Farmer’s Daughter Cake (Better Than the Original!)

A recipe for the Farmer’s Daughter Cake: easy to make, unpretentious, and loaded with old-fashioned charm.

Once the icing sets, it totally encases the cake in a layer of chocolate that’s somewhere between frosting and fudge.

Adapted from Maida Heatter and changed to make the cake moister and lighter.

square slice of cake with chocolate icing.

The Farmer’s Daughter Cake

An easy vanilla cake topped with a unique old-fashioned chocolate icing that pours on top and firms up to form a delicious chocolate coating.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
cooling 3 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes
Serving Size 9 slices



  • 2 eggs
  • teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup milk whole is best


  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate see notes for substitutions
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • tablespoons butter unsalted


Make the Cake

  • Prep. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the center. Prepare an 8×8 or 9×9 square pan by spraying with non-sticking baking spray or coating in shortening this dusting with flour.
  • Make the batter. Beat the eggs, vanilla, and sugar in a medium mixing bowl with an electric mixer until slightly lightened in color. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Add half to the egg mixture and mix until just combined. Then add the milk and finally the remaining dry ingredients, mixing on low.
    process shots of making cake batter.
  • Bake. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth out the top. Bake for 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Flip out onto a cooling rack, turn the cake right side up, and cover with a clean tea towel. The cake will flatten as it cools. Cool completely before icing.

Make the Icing

  • Melt chocolate with milk and sugar. Melt the chocolate, sugar, and milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, until the sugar dissolves (rub the mixture between your fingers to make sure the sugar is no longer grainy). Remove from the heat before it boils, and set aside.
    small saucepan melting chocolate.
  • Temper eggs with heated chocolate. Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl. Add a small amount of the chocolate mixture and stir into the yolks to temper them. Slowly add more chocolate, stirring continuously, until half of it is mixed into the eggs. Add the egg/ chocolate mixture back into the chocolate and mix until everything is combined.
    egg yolks in bowl with chocolate
  • Add butter and cool. Pour into a mixing bowl (if you have a stand mixer, use that bowl), and stir in the butter by hand. Allow to cool at room temperature, undisturbed, until completely cool.
  • Mix. Beat the icing with an electric mixer until it is smooth and shiny. It will become slightly lighter is color and stream down off the beater in ribbons. This will take about five minutes on high using a stand mixer, and ten with a hand mixer.

Ice the Cake

  • Place cake on a wire rack or cake stand on top of parchment paper to catch any icing drips. Pour half of the icing in the center and along the edges of the cake. Wait one minute to let it run down the sides. Pour the remaining icing in the center and on any corners that were missed. It will smooth out on its own, but you can smooth it with a butter knife if you'd like. Let the cake stand at room temperature for two hours until the icing is dry to the touch. Carefully transfer the cake to a cake stand or platter to cut and serve.
    chocolate frosting on square cake.


No unsweetened baking chocolate?  Use 3/4 cup of cocoa and 2 tablespoons butter or shortening when you start the icing (you’ll still add more butter at the end.)
Substitute 1/4 teaspoon of the vanilla with almond or coconut extract for a different flavor.
Keep any leftovers tightly wrapped in plastic wrap on the counter; it will not disturb the icing.
If your room is very warm and the icing won’t set, pop it in the fridge.

You’ll need the following for this simple homemade cake:

  • Eggs
  • Vegetable oil
  • Vanilla
  • Granulated sugar
  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Milk
  • Unsweetened chocolate
  • Whole milk
  • Egg yolks
  • Unsalted butter
unsweetened chocolate, milk, eggs, baking powder, vanilla, and flour on wooden surface

🥫 Storage instructions

If you’ve got some cake left, wrap it up tightly in plastic wrap. The icing won’t be disturbed, so no worries. Store it on the counter for a day or so.

Freezing this cake? Slice it, place parchment paper between slices, and store in an airtight container. When you want to enjoy it, let it thaw at room temperature.

👩🏻‍🍳 Expert tips

finished cake with corner piece missing

Room Temperature Ingredients: Always aim to use ingredients at room temperature, especially eggs and butter. This ensures even mixing and better texture.

If you want to use a round pan or a loaf tin, just be mindful of the baking time. It will be different.

Melting Chocolate: When melting chocolate, use a low and consistent heat. Consider using a double boiler to avoid direct contact with the flame. This will prevent any burning or lump formation. (I do not use a double boiler, but I do keep a close eye on it!)

Cool Completely Before Icing: Patience is key. Allow the cake to cool completely before you start with the icing. This ensures that the icing spreads smoothly and doesn’t melt off.

📘 more old-fashioned cake Recipes

🍽 Serve it with

Fresh strawberries and a hot cup of coffee. 😊

Farmer\'s Daughter Cake (Better Than the Original!)

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Recipe Rating


  1. I am giving this one star only because you’re telling us whole milk for the batter in the ingredients. Then in the instructions lol you state heavy cream. Since I don’t want to waste money which is it?