, but here are some shots I’ve taken with it in the last couple of weeks around the house. And yes, you read that right—I’m going to Argentina! Okie BFF Margo and I are meeting up with LB & Rory in Buenos Aires for 10 days or so in late March/early April. Send suggestions for fun things to do, see, eat, and drink if you have ’em!


Bloody marys for Mckenzie’s birthday brunch.


Beautiful afternoon sunlight through my bedroom curtains.

The Seattle skyline at night from my front window.

Birthday card from Jenn!


I have too many scarves.

Finally, send big birthday wishes and prayers for my grandfather, Papa, who turns 94 tomorrow. He is one of the most special people in the world to me and I’ve learned so much about strength, hope, patience, love, commitment, and—above all—faithfulness from him. I love you, Papa.


Michael and I with Papa and his old truck on the farm. Yes, I had just wet my pants—it was my first time hunting and when Dad fired a shot it scared me so bad that I lost control. Hahaha.

5 thoughts on “My favorite cake

  1. I’m smiling and crying at the same time-a lot of your posts have that effect on me! This is “your cake”. I got the recipe from Cathy Guy who worked with Dad a long time ago. I loved your pictures from your new camera and updates on what you’re up to. What a perfect and truthful tribute to Papa on his birthday-I’ve already printed it out to take to him. I love you, Lizzie.

  2. yummm! i may try to make this from here. we’re in santiago now and the grocery stores have EVERYTHING. so excited about y’all meeting us in BA!!

  3. Making this today – when you say 1/2 kahlua, do you mean 1/2 bottle? And what size kahlua do you normally get?

    • Hi Julia,
      It’s 1/2 cup, not 1/2 bottle–somehow I omitted that in the recipe, but it’s fixed now. Hope you enjoy the cake!

      Elizabeth

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