Business Trip Cake

Johnny and Emma dig into the cake they baked
Mike was out of town for all but one week of August, so Emma requested and I agreed that Saturday was the perfect time to repeat our business trip cake from last year. We made my Grandma’s tried and true hot water chocolate cake, and we even made the pudding from scratch this time (both recipes are below). I love covering cakes with pudding – besides being healthier, the less-sweet pudding brings out the natural sweetness of the cake. Lily napped through most of the festivities, but Emma and Johnny thoroughly enjoyed baking and eating this cake – and we even saved some for Mike, who (hooray!!!) returned late Saturday night.

There are a couple things that make this cake special. The cake recipe is an all-time favorite from my childhood, and using pudding in lieu of frosting cuts the sugar down while making it even easier for kids to decorate!

Hot Water Chocolate Cake

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup cocoa
  • 2 tsp. soda
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Cream butter and sugar, then add the remaining ingredients in order of appearance. After batter is beaten add boiling water and vanilla. Grease pan well. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.


Corn Starch Pudding (not as good as egg yolk pudding, but easier to make!)

  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. corn starch
  • 2 ½ cups milk
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Mix sugar and cornstarch. Add milk, salt and vanilla. Cook until thickened. Be careful of scorching. Serve hot or cold.


If you want to use the pudding to decorate the cake, spoon pudding into ziploc bags. Add food coloring and squish the bag gently to mix. Cut a small corner off the bag, and squeeze the pudding onto the cake.

MaryAnne lives in Silicon Valley with her Stanford professor husband Mike and their four children. She writes about parenting through education, creativity, and play. Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting is a space to share crafts, hands on learning activities, and family outings that enrich lives and bring families together.

17 thoughts on “Business Trip Cake”

  1. Thanks for this recipe Mary Anne, it sounds wonderful. The cake the kids made is adorable, I love the colors! Glad Mike made it back to y’all safely:-).
    .-= Susana´s last blog ..Magic Tree House Knight at Dawn Unit Study =-.

  2. Elisa | blissfulE

    I keep wondering what we will do for the “red” cake Nikki has requested and wants to help make for her birthday – this might be the solution!! Pudding topping… yummy and not too sweet. :)
    .-= Elisa | blissfulE´s last blog ..mourning =-.

  3. Great tradition. I am glad that Mike is home – I can’t imagine holding the fort with three little kids :)
    .-= Natalie´s last blog ..Computer Math Or Genie Who Was Let Out of the Bottle =-.

  4. @Jenae – I’ve never read that book, but it sounds like one we should check out – thanks for the recommendation!

    @Katie – Yes it does. I’d love for him to be home all the time, but at least he’ll only be gone for one week in September!

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